I can’t speak for everyone’s church experience, but I can say something about mine. I’ve noticed that my fellow millennials and I don’t really speak to each other. We show up, sit in our usual seats (usually spread out in different areas of the Church) and don’t interact before, during, or after the service. The case might well be is that we’re in different phases at this point and time: some are married with young children, some are single with young children, some are married without children, and some are single without children. It just seems odd.
I remember reading that America is in a time where people in general have fewer friendships but the friendships they have are deeper. ‘Quality, not quantity’ some might say. It just seems to me that given the small number of millennials in general at my church, that there’s hardly any friendship between them at all. We are a group of people with enough in common to be at the same place and the same time, but nothing special enough about it to turn our acquaintanceship into a friendship.
One would think that the church’s primary mission ought to be to encourage all kinds of healthy relationships between people – but I often find that message is so marriage-focused that many people are often ignored when they need to be connected to in friendship the most. Jesus’ teachings indicated that anybody who left behind their physical family would find a spiritual one in the Church. Jesus never required marriage as a metaphor for the Christ / Church relationship – that’s something the church had read into relationships for men and women based off of it’s own ideas. As a consequence, partial families and single people are often preached against for their perceived imperfection while married couples are praised for their obedience to the church’s ideas.
For single believers, friendship is often not on the menu. With so many single women being taught marriage preparation for years and years, they first questions on their mind is whether or not they are cheating on their future spouse in any given interaction with guys. They’re not God and so they don’t know that the guy on the other side of the aisle might or might not be him, they err on the side of caution that it isn’t and act accordingly so that sin is avoided. At any rate, they are taught not to initiate relationships as that is not her role.
There’s no relaxing or taking it easy and no friendships being encouraged out of fear. Single women usually outnumber single guys – I can’t speak to their experience in small churches like mine. I can say that they hold all of the cards but if they’re not willing to place them on the table, then there’s nothing anyone else can do to hurry up the game along but wait on him to take and complete his turn however long it takes.
It’s also not easy to bridge the divide between the millennials who are married with kids and the ones that aren’t. How do you become or remain friends with someone who is so busy that they have precious little time or someone who seems to have all the time in the world? I honestly believe that Christianity has missed the point of Scripture – the church is a family of siblings – brothers and sisters in the faith. The church is not a family of married couples – of wives and husbands in the faith. In a time when quality relationships are few, the church is certainly missing out on any contribution it could make so long as marriage is more important than friends.