Teaching Sin to Millennials

CNE – This is for you.

My role as a college prof put me in direct contact with Millennials.  Millennials are the generation that falls between the ages 12-26.  I am from Generation X (Nirvana & Saved By the Bell rules).  We all know of the Baby Boomers.  My grandparents are the remaining Builders.

Millennials are tech-savvy, postmodern-thinkers who find themselves to be socially liberal, anti-demoninational, and somewhat skeptical of the church, organized religion or people who claim to be “Christian.”

Therefore teaching the Bible and the Christian faith to Millennials can be a challenge.  No topic is more difficult than sin.  Millennials do not like to be referred to as sinners.  They don’t want anyone calling them sinful and they will not judge others for their sin.  What is right/wrong for me has NOTHING to do with what is right/wrong for you.

This is postmodernity at it heights: fully tolerant, non-judgment, anti-absolute truth, and accepting of all moral codes (or lack thereof).

So how do you teach Genesis 3, the fall of Adam, and the beginning of sin in all humankind?  How do I tell them they are sinners stained by the curse of sin without telling them they are sinners stained by the curse of sin?

Here is my attempt (taken from class – Sept. 3, 2009)

Friends, I will never call you a sinner…but you can call me one.  Because I am a sinner.

I will never point my finger at the sin in your life, but you can point out my sin.  You can all me a low-down, dirty rotten sinner and you would be right… because that is what I am.

If you knew the thoughts in my head or the things in my heart, you would think they should never let me teach in a Christian school or preach a sermon in a church.  If you knew the battles I fight against the sin in my life, you might be shocked.

But I will never, ever call you a sinner…but you can call me one.  And you would be exactly right.


4 thoughts on “Teaching Sin to Millennials

  1. I’m going to play Paul Harvey here, but now we need “the rest of the story”. Please post how the class responded. This is a great lesson in sharing the gospel with millennials.

  2. Interesting — I like your approach of putting the “sinner” label on yourself to make them think about whether or not they should do the same. But what happens when that doesn’t resonate?

  3. I still believe the best approach to the “sin” problem is to define it. Most people regardless of their generation will not call themselves “bad” people which the “archaic” term “sinner” implies. However, everyone I have met in my years and in my travels, claims to be the boss or authority of their own lives. This idea praticed was, is and always will be sin. If anyone beside the Sovereign God of the universe is calling the shots, sin abounds. I can even be doing something “good” but do it on my own authority…it is sin. I believe Millennials will be perfectly fine with their prof. being a “sinner.” What does it matter to them? Who are they to “judge”? You could call yourself a “hula-hoop” and maybe get a smirk or two, but it won’t change a thing.

    But I am saying nothing you don’t already know…Keep up the good fight brother.

    Here’s to sin!

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