What I Learned from Millennial College Students on a Mission Trip

You’ve gotta love Millennials.  If you don’t know what they are, this video will explain them to you. 

Millennials get a bad rap. People think they’re so lazy just because they live at home and don’t have a job. Well their hippie parents told them how special they were their whole life and thus it’s not a surprise they don’t want to work a remedial job that doesn’t save the planet. This week I watched Millennials work HARD for something they believed in. We built a house for a disabled couple in Puerto Peñasco Mexico. We literally built the whole thing. We laid the cement slab. We nailed our 2×4’s together to make walls and roofs with all the studs, firewalls, and California corners that were necessary. And we tar papered and stuccoed the whole house all in four nearly 12 hour days.  This was done with 4 twenty-something boys and 6 twenty-something girls born between 1990 and 1997. But I learned a lot about these Millennials. Here’s what stood out the most:

1) They Want to Tangibly Help People

Financial giving, evangelistic crusades, and church ministry in general did not hold a lot of interest to these Millennials. Building a real house for someone who previously lived in a garage door-walled shack definitely peaked their interest. They also loved going around the neighborhood and feeding families our extra PB&J’s and giving soccer balls to local kids. They want to know they are helping an individual human and be able to look into their eyes. 

2) They See Value in All Cultures

They love little unique cultural distinctives. They constantly pointed-out how the locals took care of one another. And in their conversations they constantly talked about wanting to see the world and learning as much as they can from other cultures. They overall don’t have a distinctive love for America. They certainly don’t think it’s better than other places. 

3) Their Phones Are Extensions of Their Own Bodies

We smashed a lot of fingers and all have a knee-sized bandaid somewhere on our body. But no complaints were as loud as when people cracked their screens or lost their data services. Millennials think they’re great at directions because of Google Maps. Their connection to their world is through social media and especially Snap Chat. To cut that off is like having a tingling feeling down your left arm. You can continue with life but it’s very alarming. I watched a Millennial take a picture of a beautiful sunset descending over the rocks by the ocean, then stare at the picture on their phone and say, “I can’t believe I’m here.”  

4) They Say They Distrust Authority, But They Believe What They Say

I watched Christian Millennials argue with each other concerning evolution. Half the group went to a Christian college and were being taught scientific proofs for young-earth creationism. The other half went to public universities and were being taught macro-evolution within an ancient universe. Everyone believed God created the world, but from there, the similarities ended. What was funny, both sides were just quoting their professors. They thought they self-studied this issue, but there wasn’t a biologist or astronomer in the bunch. They claimed to not believe a thing their professors said without verifying it for themselves; they claimed to like when teachers just point them towards information and let them come to their own conclusions; but the truth was, everyone believed their professors, and all of the Millennials argued vigorously (but lovingly) for their professor’s viewpoint. 

5) They Loved Each Other

Millennials are so quick to befriend each other.  Everyone was so diverse theologically and politically and they didn’t care. They genuinely cared about each other. They built true relationships with each other. They united over what they had in common and did not divide over what made them distinct. They served one another and opened up to one another. It was real and authentic and beautiful. 

It was a wonderful experience spending a week with these college Millennials. I especially liked when someone accidentally put on the explicit version from Spotify of Gwen Stefani’s I Ain’t No Hola Back Girl, and I knew I wasn’t going to get a call from an angry parent when I got home from the trip. Such a peace of mind to be with college students who don’t talk to their parents anymore. 

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