Thursday, August 29, 2013

Millennials and the Church, Part 6

Part 6:  Ministry Implications In Discipling Millennials, cont'd

Theories differ on how one arrives at a fully discipled church.  Lecturer Pastor Rick Howerton stated in the presentation, “Building an Intergenerational Church Through Small Groups” at a Campbellsville University Intergenerational Ministry conference held in Louisville on May 7th that intergenerational small groups are the key to the next generation connecting with a local church (Howeton, 2013).  Intergenerational groups eliminate ministry divisions that exist with current ministry models, and this model lends itself to a unified and relational disciple-making experience.  However, Mercadante expresses the cautionary sentiment held by many pastors and experts, “It would be a mistake to take this observation to an extreme by slashing all youth gatherings and only offering intergenerational activities. Young people want and need to be gathered with one another. It’s not about switching out the youth ministry menu as much as expanding it by adding some intergenerational variety (Mercadante, 2008, p.7).

The powerful influence that Christian Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have on their Millennial offspring should give Christians hope for the future even though most Millennials do not attend church or feel church is relevant. That is because a vast majority look to their parents as their primary source for guidance and advice, as stated previously nearly ninety percent.  Moreover, Rainer states, “Millennials whose parents demonstrated some fervency in their Christian faith are likely to become even more fervent…These Millennials will likely be few in number but may very will demonstrate the greatest Christian commitment of any generation in America’s history.”

Christian mentoring might also be an answer to retaining Millennials in the church long enough to disciple them.  More than 40 percent of adult Millennials currently have a mentor in their lives (Rainer, p. 41).  They are teachable and willing to learn.  Churches could pair Millennials with Baby Boomers since these generations are more politically aligned or  their peers more mature in the faith.  Mentors should be technologically savvy and easily accessible.

Finally, churches will need to realize that effective discipleship strategies to Millennials will likely yield more diverse congregations.  Findings from the Rainer research revealed that approximately 70 percent of Millennials acknowledged a friendship with someone of a different ethnic or racial background (p. 86); 70 percent say they have friends of different religious beliefs (p. 87); and a higher number, 80 percent said their circle of friends included people with different “lifestyles,” although the term was not specifically defined (ibid).  The implication is that church leaders must receive diversity training since the 11:00 am hour on Sunday morning has historically been known as the most segregated hour of the week.   Mark Deymaz states in the book, Building A Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church, Mandate, Commitments, and Practices of A Diverse Congregation, “The good health of any church, then, is established by leaders who have an objective view of themselves – of who they are, who they are not, and who they desire to become…Therefore, local church leaders must become again the learners if, in fact, we are to succeed in establishing diverse congregations of faith” ( (Deymaz, 2007, p. 98).

Excerpts from my research paper, The Millennials, will be posted August 26th-31st as a seven-part series. This paper was written in partial fulfillment of course work for the Masters of Theology program at Campbellsville University, June 2013. All rights reserved.

Remember, it is not Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, nor New Age that saves. Jesus Saves!  Jesus Saves Ministries Celebrating 8 Years of Lifting Up Jesus Christ!



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