The single largest group in the United States, as of now, is the group sociologists refer to as the Millennials. While we have heard about and honored the “Greatest” generation, we seem to have no idea what to do about the “Millennial” one. They are a struggling group. They have seen amazing advances in technology, yet their iPhones have left them with an unsatisfying addiction to porn. They have witnessed unparalleled prosperity, yet are painfully aware that a country trillions of dollars in debt cannot long survive. They are recipients of more information, and more mis-information, than can be processed, and yet don’t know how to handle the unrest in their own hearts and souls. They have faced broken homes, same-sex marriages, and more entertainment than can be enjoyed. They have battled everything from anorexia to porn to depression to a general feeling of dissatisfaction. They feel unloved and unsure of themselves and of their future. They aren’t sure about God, but on the other hand have more questions than answers concerning the claims of science and atheism. Would it be safe to call them the “Broken” generation? They truly are. Their homes and families are. Their future is. Their “battles” have left them that way. So has their education. The question is this: how do you reach this “broken” generation of Millennials? Here are several suggestions:
- Love them, and make sure they know it is unconditional. Remember that the greater percentage of them are from broken homes. The rest are from busy ones. The commands of Jesus to “Love . . . God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:37-40) are huge to them. Their generation is proof positive that “things” do not satisfy. They crave love, and who should be more ready to meet that need than the body of Christ?
- Pray for them and with them. Your prayers may be the best thing going in their lives!
- Introduce them to Jesus. Patiently. Lovingly. Prayerfully. Show them His love. Show them the Gospel and allow them to “come now, and let us reason together” (cf. Isaiah 1:18) as they consider the claims of Christ. Many of them will have huge questions, especially since they have been the recipients of years of misinformation via both their education and their entertainment. Be ready to offer a “defence and confirmation of the Gospel” (cf. Philippians 1:1-17). Brush up on your apologetics! You will need it in order to answer their questions and lead them to Christ.
- Teach them that their great need is Jesus. He alone can heal the brokenness of pornography addiction, anorexia, or distrust that comes from a failed home! He alone can cleanse, comfort, and complete. It seems that in previous generations we could handle the issues of life by throwing some more standards at the issues. Or we could simply preach sermons that ordered them to simply STOP! This generation is too broken to find healing in our standards. They have no more power to “stop” their addictions and battles than a weatherman has to stop a raging hurricane! Unless they find “completion” in Christ and in His strength, they cannot and will not succeed. Perhaps this is the main reason they are ripe for revival. They have no hope apart from Christ alone!
- Spend time with them. They love coffee shops and small group attention. Build their trust and then answer their questions. All of their questions. And if you don’t know the answer, say so, and find it! They will especially question your traditions. Simply allow them to do so. Where your traditions are Biblical, show them! Where they are not, simply say so, and teach them to seek God about those matters. And then allow them to do just that.
- Be aware of their generation and its differences. For instance, while the older folks in our churches love everything “old-fashioned,” the Millennials are a new generation, and don’t respond to Stamps-Baxter music the same way many older folks do. They will like new Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as well as some older ones. They love technology (screens for instance) and love to “see” as well as “hear” a sermon, especially one that is Biblical, logical and practical all at the same time. They love to worship, to pray, and to be allowed to seek God!
- Help them to find areas of service. Millennials love causes. Serving the homeless, visiting the fatherless, caring for widows, and raising money to meet needs are matters of great importance for them. They want to know that faith is not dead, and that their Christianity is making a genuine difference by their works.
- Model genuine Christianity for them. A Christianity that is real and loving and kind. One that makes husbands and wives loving, gentle and romantic. One that makes parents loving models of training and discipleship.
- Be patient with them. They will notice our hypocrisies and inconsistencies and will also draw attention to it. They will react when we act one way at church, but another way at home. They will see through our “straw-men” and will refuse to accept them. They will assume that an angry father and husband is also a fake Christian. They will be bothered when we claim to believe in the Gospel and yet never see lives changed in our churches. They will be just as bothered when we claim to believe in miracles, yet never see one. But on the other hand, they will respond to anything that is genuine and real!
Simply put, it seems that this generation of Millennials want a Christianity that is far more than just a set of teachings to be obeyed. It is rather a PERSON to be followed! After all, isn’t that what Christianity is anyway? May God help all of us to reach this new generation. It very well may become the REVIVAL generation! We hope so, don’t you?
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You might also find this article by Harold Vaughan useful in understanding the issues our youth face today. “Jumping Ship: Why Young People Leave The Church”