Question: "Are there any true differences between millennials and people from other generations?"
Answer: Generally speaking, those born between 1980 and 2000 are considered part of what is called the millennial generation or Generation Y. This generation has faced massive changes in technology advancements, culture, and economic stability, which have affected the way these young adults have approached life, employment, and culture. Millennials are often accused of being self-centered, lazy, and generally more immoral than previous generations. Specifically, the Bible does not address the millennial generation or older generations. However, Scripture does speak about youth and old age in detail in both the Old and New Testaments, which is important in evaluating the millennial generation and sorting out misconceptions.
One of the main accusations against millennials is that they are self-centered. Their use of technology and cell phones is used as evidence of a self-obsessed generation focused on posting selfies and getting the most likes on a post or picture. The millennial generation has experienced great growth in technology and therefore is more involved in social media and technology than older generations. To broadly claim, though, that all millennials are self-centered is similar to stating that all baby boomers are grumpy. Many millennials use social media and their phones to stay connected to friends and to impact their community, and older adults do that as well. Much of the millennials’ cell phone and technology use is motivated by the need to connect to others and build relationships—a need God designed humans to have (Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).
Those of older generations also claim that millennials are lazy or inexperienced. Throughout time, those who are older tend to look down on younger generations, and vice versa. Paul recognized this unfortunate truth and therefore encouraged his younger protégé, Timothy, with these words: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Jeremiah doubted his ability to serve God because of his youth, and yet the Lord encouraged him: “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you” (Jeremiah 1:7). Instead of submitting criticism to those of younger generations, it is better to be a mentor and encourager to those who are young.
Finally, millennials of today are generally accused of being more immoral than previous generations. While it’s true that millennials are more likely to voice approval of cohabitation and same-sex relationships, there are studies indicating that millennials practice abstinence more than the two previous generations did. It should also be recognized that, although immorality is much more visible today, it does not mean that sexual sins were not occurring in previous generations. Young adults throughout history have experienced the temptations of “youthful lust” (2 Timothy 2:22). As Solomon states, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Although millennials may have some differences in the way they carry out their work and engage socially, these differences are purely external. Regarding internal spiritual matters, there are no true differences. All humans, no matter what their age, all have the same basic problem of being sinners. Paul states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis added). It is clear in Scripture that all of mankind is in bondage to sin and death and that the only way to be saved out of sin is to trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 6:23). Instead of criticizing millennials, the church should seek to evangelize, mentor, and encourage them in the faith.