Thursday, May 5, 2016

What do we need to know about millennials?

Last week I talked about the challenge the church has today because for the first time in its history it has 5 generations represented. Every generation has their own persona with distinct attitudes about family life, gender roles, institutions, politics, lifestyles, and the future. The personas develop an adherence to certain fundamental notions and a world view that shapes the group’s direction from youth to old age.

We must never forget that a generation can allow plenty of individual exceptions; as Christians, we must recognize that each person is a unique creation of God, redeemed by Christ and gifted to serve. As a church, we should never lose sight of this but we must also remember that each generation will eventually die off. It is our responsibility to pass the baton of ministry to the next upcoming generation. The church is always one operation away from extinction- so to speak.

To reach the next upcoming generation, which would be the millennials (18 to 30 year olds), the church needs to ask and answer 5 key questions. Here are the first two:

Question 1: Is First Free relevant? Millennials are looking for authenticity. This is important because this group has a dim view of the church. They are skeptical of religion. When we portray God as a cosmic buddy, we lose them. (They have enough friends.)

When we tell them God will give them a better marriage and family, it’s white noise. (They are delaying marriage and kids or forgoing them all together.) When we tell them they’re special, we’re merely echoing what educators, parents, coaches, have told them their whole lives.

But when we present a ravishing vision of a loving and Holy God, it just might get their attention and capture their hearts as well. And it can’t be words only. They want reality T.V. Are you authentically living out the mission in your own life? Is it real to you?

Question 2: Is our church clear in our visual messaging? Millennials want to go in to church and experience the space without having to ask someone questions, especially if it’s their first time at church.

Is First Free signage clear? Do we create a welcoming space that isn’t confusing? Millennials want to be able to answer the questions ‘Where am I?’ ‘What’s expected of me?’ by looking for cues in their surroundings. Does the space communicate community or privacy? Millennials prefer community. Does it communicate casual or dignified? Millennials prefer casual. When a person walks into First Free, they decide in three seconds if they like the space or not. This should give us motivation to make sure every space tells a person what that space is used for and what they should do next. (I could give an argument for why we need to upgrade our foyer, but I won’t at this time.)

The next three questions will be in next week’s Freshly Bru’d. I hope you will read all of the Challenge blogs- part one (last week), part two (this week), and part three next week.


P.S. How does a child honor his parents? How does a teenager honor his parents? How does a young adult honor his parents? How do we as older adults honor our parents? Don’t miss this Sunday’s message on Mother’s Day at 9:15 or 11:00. If you are out of town, live stream is available! 

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