Emotionally Healthy Spirituality was created in a multiracial, socio-economically and generationally diverse community. New Life Fellowship, where EHS was birthed and where I serve as the lead pastor, has been exposed to EHS far longer and deeper than any other community. Because of this, we have seen profound fruit in the lives of our church family, especially among the Millennial Generation.
The Millennial Generation is the group of people whose birth years range from 1980 to 2000. (You may want to look at Thom Rainer’s book, The Millennials to understand more about this generation). I was exposed to EHS as a 28-year old (I’m 37 as I write this), and, for the past decade my formation in Christ has been deeply impacted and shaped by this paradigm. In the process I have had innumberable conversations with many others from my generation about EHS.
As a result, I have up with 3 primary reasons EHS speaks so powerfully to the Millenial Generation. It offers:
1. A Spirituality for integration and not compartmentalization
EHS is a discipleship approach that integrates all of life under the Lordship of Jesus. Our inner world, related to feelings and emotions, is not cut off from our so-called “spiritual life.” As Richard Rohr has said, “Everything belongs.” Millennials are looking for a spirituality that doesn’t split the world into a sacred/secular dichotomy. In addition to personal integration, Millennials have gravitated towards EHS because of its theological integration. The EHS discipleship paradigm has been shaped by the great traditions of the Church. We have learned that this ecumenicism, within the context of our Protestant/Evangelical tribe, has created a spirituality of generosity that has appealed to folks skeptical of judgmental postures.
2. A Spirituality for interiority and not simply exterior action
EHS has resonated with Millennials in our context because of its emphasis of interiority. The iceberg is our unofficial logo, inviting people to look deep beneath the surface of their lives. In a recent EHS course, many of us were impacted to see how many teenagers took to the theological and discipleship content. They were invited to look into their past to see the ways they have been shaped. We heard powerful stories of teens hungry to grow into their authentic self in Christ. This greater knowledge of self has created entry points to understand God and the good news of his grace.
3. A Spirituality for brokenness and not performance
Finally, I’ve observed how attractive EHS is to this Millennial Generation because of its prioritizing of brokenness. The Millennials in our church have repeatedly emphasized the freedom they have to be honest about their brokenness. EHS creates an anti-performance culture that creates safe space for vulnerability. This is what our churches need. Millennials, like many generations, are skeptical of religious performance. They are looking for communities of shared struggle and shared grace. EHS is one of the ways towards this.
As we think about engaging emerging generations, we need a more comprehensive, authentic and deep spiritual framework that changes lives. We’ve seen how EHS does exactly that with Millennials.
To God be the Glory.
– Rich Villodas
Join Pete Scazzero on Thursday, October 6th for a one-day live stream event aimed to equip Lead Pastors, Associate Pastors and Church Discipleship Leaders with the practical tools to launch the EHS Course in your church. Click on the image below for more information.