A couple years ago the New York Post did an article titled, “Millennials Don’t Deserve NYC”. The article describes current trends among young people ages 18-34. While in bygone ages, young people clamored to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, the young people of today opt to stay home, be comfortable, and save money. As a generation, they do not enjoy the club scene, they drink less and more moderately than previous generations, they do not frequent the movie theater in hordes as in past decades.
This is due in part to the high levels of stress, financial constraints, and exhaustion. It also has a lot to do with how accessible “life” is remotely. They can order in food, stream movies, talk to friends, even “date” all from the comfort of their couch. While things like binge drinking is at an all-time low, cases of depression are on the rise.
Millennials are the world’s largest age group, it is significant that during their youth, malls have turned into residential units, theaters are shutting down, and brick and mortar establishments have to move online to survive. Millennials have affected their world in amazing ways when it comes to social justice, community activism, and fighting for the disenfranchised. While they have done incredible things, human interaction is waning.
The trends of the world are changing. People can go weeks without having to interact face to face. Just about everything we need can be ordered. While this protects us from potential hurt that others can inflict on us, it also keeps us from experiencing the fullness of humanity.
However, I suspect that in several decades from now people will realize the profound necessity for face-to-face interactions and reestablish “watering holes”. But, the character of these places must change if they are to make an impact. The current generation has taught us that going out for the sake of going out is a thing of the past. Being around a big group of people just so you don’t feel alone is futile; you still end up feeling alone anyway. Doing something just because it has always been done is not something that is widely done anymore. For the current generation to be engaged, it has to be real, authentic, worth their time, and honest.
What if instead of waiting for decades, the Church becomes that gathering place now? I don’t mean the building, I mean the people. What if the people of God live in authentic, transparent, life-giving community now? So that when those who find that social media has isolated them are looking for meaningful relationships, they have a place to go, rather, a people to be a part of. So that when those who find themselves lonely and need love they have a people to be their home? So that when those who find themselves hurt and need comfort they have a soft place to land? What if the people of God became the gathering place that we so desperately need?