For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we catch up with Caleb Breakey.
Caleb Breakey is author of Called to Stay: An Uncompromising Mission to Save Your Church. You can follow him on Twitter. Caleb also has a forthcoming book to be published in January 2014 titled, Dating Like Airplanes: Why Just Fall in Love When You Can Fly?
Today we chat with Caleb about Millennials, authenticity, and listening.
In your book, Called to Stay, you voice some of the generational tensions that Millennials have voiced and yet you don't counsel them to give up on the church, but to stay, why?
There's a vibe circulating among Millennials that Jesus would turn over tables in most churches. I totally get that. Some churches are really unlovely. But you know what Jesus would do in those churches? He would speak the truth. He would say, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15). He would love the unlovely people inside them the same way he loves sinners and tax collectors. He would commend the churches for what they're doing right, then call them to overcome the things they're doing wrong (Revelation 2-3). He would set a new tone of love, truth, and unity—regardless of what the congregation thought of him. We should too.
What is a myth about Millennials that are prevalent in leadership circles?
That their passion to do bigger things for Jesus is more of an idealistic phase than a Spirit-lit fire. I think Francis Chan touched on this when he wrote, "As a church, we tend to do this to people who are passionate and bold. We mellow them out. Institutionalize them. Deaden them to the work that the spirit is doing in them."
How would you encourage older pastors and church leaders to engage the Millennials in their church, particularly on issues where they may disagree?
Sit down and get real with them in a setting that's more comfortable to them than you. Trade in your suit for some jeans and a T-shirt. Don't be someone you're not, but be a shepherd who's not ashamed of lounging in smelliness with his sheep. Ping-Pong with them conversationally. Don't simply look for opportunities to say what you want. Listen to what they're saying and respond in a way that's authentic, loving, and thought provoking. Start there and you're ready to engage them about anything.
How would you counsel Millennials to listen to their older brothers and sisters in the Lord?
Let your older brothers and sisters speak seventy percent of the time to your thirty percent. Honor them as you would a parent or grandparent. Not just with your body language and closed mouth, but with ears eager to listen. Take in what they say and ask good questions. Also be observant. If your brothers and sisters reflect Jesus in what they do and how they speak, seek them out regularly to learn from them. If they don't, accept them where they are and ask God how he might use you in their journey.
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