How do we disciple millennials? This is the second part of our 2 part series dedicated to answering this question. Millennials have much to offer the kingdom of God, but just like all of us, they need discipleship. In Part 2, I give 4 more tips to help church leaders and other Christians as they attempt to disciple the millennial generation. Make sure to check out Part 1.
8 Tips for Discipling Millennials (Continued)
5. Empower millennials to make a difference in their local community and around the world.
Millennials want to change the world.
Millennials are the generation of protests. It’s not because they don’t respect authority. It’s because they want to see change. They desire for the world to be more just, more kind, more loving, more inclusive. (It sort of sounds a lot like Jesus.) Millennials want to change the world. A primary strategy for discipleship in previous generations has been to get a Christian plugged into some kind of volunteer ministry within their local church. That’s still an important tool. But we must also give them opportunities to make a difference in their local community and around the world and then celebrate when they do that. As a group, many Christian millennials aren’t nearly as interested in building a great church for Jesus as they are building a great community for Jesus. We must empower millennials with the training, knowledge, and resources they need to build the kingdom of God as they live their daily lives outside the context of their local church. We have a generation of young Christian who want to make a difference. Let’s empower them and release them to go do it.
6. Help millennials to see who Jesus is by modeling Christ-centered discipleship.
Millennials have a desire to understand Jesus better.
If you follow any church leadership blogs, you might be a little depressed. Much has been written about the future of the local church, and sometimes they paint a bleak picture. We know that Jesus promised to build his Church, and despite any challenges that churches face right now, I firmly believe the future is bright for the local church. At the same time, it is true that many millennials just aren’t interested in attending church. That can be changed, but the truth is that even though some aren’t interested in what they view as an organizational structure called the church, many are very interested in Jesus. They are interested in learning more about him. The greatest thing we can do in any discipleship relationship is to help another person to see Jesus better. As millennials learn a true biblical picture of Jesus and then begin to better understand his love for him, they can’t help but fall more in love with Jesus. And that’s discipleship. As much as anything else, making disciples is helping people to love Jesus more. If a millennial you are trying to reach is not as interested in church as you would
hope, perhaps they will be more interested in Jesus. Help them to see what a Christ centered life looks like, and I believe they will also begin to grow in their love for Jesus’ people.
7. Invite single millennials to be a part of your daily life and model for them what it means to follow Jesus.
Millennials are likely to stay single for a longer period of time.
I mentioned earlier that I grew up in the Christian culture of the 1990’s. That culture practically demanded all young people who loved Jesus to get married. If you didn’t marry, people thought something was wrong with you. Check this out…I got married at the age of 19! And if that’s not crazy enough, nobody ever suggested to me that getting married that young might not be a great idea. I was pretty mature for a teenager and was serving as a youth pastor at that time. I probably wasn’t the typical Christian teen, but still…19 is pretty young. Things worked out well for me and I think my wife is still relatively happy with her decision, but I bet you know of people that got married young and things didn’t work out so well.
Instead of placing older cultural expectations on millennials and suggesting that they must marry, allow them to grow in their relationship with Christ and become a genuine disciple of Jesus as a single person. You probably know that recent generations are postponing marriage, and millennials are following the same trend. Instead of expecting them to marry in order to have the life God intended or pressuring them to follow your specific path regarding marriage and children, help millennials see that they don’t need to get married before they can become a mature follower of Jesus or make a difference in our world. Invite them to be a part of your life. Model for them now what it looks like for someone that loves Jesus to live a life dedicated to him.
8. Help millennials learn how to incorporate solitude in their spiritual journey.
Millennials are surrounded by constant interaction with the world around them through texting and social media.
Depending on who you believe, we each see somewhere around 5,000 various advertisements a day. Millennials might follow hundreds or even thousands of people on social media. In addition, they might send and receive several dozen text messages each day. Add to that the mental fatigue that can occur from extended time playing video games. It all can be overwhelming. One of the things we often value in American culture is work, and work definitely has value. But Christians often forget the importance of Sabbath. Millennials can often have their mind engaged constantly. It’s important to teach them to grow in the discipline of solitude. Our desire for relationships can drive us to seek constant interaction. We seek noise and crowds. Jesus spent plenty of time with the crowds, but he also teaches us by his example of the importance of solitude. Part of discipling millennials should likely include examples and practical instruction on how to be silent. What does a quiet time look like? How can reading, prayer, and journaling help me to grow as a disciple of Jesus? What does
thoughtful reflection look like? How can I be alone without being lonely? These are questions that our discipleship of millennials should seek to answer.
I hope this blog series has given you some practical suggestions for discipling millennials and perhaps some things to think through regarding your own discipleship methods. Are we focusing on making disciples that look like we looked when we were in our teens to mid-30’s? Or are we making disciples that look like Jesus? It’s okay for millennials to grow in their own way and at their own pace. Each previous generation did the same thing.
You gotta love millennials!
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