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Millennials Don't Have to Be a Lost Generation: Three Ideas

At the conclusion of his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman offers 50 ideas to find the lost Millennial Generation. The ideas come from Christian leaders—some well-known and some unfamiliar—trying to inspire people to move from thinking and talking to doing and changing. 

What’s unique about the list is that Kinnaman himself doesn’t agree with all of the ideas. (And you may not either.) But he intentionally includes them because he believes we don’t have to agree on every approach in order to fulfill God’s mission.

Here are just three of the 10 ideas for pastors, church leaders and Christian organizations. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire (or incite) you to look at your approach in reaching Millennials:

  1. Be Intentionally Intergenerational. While there are indeed times when it makes sense to segment large bodies of people by age groups, Kara Powell—executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and co-author of Sticky Faith—believes we lean too hard this way within the church. In her research, she’s seen that when younger generations are intentionally included and expected to engage in church activities, the stronger their faith becomes. She suggests examining your church programs to see if you can better mix and mingle older generations with younger generations. Some examples she suggests range from “short-term service to hobby mentoring (e.g., cooking, gardening, art) to intentional small groups.”
  2. Tell On Yourself. We know that many of the struggles we face as believers are the same that nonbelievers confront. But, as Gary Kinnaman—a pastor in Gilbert, Arizona—suggests, that’s not always the image we convey to others. Instead, we try to look neat and put together. But as You Lost Me research indicates, Millennials know better than that. They’ve seen the conflict between the image and the reality, and they’ve grown weary of it. We need to start being honest with one another. We need to tear down our façades. Gary says we need to to tell on ourselves like we see in the Psalms and Paul’s letters. “Let people know what’s causing you pain, what makes you angry, what’s difficult for you to overcome in your life—and how God and your closest friends are helping you deal with it.”
  3. Meet a Need. Look outside your church and into your surrounding neighborhoods. To Millennials, your community isn’t made up of new members and financial donors. It’s an opportunity to serve and minister to the people. Seek out tangible opportunities to create tangible change in your community (i.e. cleaning vacant lots, repairing homes, providing food, etc.) as an opportunity to serve and minister to the people. Shane Claiborne—author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, and founder of The Simple Way—describes how his church created a flag football game to engage with the fatherless youths in their area. Today, it’s a flag-football league that serves nearly 200 kids and allows the men in his church to witness thru mentorship.

What things are YOU doing to find the Millennial Generation in and around our church? What CAN you be doing? Share your ideas in the comments section below.