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Millennials: The religious, the nones and the dones

By David Otten
Contributing writer
updated: 1/24/2018 1:28 PM

In the second week of January, my Navy training focused on ministering to millennials, (ages 18 to 30 years), where I learned that I am very much a dinosaur, meaning that I'm not operating on 10 different social websites, and I can't complete a Beyoncé song from memory, but I can remember watching TV on a black-and-white set and the Beatles in their first American tour at Yankee Stadium.

The Pew Research Center in 2014 furnished the following characteristics of millennials: distrustful of institutions, on the leading edge of technology, racially diverse, positive about the future, economically challenged, less religious, less patriotic, not as concerned about the environment as they assume it is being taken care of, supportive of gay rights, and more likely to have voted for Obama.

The millennials are divided into three religious groups: the religious, the nones and the dones.

• The religious are those who are still involved with a religious institution.

• The nones are those who do not identify with any church or religious institution, but they may have beliefs or feelings about God.

They may even attend worship services, but do not want to identify with that religious institution.

• The dones are those who were part of a religious group, but have walked away from it.

They are not as likely to return to a religious institution when they are older, as members of former generations have done.

These are not all of the statistics about millennials, and not all who are between the ages of 18 to 30 fit neatly into this description, but it does give you a picture of the majority of millennials.

Besides providing an understanding of millennials, I hope in coming weeks to discuss the opportunities for reaching millennials in a meaningful way with Christ's love. This does not imply that every suggestion will bear fruit, for no clever arguments or human wisdom brings a person to Christ.

It is by the power of God's word.

It is always the Holy Spirit that gives new birth. In John 3:5-6, Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."

Yet, if some of the barriers can be torn down, then opportunities exist so that God's word has free course to change lives. To start with -- you or the world may not think this is much of a strategy -- pray.

Pray for those who are not part of the church; pray that God's word will come to them in meaningful ways; pray that the Spirit will go forth making, convicting and creating faith. Pray also that we, as God's people, will stay true to His word and trust in Him.

• DAVID OTTEN is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.

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