Most of my friends outside of my church group were not religious. In fact, I’d venture to say that most of them were anti-religion. It’s not that they thought any less of me (at least to my knowledge), but many of them did not subscribe to organized faith. Our public education enforced that worldview in some ways. We learned all about the oppressive theocracies in Europe, the conquering conquistadors in the Caribbean and South America, and the persecuted Puritans who immigrated to America only to become the persecutors themselves. In the history books, religion does not fare well.
Religion doesn’t have a good rep in language arts either. Or politics. Or science. (At least math can remain neutral, right?) In my millennial, public education, rules were confining and everything was gray. Everything was relative, nothing absolute. So many principles enforced throughout my education rubbed against my religious convictions. Despite all that, my education was certainly valuable. My school days combined with my faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church) cultivated in me a listening ear and prepared my heart for understanding those with whom I do not agree. Being a religious millennial allowed me to bring something unique to the table. I had different perspectives and ideas that, when voiced, enriched classroom discussion and fostered deeper thinking.
This relationship can work conversely. Faith can certainly shed new perspective on secular matters, but millennials also have characteristics that lend themselves to active participation in The Church of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone, and Generation Y has so much to offer.
Millennials are fresh and liberal—they ask questions.
You may not instinctually pair religion with liberal thinking, but the thinking patterns inherent to millennials are investigative and thorough. Some think that asking questions in religion is evidence of unbelief, but the opposite is true. The Church of Jesus Christ loves questions. In fact, Joseph Smith, the man who restored The Church of Jesus Christ to the earth in 1830, began with questions, and he took those questions directly to God. The gospel of Christ is one wherein the individual develops a personal relationship with God. Questions are not only acceptable, they are welcomed.
The church thrives on questions. That’s how its leaders receive revelation for the institution and also how members receive revelations for their own lives. The millennial education taught these young men and women the importance of questions and critical thinking. If millennials apply those skills to interacting in a faith-based community, they will find answers—answers that may even surprise them.
Millennials thrive on supporting a cause—they want to change the world.
Browsing through my Facebook friends, you’ll see several of my old high school acquaintances living abroad in third-world countries. I have former classmates who live in tents in Africa involved in varying humanitarian projects, able to update social media only when they have an internet connection, which isn’t often. They’ve given up so much of their comfortable American lifestyle to help and minister to those less fortunate. These old classmates of mine were the ones who during our lunch hour would talk about what they wanted to do to change the world. They paid attention to what was happening globally and were bent on becoming involved.
The Church of Jesus Christ does have a purpose—sharing the gospel throughout the world. A millennial with a testimony of the Savior wields so much influence and passion in the cause of Jesus Christ. They can do so much good in spreading the gospel and sharing what makes them happy. The Church of Jesus Christ loves passionate people; and these passionate and informed millennials could continue to help world causes within the organized structure of the church. The Church of Jesus Christ is a global one and seeks to not only spread its message but also to alleviate the suffering of people all around the world. The Church of Jesus Christ is a primed spot for someone passionate about making a difference.
Millennials are compassionate and understanding about others’ circumstances and differences.
During my education, I witnessed the theology of relativism sprout up in the minds of my peers. “Whatever you believe is right for you is right,” they’d say, “What’s right for one may not be right for another.” The Church of Jesus Christ certainly does not espouse such relativity; in fact, The Church of Jesus Christ does believe in absolute truths. A millennial involved in this faith, however, can still bring the compassion and understanding cultivated in relativism into the framework of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Millennials understand that everyone lives a unique life, and that what resonates with one person may not touch another. If millennials bring that understanding of diversity into The Church of Jesus Christ and into their testimonies of the Savior, they can become powerful tools in God’s hands to minister to His children.
With the foundation of Jesus Christ and His gospel and church, everyone in any circumstance can find relief. When millennials approach relative situations with a grounded testimony of the Savior, they find themselves in an influential position of compassion and ministering. Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer, and within His gospel we can find solutions for everyone in every circumstance. The Church of Jesus Christ, while not one of relativity, is certainly one of love and compassion, and that’s something millennials can connect with.
Some millennials—maybe even many—want direction and can’t find it.
How many articles have you read about how behind millennials are on life milestones? We know all about how millennials in the late 20s are still living with their parents, how they can’t seem to settle in careers, and how their pursuits of marriage and family are eclipsed by wanting to “have fun” and “live in the moment.” This is certainly a condition for many millennials, but have you ever stopped to wonder that maybe they don’t know how to find direction, that maybe they want a path and don’t even know where to find it?
The Church of Jesus Christ does offer that direction and purpose so many millennials seek. The gospel of Christ places high value on both building families and cultivating self-reliance. The principles taught in The Church of Jesus Christ could be the spark that ignites millennials to act on their futures. Many Mormons marry young, and while in some circles that life choice may be criticized, settling down in your 20s is actually a smart and valuable choice to make. (Check out this TED Talk by Meg Jay about why “30 Is Not the New 20.”)
My husband and I got married when we were in our mid-20s, and I’m now staying at home raising our son while he spends his days providing for our family and building a successful career. I also have opportunities to use and apply my own college degree. Our life choices have been informed and inspired by our belief system. The Church of Jesus Christ provides direction and stability. While no religion can protect you from pain or opposition, the gospel of Christ can arm you with powerful and effective ways to deal with adversity. The Church of Jesus Christ can help millennials prepare for the temporal aspects of life and can, more importantly, prepare them spiritually so that they can weather any of life’s storms. Life is unpredictable and unstable—the gospel of Jesus Christ provides inner peace and spiritually stability so that when life does take an unexpected twist, you have something solid to hold to.
Millennials want answers—the gospel of Jesus Christ has them.
Millennials are largely discontent. They ask big questions and can’t find adequate answers. I have many childhood friends who wander spiritually, unhappy without knowing how to change it. The Church of Jesus Christ has those big answers. The Savior’s gospel has answers to who we are, why we are here, and where we are going after this life. If millennials open their hearts to faith they will find answers that the Holy Ghost can confirm. They will begin to understand the doctrine of choice and why God lets bad things happen to good people. They will find deeper purpose in life as they come to learn about God’s plan for His children.
With growing faith, millennials will be better able to accept that they can’t know everything, but that someday they will know and understand. That’s the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ—answers and the faith to wait for answers.
Millennials are ready for religion. They have been taught to scoff, but in reality, they’re made for faith. They have so much to offer, and that offering can be magnified in gospel of Jesus Christ. Millennials place high value on discovering who they are and on being true to themselves; the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about learning about your true identity and holding fast to it. The Church of Jesus Christ offers answers, identity, and purpose to men, women, teenagers, and children, and yes, even millennials.