We feel a burden for the next generation. We study culture, ponder possibilities, and lose sleep to prayer. We are motivated by reaching the generation of Millennials sitting in coffee shops, sipping craft beer, caring for the environment, and finding the common good in all people.
Why are we passionate about the next generation of Christ-followers? Many are disenfranchised with the church, walking away from the religion and image of God that was presented to them, whether intentionally or with an unknowing impact of faithful response. If we are not able to give hope of an authentic friendship with Jesus to the next generation, the voice of our loving God could blend into background noise.
Today, we have the most unchurched generation in American history. We either go to them, and help deconstruct the barriers keeping them from Christ, or they will be lost.
So while offering Theodyssey to anybody with the desire for something more, we look to build bridges to the changing culture.
What does research say the next generation is looking for?
They want to be good neighbors. This is beyond social justice, as the next generation wants to listen well, love others expansively, and see the value in all stories, regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc.
The heart of Theodyssey is being conformed to the image of Jesus for the sake of others. We want to train people how to think Biblically, root their identity as a loved child of God, and be a Christ-follower who courageously loves others with truth and grace. We train people to be “good neighbors.”
They want to know the process. How did we arrive at specific stances and doctrines? They desire conversation, freedom to disagree, and encouragement for the journey.
A value of every Theodyssey group is honest dialogue, bringing questions, doubts, and desire to each conversation. We provide safe environments to dismantle distorted views of God, toxic voices from the past, and lies we easily believe. We equip people with tools, hope, and community for a lifelong journey with Jesus.
What does the next generation say they are looking for?
What is true of the next generation? How do they view church, Jesus, and Christians?
“My generation is so obsessed and saturated with self through social media. We find our worth in what our peers think of us, how many likes we got on that Instagram photo, our careers, our relationships, our cool lives full of adventure and travel.”
“My generation is experiencing this existential crisis of, “What does it really mean to be a Christian?” And a revolt from an overly systematized religion. We want something true, authentic, honest, and graceful. And hopeful! And among my friends there is still hope that it can be found, it just feels like you have to discard and put up with a lot of crap to come in touch with it.”
“Many I know view religion as archaic and childish. Because of their negative interactions with theology, it doesn’t seem like Christianity offers satisfactory answers to problems like suffering and pain.”
“This generation is longing to connect and be real, but the church has put on a facade for far too long. I think there is a shift from guilt-innocence to honor-shame, meaning, people want to belong more than just be good or behave.”
“I think a lot of people are getting tired of “spoon fed” religious beliefs. Whether you grew up in the church or not, most people our age typically view faith/ Christianity as a positive; yet there’s now a backlash against rigid rules, judgement, and un-examined religious mandates. I think we’re a generation who seeks meaning more than others, yet are dissatisfied with what the church has so far offered us.”
How can Theodyssey by a voice of hope?
“Theodyssey is a vital voice for this generation because it holds space for the tensions and mysteries that genuine faith require. The process of deconstruction and then reconstruction helps questioning minds wrestle with their messy faith experiences in the context of community.”
“Theodyssey gives the opportunity to encourage one another in the messiness of our lives and stories while pushing us towards God and who he dreams we can become. And honestly, a huge piece is that there are leaders who are trained in listening, cultivating, and facilitating. We need guides who can do this. Also, we need space to wrestle and to be honest.”
Theodyssey gives a space for people to challenge, question, doubt, explore, discover etc. their faith in a way that very few churches or small group settings do. The Theodyssey process for me was influential in developing a faith and relationship with God that was real and big enough to encompass the pains and celebrations of reality. It gave me an avenue to understand what it means to have an alive and active faith with access to my Creator. It showed me what authentic community looks like. It honored my story, illuminated areas that keep me from living fully and offered me a picture of wholeness while inviting me to take steps toward that picture.
Theodyssey provides intentional, committed community which is very absent in our generation – and very needed. It doesn’t come natural to us at all.
We believe God has given us real solutions to answer the longings of this day. Thank you for partnering with us to bring the hope of Jesus to the next generation.