Guest Writer

by John Wesley Reid


Guest Writer

Millennial Christians

August 20, 2018

5 Trends Christian Millennials Must Stop Doing

Today’s guest author is John Wesley Reid, a Christian blogger and political analyst based in Washington, D.C.  Reid served in the United States Marines and received a degree in political science from Biola Universiy before pursuing seminary at Liberty University. This blog post originally appeared on his personal blogReposted with permission. 


This piece is a response to young Christian millennials who often sacrifice their Christian values for the sake of being relevant to the world. I will remind you, oh beloved children of God, that Jesus himself said that the world will hate you because of your love for Him. You can love the world like Jesus loves the world and still be hated. It’s not your fault, so don’t change your method. Your advocacy for Christ should never come at the expense of your relationship with Him. Here are 5 ways that many Christian millennials are hurting their delivery of the gospel to a world that desperately needs it.

1) Tolerance

Tolerance flies in the face of the gospel because it is apathetic both to brokenness and holiness, and when we don’t recognize our brokenness then we will never recognize our need for holiness…and thus Jesus becomes, at best, superfluous. Many millennials have it in their minds that affirming the individual means affirming their sin. This message is due in part to the poison of church progressivism, and many young Christian millennials sing the same tune. Instead of hating sin for the separation that it causes between us and God, they accept the sins of others in the name of “loving them for who they are.”

But the problem with tolerance is that when we accept people for who they WANT to be, we neglect the people that Jesus MADE them to be.

Jesus was the prime example of love, but never does He display an ounce of tolerance. Indeed the cross was proof of His intolerance. What type of tolerance prompts a king to step off his throne to die for his people? Tolerance was never part of the story!

The gospel does not boast “come as you are, stay as you are” but rather “come as you are TO BE RESTORED!” We don’t get to make up the narrative here, folks! The story has already been written- and it is beautiful! 

2) Neglecting Theology

Consider the etymology of the word theology; theo- God, logy-study: the study of God. A trendy message among young Christians these days is “I don’t need theology, I just need Jesus.” The problem here is that the two are not mutually exclusive. Not only are they not mutually exclusive but rather they are dependent on each other. The more we know Jesus, the more we love Him and the more we love Him the more we want to know Him and so the cycle continues. Our desire to know Him (theology) should be an implication for our love for Him. And the more this continues the more we will desire to live like Him and thus love His people AS HE loves them.

To say you love Jesus but don’t need theology is like a husband telling his wife, “I love you, poopsies. But I don’t care to know your heart, your character, your desires, your attributes,” etc.

But when theology is neglected, the ramifications are made known in the way we treat others. Even with a Christian label we only love on them with a wishy-washy love that promotes no agenda for change and restoration. When theology is neglected Christian millennials succumb to weak cultural ideas and defective scriptural interpretation such as “Jesus just said to love people, so why should we be opposed to gay marriage?” and “the Bible says not to judge, so don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be sleeping with my boyfriend!” when the Bible actually tells Christians to judge each other (Matthew 7:24, I Corinthians 5:9-13). A good theology will inform the individual that not only are they wrong in their sin, but that Jesus wants so much MORE for them; more joy, purity and intimacy with Him.

3) Separation from the World

You are not of the world, so don’t act like you are (Romans 12:1-2). “But John, Jesus partied, so I can party!” Well, sure I guess you can say he partied because He did attend parties and even contribute wine to one (and yes, I affirm that this wine was alcoholic). But the above quote is used in a defense of a partying style that is NOT consistent with Jesus’ partying style, and those who make the argument know that full well. As Christians, we are to be light and salt to the world (Matthew 5:14). Salt gives flavor to bland food, light gives vision in darkness. See the analogy there? We are to be different and we are to be good. Good in behavior and good in our advocacy for Christ. Does this mean we can’t drink? Not necessarily. Does it mean we can’t get drunk and cuss and make poor decisions with people that we likely wouldn’t have without the influence of alcohol? Yes, it absolutely does if our agenda is to represent Christianity.

But even the movies we watch and the music we listen to are important. Harry Potter? I’m fine with it but you should read this: (Reasons Why Christians Should NOT Watch Harry Potter). If it has an explicit language sticker on it then there’s really no justification to be listening to it. It needs to be tossed. “But I’m an adult.” Yes, which means you’re a Christian and you’re old enough to know better. Not to mention you’re supposed to be setting the example. Junk in, junk out no matter your age.

We’re quick to sing popular worship songs like “O To Be Like You” and “Jesus, Be the Center Of My Life” but how practical do we allow this to be? We need to be Daniels, Esthers, and Joshuas. We need to be people of faith who love without ceasing and represent without compromise.

Also, I understand that nobody is perfect but it’s one thing to sin and try to justify it while it’s another to sin and repent; confessing and turning away from sin.

Stop flirting with what you can get away with, and instead pursue the holiness that we have through Jesus Christ.

4) Bashing the Church

Christian Millennials are quick to throw the Church under the bus. Blogs are constantly cycling the internet like “3 reasons why I left my youth group” (and of course it’s always the youth group/youth pastor’s fault, not the student who left). While the Church isn’t perfect, I feel it is much more effective to celebrate the good that the Church is doing than the negative, which a lot of times isn’t even negative, it’s rhetoric. For example, it is easy to knock a mega church for putting money into their building but how many mega-church bashers have actually researched the hundreds of thousands of dollars that said mega-church is giving to inner-city and overseas missions?

It’s also important to remember that as Christians we ARE the Church, therefore, we are the imperfection that is, the difference that needs to be, and the good that the Church is doing.

5) Declining Accountability

The same group of Christian millennials will be the first to dish out accountability, usually in the form of Church-bashing, but will be the last to receive it. It’ll be rendered them, but they won’t accept it. If you call them out on wayward behavior they will notoriously accuse you of judging them and use the Bible to support their plight. But indeed the Bible says that Christians ARE to judge each other, as we saw earlier. If you identify as Christian then you, oh beloved, fall within the God-appointed jurisdiction of judgment from your sibling in Christ. To be clear, judgment should be read as corrective counsel in attempts to hold one accountable and thus point towards restoration.

Accountability is not only biblical, but it is wonderful. Repentance is a means of turning from darkness and receiving the gift of restoration that is found in Jesus. It’s easy to read repentance as a scary thing. But Hebrews paints a wonderful, gospel-reflecting image of it:

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace, to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16

There is nothing scary about that. If anything it’s overwhelmingly comforting that WE, sinners made pure through Jesus, are not only allowed to but are ENCOURAGED to enter the highest of throne rooms to receive mercy and grace from the Almighty, the one who we have grievously sinned against.

God sees you as His child, beautiful and righteous through His son, Jesus. Let us all remember the love that has been lavished on us and make sure that we go and love likely, in truth and in grace.


32 Responses to 5 Trends Christian Millennials Must Stop Doing

  1. Josh says:

    Another thing that Millenials should stop doing: writing lists about what Millenials should stop doing.

    Seriously, the problems that are listed are not just a Millenial thing, they are found in every generation. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, a better course would be to seek virtue and spiritual growth together . . . and the negative stuff will begin to fade away.

    • Jason says:

      First, Josh, I’m sorry if this article convicted you as strongly as it seems from your response. There’s certainly a lot of strong direct truth in it. I hope you’ll get past your offense and seriously ponder the text.

      I disagree with you in that the “tolerance” and justification of things like gay marriage by Christians is really a millennial issue. You didn’t see Gen X or Baby Boomers rushing out to justify abortion or gay marriage like you do from millennials. There has also been a major push to reject sound doctrine in the last decade or so that we haven’t seen in previous generations. You may not like that millennials are the biggest group to have these particular items apply…but logically the author’s position is sound.

      Yes, things like avoiding accountability or bashing the church isn’t new, but it wasn’t until recently that pastors are routinely called bigots by people claiming to be Christians because the pastor is standing on Jesus’s word vs. the world’s definition of what’s acceptable.

      • Josh says:

        No, I’m not offended because I’m not a millenial. I’m a Gen-Xer.

        And for the “tolerance” issue, yeah, it has been a bad problem for earlier generations. Earlier generations “tolerated” things like racism . . . that’s terrible! There are older folks in our churches use the “n” word. That’s terrible! Also, what about the older generation tolerating false doctrine like the health and wealth crap? What generation were the folks a part of that were sending crazy amounts of money to those cooky televangelists, huh? Huh? It was the Baby Boomers.
        What about tolerating abuses of power in leadership? I thought Jesus said that we were not supposed to have leadership like the pagans. But that older generation sure did tolerate those who whipped people down with their religious power.

        And Millenials are the biggest group to accept false doctrine. That’s a bunch of Mularkey. I went to college and seminary with a bunch of Millenials who knew the Bible well and had a nose for sniffing out false doctrine. But I guess the older generation was so much better . . . with all of its Jim Jones and David Koresh’s and “blab it and grab it,” “America is God’s chosen nation” teaching.

        There’s a reason why some bash the church. And some need to listen to that bashing. Some bash it not because they hate it but they love the Lord’s church.

        And oh yeah, you know one of the reasons why Millenial Christians who were brought up in the church might be a little behind in maturity? It’s because they were often latch key kids whose parents dropped them off at the local youth ministry, depending on it to keep their kids straight. They were too busy spending money on the latest fads and hopping from vacation/ recreation to the next. One generation makes the next.

        • Chris Blalock says:

          This is the best thing I’ve read all day. : ) From one Gen Xer to another –
          Thanks Josh!

        • Dave Gingrich says:

          Josh, the article was very valuable to me, a Boomer, so valuable I shared it with my Mom (born 1927), my wife (another boomer), my kids (Gen X like you) and my grandkids (not sure if there is a name for their generation yet). I hope you will reconsider and appropriate the truths John has shared here.

          • Josh says:

            There good . . . but they just don’t apply to one generation. And Millenials are very different from each other, just like every generation.

            And the whole thing about being too critical of the church. Folks, we might ought to start listening to some of those criticisms. The Spirit’s voice just might be in some of them.

        • Tom Alt says:

          Apparently we are comparing olives and grapes when you go from a discussion about the Church to talking about Jones and Koresh. How can you, in good conscience, compare cultists to Christians? If you want to be taken seriously in a discussion try to avoid foolish statements.

    • LaVorna J Tester says:

      Josh, you have a point that ALL generations have faults included in this list. It is not a generational thing. However, if we bash each other over “small offenses” like this, aren’t we missing the point? You’ve stated your disagreement with the article. Okay. The information- apart from attributing it to millennials- is still valid for ALL Christians. Can we at least agree on that and get on with what God sent us here to do?

  2. Jeff says:

    Josh, I don’t think that John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and a long line of others who summoned people to repentance would agree with you. Sometimes it is important to say “no.” As in, NO, don’t walk along the edge of that crumbling cliff.

  3. Ron says:

    Right on, John. Your article should be required reading for any/all who would claim Christianity as their religious belief system.

  4. Josh says:

    I’m going to stick up for Millenials (because I hate this whole stereotyping generations thing). For one, not all Millenials are the same. This critique largely applies to white, hipster Millenials. Guess what? There are black, brown, poor, lower class, farm workers, family oriented . . . da da da . . . Millenials. I just met with a couple this evening for pre-marital counseling and they do not fit into the critiques that were presented.

    And by the way, the past generation of Christians – the Baby-Boomers, they tolerated a lot of things IN THE CHURCH that they should not have. And you want to talk about neglecting theology, sheesh, the Baby-Boomer generation was super utilitarian (and as a result, neglected theology and often ethics/morality). And about separation from the world, many Millenial Christians are choosing to invest in the world and find ways to connect their faith to everyday life. A recent article noted that they were sharing their faith more than any other generation (https://www.mnnonline.org/news/milennials-share-christ-more-than-any-other-generation/)

    And for accountability, well, I am a Methodist and there is a renewed interest practice of Classes and Bands happening right now. And this new emergence of accountability among Christians is being led by . . . you guessed it, Millenials.

    I get the gist of the article and I agree that there is a segment of Millenial Christians that this applies to. It is hipster, coffee sipping social media/ blogosphere types. But do they represent ALL Millenials? Heck NO! The author might ought to get out there and explore the differences among Millenial Christians (there are differences!) and not sweep all of them under general criticism. The Lord is moving mightily in this generation and we wall should be rejoicing in them and supporting their faith and efforts.

    • Ron says:

      Just a quick question. You differentiate between the right Millennials and the not so right Millennials. Should the same differentiation not be applied to Christians? It seems that Millennials’ main thrust is to discredit Orthodox Christianity. I get that opinion from the many FB posts by Millennials. If you feel that you are on the right path, you must follow your feelings knowing full well that you have determined your eternal future.

      • Josh says:

        Again, you are taking what you have experienced from some Millenials and applying it to all. My advice would be to get off Facebook, find a place where younger Christians are engaging in ministry (they are out there), and join in with them. Life is too short to be playing the generational blame game.

  5. Scott says:

    Since we seem to be playing the blame game, the real blame goes to the boomers (for the record I was born in 55, so I am one). At 18 we took everything our parents taught us, and in our great wisdom threw it our the window and decided to figure out what was right. We blew 2000 thousand years of tradition and wisdom out the window and it has been chaos ever since. We are mostly the parents of the Gen-Xer’s and we taught them little and gave them little to go on. Our fault not theirs. Lay off the millennials they are in part suffering from our lack of parenting but many of the ones I know are figuring it out and those that have come to the church are solid. What we need to do is spread the word, teach the ways of the Lord to our grandkids, and make disciples for Christ. That is always job one!

  6. Sam says:

    Bottom line, what Millennial Christians and all other Christians should be doing is getting serious about holiness/ sanctification. We are no longer our own, so start living accordingly.

  7. Nick Stuart says:

    Add a bridge to all the traditional hymns, crank the sound system to 11, throw in a light show and a smoke generator. Everything will be fine.

  8. Bananas says:

    “If it has an explicit language sticker on it then there’s really no justification to be listening to it. It needs to be tossed.”

    I hear more explicit language from workmates than on an album. I really don’t see what difference it makes at this point. Granted I tend to listen to 70’s rock and classical more than hip-hop. Rather than make your decisions based on whether Mrs Al Gore’s warning label is on the case, think for yourself.

  9. Bananas says:

    Regarding tolerance: St Paul says not to judge those outside the church. To tolerate is to “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.” Absolutely we should be tolerant of those outside the church. Within, we should also err on the side of agreeing to disagree as St Paul also says, iirc, to give the boot to those who are divisive. The Bible is open to interpretation, even the most fundamental of fundamentalists will argue over passages. For some people, supra vs infra-lapsarianism is a dealbreaking issue, while the rest of us aren’t sure about women pastors or whether women are allowed to be career-minded. St Paul said of love, truth and hope, love is the greatest. There is a line, but tolerance absolutely is a good and necessary virtue. You can’t bind others to your particular conscience, that’s legalism, everyone has their own relationship with God.

  10. Jon says:

    Wow! A lot of pride showing in these replies. Humility anyone? God help us. Come soon Jesus and rescue us from ouselves. We continue to prove how much we need you.

  11. Matt says:

    I find it odd that Josh would say that we need to stop focusing on what is wrong and yet spends so much time writing about what is wrong with the older generation. This runs counter to his own suggestion to seek virtue and spiritual growth. That being said, wrongs need to be pointed out so they can be dealt with.

  12. Ashley says:

    This is true of every generation. Paul, Peter, James and other authors wrote about the same things. But it is good to keep reminding us. I do agree with a commenter above, though, that this sounds very much like American, white, middle class Christianity and that is a small but unfortunately loud part of young, orthodox Christianity. Go experience the church in Ethiopia, China, India, Jordan, and hundreds of other non-Western areas and you will see an orthodoxy we in the states should be massively envious for.

    Not so much a critique, friend. Just remember that nothing is new under the sun, and orthodox Christianity is MUCH bigger than white, American evangelicalism.

  13. Kim B says:

    Hi, I could write this same list and direct it to Christians who claim they own the Bible and largely ignore it. (Really, can you only cite a couple of lines in Romans and still claim you know what the Bible says? I suggest the writer and all Christians struggle with all the Gospels for the next six months.) I agree; it’s not tolerance. It’s inclusion. It’s all through the mission of Jesus. Inclusion is expanding the neighbor we are all to love. Instead of going through the flawed thinking/theology in all these points, I’ll just say that the worst offense of Christians nowadays is using Jesus’s name repeatedly and pretty much ignoring everything He said in favor of a more palatable emphasis on proof-texting some of Paul and a few more books. “No one comes to the Father but by Jesus” applies to Christians most of all. So why do they take a high-and-mighty stance and ignore pretty much everything He said?

  14. Kim B says:

    One other thing: The IRD are experts in bearing false witness about other Christians to members of the African community to try to manipulate them. Last I check no one has ‘modernized’ the Ten Commandments by removing that sin.

  15. Kim B says:

    To the moderator who refuses to approve my comments: Do you at the IRD really consider yourself ‘orthodox’? You are not orthodox to the Gospel. Those who violate orthodoxy of the teachings of Jesus preach in support of the current immigration system, against food programs for the hungry, serve wealth and excuse greed. Read Matthew 25:31-45. Why aren’t the actions/acts of omission outlined there in the Book of Discipline? Why shouldn’t pastors who defy Jesus on these matters be brought up on charges?

  16. Theodore A. Jones says:

    “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13

  17. Holly says:

    I’m curious if you know that the link you used regarding why Christians should not watch Harry Potter was satire.

  18. Sam Michelle says:

    Hi I’m a millennial and I left the church. The church has become so divorced from the love and compassion that Jesus taught, that no part of me wants anything to do with it. Furthermore, the way the church has become so involved in politics sickens me. I was raised evangelical. I went to church and Christian private school most of my life. I was taught or at minimum implied that being Christian means that you vote republican. I should note- that when I was 7 years old I was raped by my friends father who also so happened to be the Sunday school teacher at our church. He was a successful businessman, had beautiful wife and 3 daughters, he was leader in the community and in the church. He went on to sexually abuse me for a year – often at church where he took me away for private “bible lessons”. I’m now 30 years old. I have suffered from anxiety and depression, eating disorders, suicidal ideation starting when I was 7 – probably the only reason keeping me from that was my absolute fear of hell – bc I thought I was to blame for my abuse. I never told anyone until I was in my 20s. No one at my church questioned why this grown man had taken such an interest in me – but they handed me off to him every Sunday. Today I’ve gotten my life together thanks to loving friends and family and lots of therapy. I’m also gay. I came out a couple years ago. I knew I wasn’t straight but I kept it to myself because I was ashamed. I forced myself in relationships with men that would always fail and they never felt right. I fell in love with another women and I’ve never felt happier or more free. It is one thing to tell someone not to have sex someone but another to tell someone they can’t love the person they love. It’s telling someone to live without breathing. God created me exactly who I am and I’m very proud to be gay. I wish someone would have shown me that love and acceptance earlier. I hope to grant that to others now. I hope they never have to experience what I did growing up. The church needs to take responsibility much like the Catholic Church is facing now for the horrific sexual abuse problem among its own ranks. Stop silencing and shaming victims and stop hating and tell lgbt ppl that they are broken and abominations. You pervert Jesus message when you do that.

  19. Angela says:

    Thank you for writing this article. It’s so true of my generation. We need to hear this and be convicted, so that we turn back to God (: This is such a valuable article and I’m so thankful you wrote it. I especially love the 2nd point where you said Millennial Christians think they need Jesus but not theology. And I love the analogy you made— it makes so much sense now! That is why so many of my fellow Milliennials are in favor of same-sex marriage, abortion, etc. it’s because they really don’t care to know who God is, to truly know his loves and hates. Such an eye opener. God bless!

  20. Roslyn says:

    I appreciate you for writing this article! I agree with a lot of what you said here!! We confuse God’s love with accepting things we aren’t supposed to. I’ve always liked the saying “hate the sin, love the sinner”. Continue to use your voice and words for God’s glory!

  21. Jhana Hawkins says:

    Hello ! I agree with most of what you said here , especially the subject of tolerance. However, I do believe you used incorrect scriptural references after saying ” when the bible actually tells christian’s to judge each other”. Matthew 7:24 allows those who know the word to feel their OWN conviction. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 helps us understand that there are people outside of GOD’s word and we have to be careful not to indulge to an extent. And if you have a brother or sister in Christ who shares the same ways of the outsider its not to your discretion to reprimand or judge them but to SEPARATE yourself and not keep company with them. If you are a true brother or sister of Christ you will feel his conviction and the scripture will condemn them. Its NEVER up to you to judge or tell someone they’re wrong and NOTHING in the bible contradicts itself Matthew 7:1-3.

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