Thursday, November 6, 2014

Turn Out for What?

Although many pundits emphasized the importance of the Millennial vote in the mid-term election, very few ended up voting on Tuesday.  In fact, only 13% of voters were age 18-29, an even lower turnout than in past elections.

Not even Lil Jon and his star-studded “Turn Out for What” video could rally young voters.

photo from the #turnoutforwhat video

Many consider Millennials to be unmotivated, whether it’s in elections, career advancement, or church attendance, and would chalk up this week’s election as one more example.

However, I agree with Jim Denison's assessment of the Millennial mindset in his excellent recent article:

“Millennials [are] intensely motivated, but by their personal mission rather than their financial success…They have little ‘brand loyalty’ to a particular organization, denomination, or political party. However, they are intensely loyal to those whose mission aligns with their own.”

On Tuesday, Millennials voted by not voting. They voted to opt out of a system that doesn’t align with their ideals. They are tired of empty rhetoric, broken promises, and the inertia of bureaucracy. And although I strongly believe as Christians we need to exercise our right to vote, I nonetheless admire the integrity of Millennials. Why stay loyal to something that is not in line with one’s values or mission?

Likewise, when it comes to the institutional church, Millennials are voting with their feet. They are leaving the church in droves, although not necessarily abandoning the Christian faith. Instead of pointing the finger at Millennials, assuming that once again they are just unmotivated, perhaps the church should take the opportunity to explore ways of focusing less on “brand loyalty” such as denominational issues, and more on instilling a sense of personal mission as a follower of Christ.

Until then, whether it’s in politics or the church, Millennials may continue to wonder, Turn out for what?  

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