Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (I Timothy 4:12 NIV)
With two children in the Millennial generation (born 1980-2000, nearly 80 million, mostly not Christian) I am proud to announce that this is the largest generation in the U.S. They surpassed the Baby Boomer generation. So how do we reach this generation and what are the challenges?
As based on Facts & Trends: Only 13 percent of the Millennials rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. “They are not angry at churches and Christians. They simply ignore us because they do not deem us as meaningful or relevant.” (Though I may disagree with the idea that they are not interested in spiritual matters, they are not interested in most Christian churches because they do deem them as irrelevant.) Churches that focus on authenticity, community driven and caring for others will do well.
David Apple shared his input at our Leadership Gathering:
They want to make a difference in their community. Think about it and our history: My daughter was 11 years old when the September 11th attacks occurred. She was 13 when the war on Iraq was going full blast the first time. Facebook was launched in 2004, and became the trend. (Ironically the inventor of Facebook was also a Millennial.) At 15 Hurricane Katrina took place, and soon she and my son were there to help out in Mississippi. In 2009 we had the economy collapse. There were several violent shootings across the U.S. as well. This is a generation that wants to make a difference in the community. If you want to reach this generation, community improvement and involvement is a must!
They are looking for Bible-Rich Teaching. This group, ones connected as Christians, wants to wrestle with Scripture. It is not enough for us to give them pat answers. If there was a passage that fits their understanding it would be:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12 NIV)
They want to discuss passages based on Biblical truth and experience. They do not want to sit in a class and simply hear a teacher talk. Ask powerful questions and help them process it for themselves. My daughter loves to debate ethical issues with Scripture. Give them opportunities to discuss Biblical truths.
Relationships are essential. They want authentic relationships that continue outside of class. Age is not the essential issue, but genuine concern and wanting to grow is. They would love to connect to older persons who want to share job skills or other skills they are interested in. They are more connected to their parents and persons their parents’ age as they learn new things. Look again at affinities instead of age for this group.
They are committed to causes. Living in a time where they have seen instability in countries, government and society in general, they want to make a difference. You will find this group ready to volunteer to go out in the community and the world as long as it is helping people in need. My daughter & son have volunteered and found jobs during Hurricane Katrina, Christian children’s and youth camps, as well as local projects like Habitat for Humanity and the Boys & Girls club. They are ready to serve more than many Baby Boomers, but it has to be worth their time. Sunday School for this age must include causes that make a difference.
Through genuine invitation to care, discovering Biblical truths that apply to life and connecting them to causes that matter, this group will bring lots of passion and energy.