• Millennials are delaying adulthood (i.e. still living off their parents, waiting to get married, haphazard in their careers)
• Millennials are frivolous and poor money managers
• Millennials want to lead but don't want to be led
• Millennials only want to be rewarded for "showing up"
• Millennials are far too dependent on their feelings and emotions
• Millennials are less interested and less involved in religious activities such as church attendance
Older generations in particular are finding it increasingly hard to understand Millennials and are deeply concerned about the overall direction this generation may take our culture in the future. Specifically, older generations in the church are concerned that Millennials lack the spiritual fortitude and personal commitment to effectively advance the gospel in a world that seems to be quickly slipping down a steep moral slope.
At the same time, more and more young adults are keeping religious participation at arm's length to varying degrees. Many have lost faith in religious institutions and leaders. Many Millennials had negative experiences growing up in church or they are turned off by the regular reports of impropriety within churches and amongst church leaders. In short, "church" does not always pass the authenticity test.
But I believe there is hope and that a unique opportunity is presenting itself today in the body of Christ. I believe one of the most effective ways the church can connect with Millennials is through the cultivation of relationships between the generations. The Scripture speaks to the importance of faith being passed down from one generation to the next (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Psalm 145:4-7), and for Christians to cultivate a faith worth imitating so they can teach that faith to other younger believers (Philippians 3:12-21; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:1-8).
Older, spiritually mature adults can and should play an important role in the spiritual formation of younger adults. Younger adults should be availing themselves to building relationships with believers whose long paths of faithfulness to Christ have shaped who they are and how they have lived their lives. We can learn from each other and we can grow together.
If are you are an older, mature believer in Christ you may be skeptical as to whether you have anything to offer a Millennial in your church or sphere of influence and you may be even more skeptical as to whether a Millennial would listen to what you might have to say. Please, don't be discouraged and remember these three things:
1 — Community — Millennials are far more likely to open up their lives to you in a mentoring/discipleship context when you are willing to share your life with them. Find out what your church is already doing to serve young adults and get involved. Be prepared to open up your life by being accessible, patient and generous with your time.
2 — Authority — The scripture instructs us to pass on our faith to others. As you open your life to a Millennial, be prepared to be investigated! They want to see if you will pass the authenticity test by matching what you say with how you live. You will be granted the authority to speak into their lives as a mentor and disciple-maker when they trust the credibility and vulnerability of your walk with Christ.
3 — Transformation — There is no greater joy than having a front-row seat for life change! This is the privilege that awaits a mature believer who is willing to walk with, talk with, listen to, pray with, struggle with, and celebrate with a Millennial. We want to be growing disciples who have the privilege of seeing others grow in Christ.
As believers, we must overcome generational stereotypes and surface-level misunderstandings of one another. It's simply insufficient to judge each other across generational divides. There is a biblical way forward and those of us who have the joy of knowing Christ and walking with Him for many years need to leverage the opportunity before us to take our faith and pass it on to a generation that is far more spiritually sensitive than we realize and that God wants to use for His glory!
Learn More about the Guest
Pastor Jonathan Teague, is the Minister to Married Adults at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. He has worked for 20 years in young adults ministry with various churches. Pastor Teague has a Bachelor's Degree in Speech Communication and Leadership from Hardin-Simmons University, and a Master's in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently completing his Doctorate in Educational Ministries there as well. Pastor Teague and his wife Michelle have been married for 16 years and have 4 children.