This is an interesting question asked by Frank Viola at Beyond Evangelical in his post called thoughts on the coming revival.. Of course all the responses will be purely speculative but surely we can base our assumptions on how we define the cultural trends today and project that into how a revival might look.
If revival comes to the United States again, what will it look like and how will it differ from the past two revivals of the 20th century?
My perspective is one of a person born in the year 1980. That makes me one of the kids born on the cusp between two recognized generations. My older peers make up what has become known as generation X and my younger peers make up the door busters generation Y, also known as the millennial generation. Millennials are those who were born between that years 1980 and 2000. It is this generation that I believe will be the group largely affected and involved in any upcoming revival. Right now we range between the ages of 12 and 32 but many of those in their 30s also share our thoughts and ways.
Even amidst many commonalities, millennials are a very diverse group. Some of the things that defined prior generations are sewn into a coat of many colors within this age group. Racially we are incredibly diverse as the melting pot of American society has brought families of different ethnicities together to form an indefinable mixture of folks. Race is not an issue with this generation. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is coming true. Add to that the age old foundation of unity found in religion. For a millennial, diversity of religious views is a non issue as long as it doesn’t hurt relationships. Three out of four millennials say they are spiritual but not religious and only 13 percent considered spirituality to be important. Basically, most people in this age group have a mix and match mentality about spiritual matters and take what they like from every view they hear to form their own spiritual views. These views typically maintain a constant state of change as we meet and interact with others. That is a drastic shift from the previous generations in both areas of ethnicity and religious views which largely shaped and defined the popular mindset of those generations.
Can you see the promise of such a wonderful group of people? Here you have a generation that is flooding our schools, colleges and workplaces and they are on a mission to change the world. Their top priorities are their relationships with their families and friends. Although only 1 in 20 people of this generation would claim to be orthodox evangelical Christians, at the same time a large number of professing believers who gladly make that claim are themselves leaving the edifices of organized religion and working toward a more relationship focused faith. This is why I think that very soon the Church will begin to have more of an impact on the millennial generation. As they see the gospel of our Lord Jesus not only preached but lived out in a familial fashion they will recognize that Jesus is the only source for true and lasting change. This will fall right in line with the importance of fulfilling God’s eternal purpose and advancing His kingdom as opposed to the previously popular focus of saving individual souls.
The millennial generation is ripe for the harvest. Not because they want a get out of hell free card but because they want to change the world for the better. As we millennials grow and learn from the world around us it becomes more evident that the practices and attempts of making lasting change have either failed or succeeded with undesirable effects. Once this generation learns about God’s plan and desire for creating all that there is I believe the news will spread like wild fire. With such deep convictions of the importance of relationships and the desire to make the world a better place, the believers from the millennial generation will be the raw building materials for God’s dwelling place on earth and give Him a physical body to display Himself to the world. The millennial revival will be the like an amplified “Jesus only” movement with modern technology offering connectivity that has never before been possible. When Jesus begins changing the hearts of this generation we will likely turn the world upside down and God’s eternal purpose in Christ will become more of a reality in time. There could be a revolution in the church hand in hand with a revival of many coming into Christ.