How do you solve a problem like “millennials”?

patrick henry college

Millennials are little understood, but not for lack of trying. Whether it’s in politics, education, business, marketing, or retail, everyone wants to understand what makes millennials tick. I don’t claim to have any special insight into people a third my age, but as the Founder of a College whose students are all millennials (and the father of more than a few of my own), I do have access to great source material.

Recently one of my students studying American Politics and Policy at Patrick Henry College, Jonathan Monroe, did his internship at the Family Research Council. Jonathan wrote a white paper entitled “Millennials: Hard to Pin Down, Yet Ripe for Conversion.” Jonathan identifies several contradictions in millennials’ values. For example, 70 percent of millennials say they want to get married, but 44 percent view marriage as obsolete. It doesn’t take a math major to know something doesn’t add up.

Jonathan argues that one reason why millennials are so confused is because the church –historically an unapologetic advocate for truth– has instead concerned itself with becoming “palatable and relevant.” Ironically, despite these misguided priorities, Jonathan’s research shows that millennials view the church as “distasteful and irrelevant.” Jonathan’s research has been cited by both conservatives and liberals. It affirms what we all have observed. In general, millennials are actually quite smart. They can quickly sniff out the inauthentic, the parody, and the cheap imitation. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen that because they are seldom taught the truth, they lack the strength or motivation to take a stand and develop convictions.

The problem with the most educated generation in human history is not that they lack knowledge or information. The problem is that this knowledge (which once was only accrued over time) is available to them long before the wisdom that comes with experience. If wisdom is the appropriate application of knowledge to life, it’s no wonder these young people are confused.

While there is no substitute for experience, we can’t forget the primary source of wisdom! Wisdom can be taught.

We don’t have to experience every bad thing or every consequence of a mistaken philosophy to know that it’s bad. We can learn from the experiences of others. With a healthy respect for history, we can avoid the mistakes of our predecessors. That is wisdom. Even more importantly, the Word of God is the ultimate and ever-reliable source of all wisdom – the “lamp for my feet and the light for my path.”

Here at Patrick Henry College we believe that a College education that teaches knowledge but excludes the truth of God’s Word and a respect for the historical tradition is an education that cannot and will not produce wise students. That’s why Patrick Henry College is a Classical Christian Liberal Arts College and that is what makes it different. The world doesn’t need more smart kids. The world needs wise and thoughtful young leaders who are willing to take a stand for Christ and for Liberty. By God’s grace, these are exactly the type of leaders we’re training at Patrick Henry College.

Here’s the great news: millennials are not a problem we have to solve. Quite the contrary. They’re the very people who –if empowered with the truth– can be used mightily by God to reform and redeem our country and society. Here at Patrick Henry College we believe millennials can and will be part of the solution. We hope you’ll join us in training this generation.

For Christ and for Liberty,

Michael P. Farris, J.D.

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