Are Millennials Sleepin’, Woke or Both? Reflections on John 20:19-29


A few days ago, I shared a post on Facebook about songs that “never fail to make White people beyond turnt.” 

15894548_10154934465706912_2413869750723562237_nBeing half White, I felt confident in my ability to speak on behalf of all White people and confirm that the overwhelming majority of the songs listed were “turnt-uppers.” (Yes, I made that word up. I’m sure my niece is rolling her eyes, as I type).

In the spirit of Robert’s Rules* (which I despise), one of my Facebook friends seconded my motion, saying, “Being full white… I confirm.”

There we go.

We reached Robert’s idea of consensus.

First on the list: “Don’t Stop Beliving”

Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is one of the littest songs of all time. #HalfWhiteApproved

Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’

Are you turnt yet? Because I am.

This particular verse reminds me of John 20:19-29.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Both Journey and John reinforce the importance of believing:

  • “Don’t Stop Beliving.”
  • “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”

But, my man Thomas… he wasn’t ’bout that life.

And I’d argue Millenials aren’t either.

The Pew Research Center characterizes millennials as “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.”

The good ol’ proverbial chain of command ain’t gunna fly with us. Rather than doing things “the way they’ve always been done,” or “doing as someone say’s,” we seek to understand and make sense of the world.

In order for us to “believe” something to be true– not an alternative fact- we must use our analytical skills to conceptualize and solve said complex or uncomplicated problem in a way that is sensible given the best available information.

I don’t want to speak on behalf of all millennials but I’d argue that if Thomas was with us in 2017, he’d be part of the #GangGangGang.

Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 

I think millennials would agree with his logic.

Could this be one of the reasons why Millenials are leaving the church?

I think so.

When it comes to faith, “Are Millenials Sleepin’, Woke or Both?”

If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear your response but for now, I will share my stance.

I can’t say with confidence that Millenials are sleepin’ on faith because I truly believe Millenials want a relationship with God – which is why so many identify as spiritual- but don’t want the bureaucracy that comes along with organized religion that’s gone astray.

We want to liberate, not oppress. We’re Liberal Social Justice Warriors, taking on human rights issues, fighting for liberation. We’re prepared to transform the world we live in and so desperately want the church to transform with us. We want to hold the church accountable for using the word of God to oppress others.

If you’re not down with the cause, we probably won’t bang with you.

  • Condemn LGBTQ people’s very existence — Oh yes, church, I’m talking to you!
  • Women aren’t allowed in your pulpit — Oh yes, church, I’m talking to you!
  • Invalidate or condemn other religions — Oh yes, church, I’m talking to you!

We’re collectivists. We want to work, collectively, towards a liberating vision. We don’t need to be told that tithing and being “good church folk” will lead to individual blessings. We want to know how, through collective impact, we can transform communities and societies so that all can benefit.

We’re ready to take the reins. We value and want the wisdom of elders but we also want them to release the reins. We want our well-meaning elders to empower us, not “school” us. Millenials want to be engaged…beyond usher duty. We want to put our transformational leadership skills to use in innovative ways. We also don’t want to prove that we’re “good church folk” in order to be engaged beyond the pew.

We keep things a hunid. Urban dictionary translation: we value transparency and authenticity. We don’t want the ‘hollier than thou’ in our #GangGangGang. We want real people, in their naked truth. We are inspired and empowered by those striving to be the best Christian they can be, while still acknowledging that they been through or are still going through some stuff.

Which leads to my next point…

We’re low-key ratchet. No ratchet than the earlier generations but with the advancement of technology and social media, it’s harder to hide our ratchetness. We want a safe space to talk about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, as well as relationships, careers and finance. We want guidance and support, not shame, as we navigate adulthood and embracing our authentic selves.

We’re Thomas. We may not be quick to believe because we don’t always trust organized religion. We’ve seen it used as a tool to oppress and as SJW’s that’s enough for us to end our relationship. We’re trying out best to hold the tension between righteousness and reality. And we need help. We need to feel safe enough to hold the church accountable and to ask “stupid” questions, knowing that the respondent will say, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question. In fact, questions lead to a deeper faith.”

Long story short, I think Millenials are super woke. We just need a church that’s ready to accept us as we are and go on this journey of transformation together. 

Disclaimer: I don’t believe in tokenism. I can’t speak on behalf of all Millenials. This is just one Millenials perspective. Millenial, or not, what do you think? I want to know. 

*Feminist Side Bar: Looking for an alternative to Robert’s Rules of Order? Read Roberta’s Rules. (Yes, this is a real thing. And yes, it is amazing #FeministApproved). 

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