Millennials are a unique and often criticized culture generation. These young people are those born between 1980 and 2000. This includes all of my children. They need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel.
Millennials are successfully being impacted with the gospel by Watermark Community Church based in Dallas, Texas. I was able to listen to Jonathan Pokuda (known as JP) share three principles that will help you understand this generation and borrow from some of their strategies. (He was a speaker at the 2018 Winter meeting of Baptist Bible Fellowship International at Hallmark Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.)
If you are not reaching the future generation there will be no future. Look around around your church. Who is still going to be there in 40 years? Most of the adult congregation will be in Heaven. We need to ‘pass the torch’ to the next generation or there will be no next generation.
Millennials are the most influential generation in the church and society. Also known as Gen Y, they compose 1/3 of the world’s population and are the target of business marketing. 81% of Gen Y volunteered somewhere last year. 87% believe environment is their responsibility. 79% want to work for a company that cares about our society. Millennials care about our world. They want to spend time with someone older and wiser. They are powerful and want to make a difference.
They are like LED bulbs. Sometimes frustrating for us to implement. But the change is worth it.
How do we reach Millennials? (Notice the 3 ideas spell L.E.D.)
Lead with authenticity.
The #1 reason Millennials leave the church is they see inauthenticity. We need to be authentic. Know yourself, be yourself, accept yourself.
Be vulnerable. If dependence on God is the goal, then realizing our weakness is the advantage. Let them see your struggles. It’s not the shock value or celebrating sin. There is power in transparency, being honest and real with our weaknesses.
Expand their vision.
Millennials want to do something great. They really think they can change the world and make it a better place. What makes them think they are greater than the older generation?
Jesus had His group of disciples are told them He will build His church and nothing could stop the church. They could change the world. Every generation has the potential to change the world.
But even as Jesus told His disciples that He was going to die, they were discussing who among them was the greatest (Matt. 18:1; Luke 22:24). Like the Millennials, and every generation, they were consumed with their own importance and greatness.
The #1 goal of Millennials is to be rich. Their #2 goal is to be famous. They often ask ‘What’s in it for me?’ We need to challenge them with a greater purpose – ‘What can you do to change the world?’
Watermark has a young adult ministry called ‘The Porch‘. JP shared how they challenge their Millennials.
- Capitalize on their desire to be great and famous and challenge them to be life changers.
- Make heroes out of the those who volunteer. What is rewarded gets repeated. Reward them publicly and give them feed back privately.
- Pray big prayers that challenge their thinking.
- Expand their vision beyond themselves.
- Start with the why before you tell them what. Don’t ask them to do something until you tell them why it needs to be done.
Deploy is different than delegation. Unleash them with your vision.
Don’t do ministry to people; do it through people. Hire people on your staff that are already doing it, now pay them. Corporate America exploits their talent for money. Tell them why they have their talents and use it for the Kingdom.
All volunteers at The Porch are considered bi-vocational. They work at their job and work at the church.
Never go to a meeting alone. Take someone with you for training.
4 steps of deployment:
- I do it; you watch
- Do it together
- You do it; I watch
- Go and do it with someone else.
Like LED bulbs they can be frustrating when we change but they are brighter, long lasting and better.
There have been four great awakenings in America (according to Wikipedia). At the center has been a 20 year old. They have happened approximately every 50 years. We are due to have a fifth. Hopefully, we can see a modern-day awakening in our lifetime. Surely in the lifetime of the Millennials.
- First Awakening: 1730-40 – Jonathan Edwards
- Second Awakening: early 1800 – Peter Cartwright
- Third Awakening: 1850-1900 – Dwight Moody
- Fourth Awakening: 1950-70 – Billy Graham (and Jesus Movement)
The single most strategic thing you can do is find a young adult and pour into them, resource them, and send them out.