The Millennial Generation (roughly those born between 1980-2000) tends to get a bad reputation with many people in local church communities. Members of these churches tend to say they are too open-minded in regards to society’s controversial issues or that they are too willing to do away with the established modern church traditions. But it is the issue of financial giving (tithing) or “the lack there of” which has become associated with Millennials by many in the older generations.
This stigma has many contributing factors, which is caused by a misunderstanding about Millennials. I have heard it said that this generation would be the first in many to not make as much money as its predecessor. The cause for this is believed to be the result of Millennials feeling as though there is nothing left to achieve financially or materialistically and as a result they wish to give back. This is why many Millennials (for better or worse) have an ingrained idealistic view of the world. We honestly believe we can some how make the world a better place by our actions. As a result we give in different ways. My generation is not going to give to a church because “that is what you are supposed to do.” Instead we are willing to give in smaller amounts to different organizations we feel are positively serving the world. This could mean we give a little bit of our income to the local church as well as to Compassion International, Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, CBF’s Offering for Global Missions, etc.
We also look for ways to give other than through financial means. Volunteerism is quite common among Millennials and it is rare to find people in this generation who have not volunteered for a significant amount of time at some point in their short lives. We may wish to give back to our churches by donating our talents as a way of helping other members of our local church and community. This asset based ministry approach is appealing to Millennials because it can help to bring about a more authentic church.
Furthermore, Millennials are constantly seeking authenticity. This generation can tell when people are not being truthful or if they are pretending to be someone they are not. This is why Millennials who would identify themselves as religious (and those who would not), have issue with many “religious” figures. This in part is because many of us experienced the scandals of the televangelists in the 1980s and early 1990s. We are still skeptical of preachers as a result of seeing these religious leaders’ lies devastate millions of people. The truth is Millennials are huge supporters of a cause, or a person, they find authentic. We will give of our time and finances if we believe an organization or an individual is truly helping people achieve better lives.
Finally, the Internet has changed the way we give. Its serves as an integral part of our lives. We use it to give financially and to build relationships. We are not afraid of technology; instead, we see it as a way to better society.
So the next time an empty offering plate gets passed by a Millennial, lets consider that he or she might be tithing in new and creative ways we haven’t imagined.