Engaging Millennials is essential to the future of the Church. Grab them now, or lose them forever.
It’s a task that can seem overwhelming to many churches and pastors, but the principles for reaching Millennials with your preaching are timeless and applying these principles can be a joyful experience if you’re willing to put in the work.
Pastors are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to engage younger generations with their sermons. And yet, in my experience, when pastors talk about reaching Millennials with their preaching, they generally think in terms of relevance (ie. walking, talking, dressing, and thinking like Millennials). They believe that by staying relevant, they will gain the opportunity to speak into the lives of these young believers.
But what if that assumption is wrong?
What if the solution is far simpler than bending over backwards to be relevant and further reaching than any “hip” sermon series?
Relevance is good, but it pales in comparison to these proven methods for reaching Millennials.
1. Know Your Stuff
Millennials. Are. Sharp. They were born into the information age, so their ability receive, decipher, and disseminate information is more advanced than that of any previous generation. They can tell when you are unprepared or when you are speaking about a topic you don’t really understand.
That puts a tremendous amount of responsibility on Pastors, who have been entrusted to communicate the Scriptures on a weekly basis. If you get it wrong, Millennials will have Googled the topic, researched it on Wikipedia, and tweeted the correct answer before the sermon is over.
Why are Millennials so interested in depth and accuracy in preaching? They are interested because they desperately desire truth. In addition to growing up in the information age, Millennials grew up in a society that fully embraced the ideologies of postmodernism.
From the earliest they can remember, they were taught that truth is relative and life is whatever you make it. However, in preaching, we affirm that Jesus is Truth. He is the very origin and essence of Truth, and without Him, there is no Truth.
That is why it is so critical to know your stuff when you are preaching. Millennials are so hungry for the right answers that if you get it wrong, they’ll assume you don’t have any answers, and they’ll leave in pursuit of truth.
So… know your stuff.
2. Speak to Their Hearts, Not Just Their Heads
As important as it is for preachers to engage the minds of Millennials, it’s more important to engage their hearts.
I remember listening to my previous pastor as he clearly articulated, “The goal of scripture is not information, but transformation.” Truer words have never been spoken.
You could preach the most informative, doctrinally correct sermon they’ve ever heard, but if you don’t connect the dots for them and penetrate their hearts with the word, the best you can hope for is a group of well-educated listeners.
When preparing messages, historical information is great, background information helps, knowledge of the original languages will add depth and clarity (or confusion), but none of these make any difference or hold any eternal significance if your listeners hearts are not changed.
Speak to their hearts, not just their heads.
3. Break Bread With Them
The key is credibility. For previous generations, a pastor’s credibility could often hinge on his experience, his education, or his denominational loyalty. And yet, Millennials seem to care very little about these things.
Yes. Millennials desire truth. And yes. Millennials desire an emotional, heart-felt sermon. But more than either of those things, Millennials desire to know their Spiritual Leader. They don’t care what school he went to or what eschatological position he holds. They just want to know that he is a good man, and they want to spend time with him.
So break bread with them. Invite them into your home or go out. Preach your sermons at the dinner table before and after you deliver them in the Worship Service. Be curious about their lives, and allow them to be curious about yours. This is by far the best way to earn credibility with Millennials.
Ministry is done by the people who show up…So show up and break bread with them!
This post discussed three proven ways to engage Millennials with your preaching.
First, know your stuff, and be ready to answer the hard questions. You will gain tremendous brownie points for being prepared.
Second, speak to their hearts, not just their heads. The goal is not a well-educated congregation. Rather, the goal is a church that is fully devoted to Christ because the Word of God has transformed their hearts.
And lastly, break bread with them. Building Credibility with Millennials means spending time with them.
Which of these points do you agree with most? Are there any with which you disagree? Please comment below.