“Millennials don’t need to be told the world is broken.”
I heard this statement while sitting in a room the size of Kroger listening to a man named Thom Rainer. He wrote a book on reaching millennials if you’re interested in the idea. He has a positive attitude toward the potential of the 15% Christian generation.
I was so excited as this man talked about my generation. He said millennials want to see a positive change in the world caused by the church. He said millennials are hungry for wisdom from the previous generation. He said millennials are a relational generation looking to connect with people. Unlike so many others, he saw this generation not as hopeless at 15% but full of potential to grow.
The statement above is not unique to millennials. Anyone who sees death knows that the world is broken. Yet, as someone from the older generation talked about my generation articulately, and accurately, I began to see that I was understood. Then as he spoke of our generation not saying that we were lost because we don’t have prayer in schools but with hope, I then began to feel loved.
The reason millennials reject the old ways is that they assume the old ways don’t work. “The world feels just as broken as before, so why don’t we let homosexuals get married? They really want to and the rules that say they shouldn’t are old. Maybe that will foster peace and happiness in the world.” The problem is the Bible speaks against this. The Bible says homosexual relationships don’t lead to human flourishing. Yet, many people view the Bible as a book from one of many religions that say “If you work hard at being good, you will be saved.”
“Most non-Christians believe in God like they believe in George Washington. He exists, and did some things, but what does that mean today in 2015?” –Matt Chandler
At least in the south, most people have had some kind of exposure to Jesus. They’ve gone to an Easter or Christmas service and have heard someone read a verse or verses in the New Testament. They hear verses about love and hope, but that’s not what they’ve seen or experienced. They see or hear stories of aggressive people claiming to be Christians, yelling hostile intolerant things. They’ve also probably had personal negative experiences with the church that piggy-back on the stories they’ve seen or heard. In the end, Christianity seems like a farce that at least has done nothing for society, but more likely has hurt society since it has hurt the individual and others.
Is that the truth about Christianity? If you’re reading this, most likely you are a Christian and you know that is not the truth. God is alive and good! He gives us rules so that we don’t hurt ourselves, but our salvation is not based on following rules. We are saved by grace alone: a wonderful gift from God.
The question then becomes how do we as Christians address this generation that views Christianity as irrelevant or detrimental. We do it by showing through our individual lives. If millennials are indeed a generation that is looking to connect then let’s connect. They’ll have a lot harder time of arguing the truth of Jesus Christ if they see Him working in the life of a dear friend.
“But I’m busy”
Absolutely, everyone seems busy these days. Yet, don’t look at the 85% of millennials that aren’t Christians. Look at 1 individual. Pick one you like, and spend time with them. Have coffee. Invite them over for dinner. It’s the stuff that the church has been asking its congregation to do for years, because it works.
“Shouldn’t I pick the sad loser kid that plays World of Warcraft all the time and eats red vines?”
No! Leave that kid for me. I love those kids. I love the World of Warcraft. I had to stop because it became like crack-cocaine for me, but if the Lord would let me conquer the Legions of Illadin again for His Kingdom then I would. Woo, that’s a lot of nerd, but you get my point.
In evangelism, we should approach the individual as the body of Christ instead of individual to individual. We all have strengths and weaknesses. So where you are strong and I am weak, you shall act, and where you are weak, and I am strong, I shall act. Let’s play to our strengths but never neglect to engage.
Living our life with someone will take time. This isn’t a strategy to get a whole bunch of people into the church quickly, or maybe it is. I dunno, God can act in any way. Still, judging by the conditions of the present time and by convictions from the Bible, I think it’s best to at least consider this strategy in reaching millennials.