As a millennial pastor or even just as a millennial Christian, I get asked all the time, “Hey Joe, how do we reach young people.” Now some people mean 40s and 50s when they say “young people,” but most mean millennials and by extension the children of millennials.
What I always try to get across is there is no magic bullet to reach millennials. I mean, think about it: Baby boomers are not all the same, the greatest generation is not all the same. Generations, while they can be useful to track shared values and trends, do not speak for every person who exists in this generation.
So this is not an article on “how to reach millennials”; instead it is simply things the generation needs from you as a pastor or church leader.
But, first: Here is something millennials do not need from churches and pastors: condescension. So many times I am in conversations with pastors and church leaders talking about my generation and it is all negative, all destructive, all divisive. This is not what the body of Christ needs—generational divide. Let us be better. Here are six things millennials need from church leaders:
This is obvious, but so often I see people so intimidated by the prospect of reaching this generation that all they want to talk about is methods and programs. The millennial generation—just like every other generation—needs the Gospel, needs the saving power of Jesus, needs the ultimate perfect love of our God.
It has been said many times and many ways, but millennials reject the false facades the church has thrown up in the past and continues to entrench itself in. Pastor: What millennials need from you is a transparent heart. How are you modeling true transparency in your leadership and preaching?
Do not fake it. Whether in your worship, your preaching, your faith. Reject a happy go lucky 100 percent of the time mentality that plagues a lot of modern church culture. Instead model true joy, model worthwhile lament, model growth through doubt. Model that Christians are not happy all the time with perfect lives and attitudes.
Millennials are a passionate generation. Are you sharing your passion with them? Are you sharing your passion for Jesus? For the lost? Your passion for the poor and hungry? For the disadvantaged? Millennials need and want to see your passion, pastor.
I cannot even count the churches I’ve known or know of who have given up on the millennial generation. You must exude some effort because millennials are very hard to please. Are you offering ways for them to take a next step? How about offering ways for them to connect? Are you offering ways for them to change the world?
Pastor: Are you loving the millennials in your life? How about those in your community? If not, take the radical step and show love today.
There is no special sauce to reach millennials, pastor, but you can make a difference in the lives of millennials just like any other generation.