There is no magic to reaching the Millennial generation. On the other hand, if we hope to get them, we simply need to do and be what God’s word has called us to be about all along.
Sometimes working with Millennials is about as frustrating as trying to use Jello as a baseball. The truth is they are not just a gift to your church. They are even the strongest booster rocket you can desire.
They call us to think through what we want to see. As you look this over realize a couple of matters. These are descriptions of the sorts of churches that Millennials will consider joining.
As you read these over, resist the trap of “Cognitive dissonance” – that is, the tendency to assume the best about what we are doing, even when our image is far from reality. This confusion is more prevalent in the church world than any other.
When we begin to make changes those already in our church usually resist – even to the point of threatening to leave or even worse, to stir up others to leave because all of the sudden “My” church has changed to a different direction.
1. Be Generous with Money
In the eyes of many Millennials, the church seems to exist mainly to for self-perpetuation. More than their predecessors, they live out the line “Put your money where your mouth is.”
To reshape that assumption, let’s be known for our extravagant generosity. Let’s even go so far as to be willing to nearly “Squander” money on the world around us. All hyperbole aside, let’s drop any caution and now define ourselves as incredibly giving without being overly concerned with that self-interest mindset.
The Orthodox Jewish Bible uses the word “Generous” to describe one of the marks of the fruit of the Spirit in Ephesians chapter 5. When we show generosity, we establish credibility. As we go into the community to give away bottles of water at a stoplight, sometimes people ask how we can afford to pay for all of this.
“Oh, we pay for it out of our offerings. We can’t help but spend a lot of money in our community to bring the same love that Jesus showed in his day.”
“But how do you cover all the expenses your church needs if you give so much away?”
“We see the city is worth investing in – worth showing love by serving. We believe that if Jesus were walking around town today, he’d being doing this sort of thing.”
Meeting the Needs in the Moment
As we loosen our grip on funds, our reputation as a giving church will begin to spread like a life-giving tsunami. As it was with Jesus, when we get into the community “Advertising” will take care of bringing all the attention we need to notice and experience God’s tsunami, his love, attention, and acceptance, they will start to “Gossip the Gospel.”
When we start to flow with God’s generosity, we are merely opening the door for our people to do what has already been in their hearts.
When it comes to outreach to the needy, pantries are good, but don’t let that be the limit of your outreach. Sometimes those with the greatest needs can’t get to any pantry without a lot of difficulties. Jesus reached out to the poor in a variety of ways. The most common way Jesus reached out was to meet needs as he ran across them.
Invest a given percentage of the congregation’s income back out into the community. A smart way to begin is to commit to percentage giving. If you already have required portions, you are expected to pay – tithes to the denomination, the denomination’s requirement to foreign missions, etc. You can negotiate those percentages.