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Sex, Millennials and the Church: Five Implications

My son Jess Rainer and I conducted an extensive study of the Millennials, those persons born between 1980 and 2000. We specifically surveyed 1,200 of the older Millennials, those who were born between 1980 and 1991.

The results of the study were fascinating on a number of levels.

But, probably to the surprise of few, we found that views on sexuality among these young adults are dramatically different from previous generations.

As a Boomer, I thought I was part of the generation that ushered in the sexual revolution. But I had no idea that views on sexuality would change so dramatically with the generation of my three sons.

The implications for local congregations are staggering.

Allow me at this juncture to offer five of those implications. I will expand on them later.

1. Most Millennials, including Christian Millennials, see nothing wrong with unmarried persons living together.

Many of them will come to our churches and be surprised to hear their behavior is sinful.

How churches handle this reality will determine the success of efforts to reach the generation.

2. While the trend toward approval of homosexual marriage is growing in society at large, the positive view is pervasive among Millennials.

Churches that choose to ignore this issue have little hope of impacting culture positively.

3. Millennials will exit quickly from churches whose members are shrill and unloving toward those with nonbiblical views on sexuality.

Unfortunately, many Millennials stereotype all Bible-believing churches as filled with members who carry Westboro-like placards that scream “God hates fags.”

While this is not the case in most churches, there are still some Christians who do a good job of reinforcing that stereotype.

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.