A lot of churches have a hard time reaching Millennials in their communities. Sometimes, it just feels like church culture doesn’t jive with Millennial culture.
Church culture is supposed to be about service, and many Millennials seem selfish. Church culture is based on belief in God, and many Millennials don’t believe in God (the Christian one, anyway).
I’m a Millennial, and as I’ve spent much of my life actively participating in the local church, I have been blessed by a number of wise people who have taken me by the hand and shown me the way to rightly understand God and become more like Jesus. In these people, I have noticed at least two common denominators, and I wanted to make note of them for any of you who may be trying to lead Millennials spiritually.
Here are two brief tips to be a bit more effective at reaching and leading Millennials:
This is not to say it is wrong to convict someone of sin. Obviously, if you’re discipling someone or leading them spiritually in another way, an important part of that relationship is going to be recognizing and repenting of sin.
1. Coach before you condemn.
What I mean to say is this: instead of approaching sin with a condemnatory tone, try a tone with less contempt, perhaps a “coaching” tone. Consider yourself a “supporter” rather than an “accuser.”
Inherent in the idea of a coach or a supporter is the desire for the person you are leading to succeed. Such is not the case for one who is an accuser, condemning others because of their sin.
As you lead a Millennial toward trusting in Christ or becoming more like him, do so with a tone that reminds him or her that you want the best for them.
As you’re leading someone to believe in or become more like Christ, you will necessarily have to provide some clear, direct instruction.
2. Ask before you tell.
For instance, if you’re discipling a young man who has made an idol of his work, you would be wise to direct him toward finding his worth in Christ, not his paycheck or his prestige on the org chart.
However, as you recognize the idolatry in the young man’s heart, you may be more effective if you approach the situation inquisitively rather than commandingly.
For example, perhaps the young man was denied a promotion and was subsequently cursing his employer he was so angry.
Leading questions to approach the heart of the issue such as, “Why do you think you responded the way you did?” may be more effective than, “Being angry because you didn’t get the promotion is a sin and you need to repent.” You may need to say that second statement at some point, but it may be best to first try to lead the person you’re leading to that conclusion him- or herself.
These are simple thoughts, not profound by any means, that may help you better connect with Millennials as they live, work, and play in your communities.
- CHRIS MARTIN
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social, as well as an Author Development Specialist at LifeWay. He started MillenialEvangelical.com and is also the author of Ministering to Millennials due out in 2018.