Honesty forces me to admit that I am not an expert when it comes to understanding and ministering to millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996). But I will say that it is my desire to reach people of every age with the good news of Jesus Christ, and that certainly includes young adults (millennials).
Just the other day I was reading through “Our Secular Age: Ten Years of Reading and Applying Charles Taylor” when I stumbled onto a chapter that discusses the ways that we can reach millennials. The chapter was written by Derek Rishmawy , and I want to take just a moment to summarize the argument that he is making.
So, how do we minister to millennials?
- Shun despair and nostalgia
- The church needs to be careful about acting as if we are a people without hope. This is a problem that I see frequently on social media. Anger, rage, hopelessness, and cynicism, are all too common. It is clear to many of us that our culture is changing and we are not quite sure what to do or how to respond. The problem is that we won’t make much difference in this world if we, as Russell Moore puts it, “are longing for Mayberry.” We need to know that when we give into cultural despair or continually pine for the good ole days, we are revealing that we have lost sight of the good news of Jesus Christ. There is nothing attractive to millennials, or anyone else for that matter, when the church acts as if God is off his throne and clueless about what to do with this lost world.
- Preach apologetically
- The argument that Rishmawy seems to be making is that we live in a day and time when people are actually open to having “spiritual” conversations. This means that there is a good opportunity to make a case for the legitimacy of Christianity! We need to do a better job of explaining how the gospel answers the deepest needs and longings of the human heart. This world and everyday life have meaning BECAUSE God is real, and he desires to be in relationship with his creation.
“Even if we can’t answer every question, we can begin to show them there is a robust, intellectual tradition of Christian reflection on these issues beyond the half-remembered lessons they received in Sunday School.” -Our Secular Age
- Make space for Thomas
- This might be the one that stands out to me the most. Millennials are at an age, a stage of life, where they have lots of questions about faith and the meaning of life. The mistake the church makes many times is failing to allow people to ask tough questions. Instead, we throw out cliches and pat answers that don’t ring true, or we make it seem like it is a bad thing to ask questions in the first place. This is one reason that in September we are going to do a sermon series entitled, “Questioning Christianity: Dealing With Tough Questions About the Faith” (Click the link and then scroll down just a bit and you will see it).
Love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or questions!