Interpreter magazine tells the story of Joey Butler who was explaining to his teenage niece that, when the original Star Wars movie was released, his dad took him to the movie theater eight times to see it. They went to see The Empire Strikes Back six times. Puzzled, his niece asked, "Why did you have to go to the theater that many times?" "Because," her uncle replied, "we didn't have VCRs or DVD players back then."
His niece looked at him as if he had said they didn't have electricity. Or possibly fire. Our Imagine Nation Youth can't believe that, when I graduated high school, we didn't have email, cell phones, or even fax machines. The Internet had not yet been created. They can't imagine how I ever got along in such a primitive world.
Younger generations live in a radically different world than previous generations did at that age. To reach younger generations, churches must understand who they are, what they like, and how best to reach them. Generation Y was born somewhere between 1982 and 1995. M*A*S*H* was just going off the air, MTV was just being launched, and "Thriller" was playing in cassette decks. They have had the Internet and mobile phone technology all their lives. This is how they communicate and build community. It's also why we have committed a strategic investment for technology to be such an integral component of Imagine Church.
Generation Y has also been called "the most civic-minded since the generation of the 1930s and 1940s." This is a generation of active doers. The more opportunities that Millennials have to get their hands dirty, the better. This is one of the reasons Imagine Church is creating a new missions team and looking at our community to find meaningful and need-meeting ways that many of us can become involved personally.
Imagine Church's desire to come alongside young people as they are launching their lives is critically important. We believe that a church which embraces young people and their needs is going to be a vital part of the future of both our country and also the Christian faith. Reports say that young people often mistrust the traditional church, but there is hope -- if churches will be creative and find new ways to do ministry that appeals to both skeptics and seekers.
Generation Y is hugely optimistic. They want to make changes for the better and make the world better than what they grew up in. Imagine Church shares in that vision and has committed to be a part of that change. Pray for our efforts and for the young people we will come to know, love, and welcome because of them.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas