“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Luke 10:2). When we are seeking, where are we to start? In order to reach people effectively, we must first understand people collectively.
This is the generational timeline and population of USA.
- G.I. Generation (1904 – 1924) 59.6 million
- Silent Generation (1925 – 1945) 55.4 million
- Boomer Generation (1946 – 1964) 73.9 million
- Generation X (1965 – 1979) 51.5 million
- Millennial Generation (1930 – 2000) 77.9 million
This is not a scientifically proven, but mere principle of logic, the numbers of millennials are the highest. Millennials represent the largest generation in America’s history with almost 80 million members. Another poll says that in 7 years 75% of millennials will be the representation of our workforces.
These people will be in areas of life according to LionShare ministry the 6 domains of life,
- Politicians (Government & Law)
- Teachers (Education & Students)
- CEOs (Business & Commerce)
- Doctors (Health & Wholeness)
- Social Workers (Non-profits & Services)
- Graphic Designers (Arts & Entertainment)
The church people inside and outside will encounter many of these people on a day-to-day basis. However, only 15% of millennials are Christians. This is not something simply be ignored. Something needs to change.
For too long, older Christians have argued and categorized the next generation by profiling and putting millennials on the fringes. Stop calling millennials self-absorbed and entitled. They are created in the IMAGO DEI and they need Jesus Christ!
The fundamental question is this; what are you doing with the millennials in your churches? Here are few things Evangelicals must remember as we engage the next generation
1. Stop Fighting about Non-Essentials over Entertainment
I sadly often hear people argue over the style of music or the color of the carpet. Can I come right out and say it? It’s time for a change for Christian leaders over trivial issues.
Life is too short to fight over the color of the carpet while thousands of lives bypass before our very eyes. Many so-called churches today are nothing more than entertainment centers, while others care more about social issues than the Gospel.
I care more about being true to the Gospel than being, “wowed” by a church experience or all the social issues a church cares about and how the church engages with social change. Nothing but the Gospel.
What does it mean to be evangelical on the doctrinal foundation (1st-degree matters)?
- Agree the Bible is the accurate, written Word of God
- Agree they personally have a responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs.
- Agree their religious faith is important in their lives
- Agree God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and rules the universe today.
- Agree salvation is available through grace alone
- Disagree Jesus committed sins while on Earth
- Disagree that Satan is not living being but just a symbol of evil.
2. Build Relationships with the Least over Information
According to research, we know few things about millennials
- Millennials are Family Focused.
- Millennials are Looking for Guidance.
- Millennials know few boundaries in Communication.
How do we know what really is important in their lives? Statistics prove.
- Family 61%
- Friends 25%
- Education 17%
- Career / Job 16%
- Spouse / Partner 13%
- Spiritual matters 13%
- Finances 12%
- Happiness 12%
- Raising kids 11%
- Health 10%
The top two list (family & friends), have to do with relationship over information. They are seeking a face-to-face time over face-book sort of surface level relationship. Millennials want church leader to drop their religious mask off.
Millennials seek a mentoring sort of relationship as they are seeking to grow and learn. Use these opportunities to your advantage!
3. Begin a Journey with the Last over a Destination
In order to really abide in Jesus, we need one another. Millennials want a lifelong friendship, rather than number to checked off. The gospel flows best through the establishing of significant relationship that is authentic and healthy.
I believe this is the biggest miss we have had as a church. I was in fact in a recent conversation with a young man who said, “I don’t know how you see it, but our church exists for just evangelism.” This young man missed big time with the Great Commission.
We must present the gospel to people, challenging them to a relationship with the Creator of the universe, NOT to just join a church and accept the rules of Christianity.
If the church simply exists then, baptism is the finished line, rather than the starting line. Many have lowered the bar which leads to the current state of the church.
Millennials are turned off by a checklist. Discipleship is not a destination, but a direction. Life on life journey together on the discipleship pathway through the relational environment is what millennials long for.
4. Create Relevancy with the Lost over Achievement
I’ve heard recently, “I just wish the church would stick with Jesus and the Bible and forget about relevancy.” Yes, churches have drifted at times and lead to corruption in few churches.
The apostle Paul said, “To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law.” (1 Cor. 9:20).
In the church’s missionary endeavor, context is crucial. For example, there is a reason なんで日本語でI’m not conversing. Speaking in Japanese will be out of context, it’s not wrong to speak, yet it’s not right. There is a reason why I don’t preach Sunday morning from the pulpit in PJs.
When we turn to the NT, unlike the NT scholars, OT was written in Hebrew and NT is written in Greek. Now, during the 2nd Temple-Judaism period, the Judea Christians could have said, “We will do as we’ve always done. We will write the NT in Hebrew.” But that would have been ineffective to fulfill Acts 1:8 and carry the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). As historically we know, during this time was the Hellenistic period (Alexander the Great) and made Koine Greek the common language. In order to fulfill this, they needed to change for the sake of the love for their neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40).
Hudson Taylor founder of CIA (Today known as OMF) wanted to take, as the organization originally was called, “China Inland Mission” to take it to where missionaries haven’t reached yet. Hudson Taylor famously dressed as Chinese people would in order to reach more effectively. He exegeted the culture however he was a laughing stock by other as he took an “Unorthodoxy Praxis.” Today, he is known as one of the greatest missionaries ever existed.
Therefore, the certain context for specific programs is appropriate to have such as woman’s ministry or men’s. It is beneficial to provide a safe environment for youth ministry for adolescents and speak on puberty & pornography.
Now, cultural relevance should never be the primary function of a church. Every church ought to first seek to be relevant to the truth claims of the gospel and faithfully make disciples.
Missional Living in Transformational Work of Jesus
Millennials are important to God, therefore ought to be important to the church.
Life is too short to be disappointed on things. One day our life will flash before our eyes, let’s make sure it’s worth watching. Let’s not live a life that we will one day regret.
I will close with the words of David Platt as he said the following statement,
“We e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and text with people who are going to spend eternity either in heaven or hell. Our lives are too short to waste on mere temporal conversations when massive eternal realities hang in the balance. Just as you and I have no guarantee that we will love through the day, the people around us are not guaranteed tomorrow either. So, let’s be intentional about sewing the threads of the gospel into the fabric of our conversations every day, knowing that it will not always be easy, yet believing that eternity will always be worth it.”
Thom S. Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, unknown edition (Nashville, Tenn: B&H Books, 2011).
David Platt and Francis Chan, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live., a edition (Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2013).