The Difficulty of Reaching Millennials.
It seems every week there is an article on a Christian news website describing the difficulties of reaching millennials. There are lots of theories as to why they are so difficult to reach. Writers, pastors, and laymen, theorize what makes this young generation so skeptical of Christianity. Millenials have proven themselves to be difficult to reach. A lot of the focus thus far has been placed on the youth churches are attempting to reach; I’ve heard things such as, “they live on Facebook,” or “they just don’t care.” It seems a great deal of the burden on reaching this generation is placed on the ones to be reached, the millennial’s, while those supposed to be reaching out to them are apathetic.Instead of focusing on what is perceived as being wrong with this generation we should all focus on what is right. Today, young men and women are more intellectual; they are ready to hear good reasons for believing in Jesus as the Son of God, but on the whole the Church has a poor track record in apologetics, though this is slowly headed in the right direction. Most Christians today haven’t rationed out their faith–the haven’t tested what they believe, and this has led to the following generation (millennials) to be skeptical. When millennials ask questions a great deal of the time they are given shallow superficial and cliche answers from poorly trained leaders. To counter this trend the Church as a whole needs to stop being lazy from the bottom up. Again, laymen these days on the whole do not understand basic Christian doctrines and this makes spreading the Gospel difficult. Imagine a salesperson going door to door attempting to sell this revolutionary product that would change everyone’s lives forever. Would this salesperson sell any product if he or she did not know the manual? Would this person sell their product if they couldn’t explain how it would revolutionize ones life? Surely they wouldn’t sell any product, at least not to a careful customer. Essentially that is who the millennials are, careful customers.
How do we reach these careful customers? First, it starts with us all as individual believers in Christ. We must study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). If we are to reach this generation; we have to be great salespeople; we need to know the manual and the reasons for the product. However we mustn’t be used car salesmen; we need to know as much as possible about what we are preaching to this generation.
Information is available like never before and if we are trying to swindle people into the faith by only giving them kernels of truth and coconuts of falsities then this generation will reject the faith we attempted to swindle them into. Make no mistake, I am not saying the faith is incorrect; however, I am saying to a large part our methodology is. We should not be afraid of making mistakes, but we should fear what the result might be if we never try.
A great deal of the problem in reaching millennials is their home environment. I know from my childhood my parents hardly ever talked about faith in Christ, and almost never read the Bible. A great deal of my coming to Christ was from the influence of my Uncle Paul, who did for me the very things my parents would not. Today I suspect that few households regularly get into the Word together and this puts all the burden of teaching to the Church. A little bit of teaching on Sunday and maybe Wednesday is not sufficient; more needs to be done at home by the parents and their children. If we are to help this generation to come into saving knowledge of Christ, then we had better get busy. Parents teach your children what you know and what you don’t know, study, and then teach it to them. We all need to log off of Facebook and get into His book, and click share.
Another problem is that the Church has become an auditorium waiting to be filled, rather than a group of people evangelizing. We treat Sunday services like football games; the people that come are the ones that want to see the game (sermon). Instead, we need to actually evangelize. Jesus and the Apostles did not sit around and wait for seekers to find them, they went into the synagogues, gathering centers, towns, and villages and proclaimed the Gospel. Why are we so afraid of offending people; I would rather offend someone by telling them the truth than to never utter a word and watch them die the second death.
All is not wrong with the Church or believers though. On the whole the Church body is very connected, whereas millennials are very socially distant. Millennials express themselves through social media and interact on a personal level lesser than previous generations and this has led to a disconnect. A lot of times no one knows how to approach the millennials because they seem more introvert than previous generations, this trend will probably increase as time moves forward and more kids are socially entrenched in their smartphones.
The bottom line to all of these challenges to reaching millennials can be easily summed up as follows:
1. Quit making excuses for not studying the Word, also study some good apologetics resources.
2. Become a good salesperson, but not a dishonest one.
3. Be genuine.
4. Go where they are; do not wait on them to come to you.
It is my belief if we do the above then we will be in great shape to reach this generation. However, if we do nothing we will lose this generation and many following.