4 Captivating Ways to Reach a Younger Audience

Finding ways to captivate the attention of an audience can be a challenging ordeal.

Preaching to Millennials

Some preachers like to use flashy sermon titles and a dramatic delivery. Others prefer a more subdued delivery to accompany their cerebral content.

Whatever style you prefer, here are a few things you can integrate into your sermon to help you captivate a younger audience.

1. Be Vulnerable

You don’t have to be wimpy or whiny, but let them see your struggles. Let them know that you aren’t Superman. This is a difficult line for most preachers to walk, because being vulnerable can be dangerous.

And rightly so.

There are some struggles that should not be aired publicly, but don’t make the mistake of over-correcting.

If you are never vulnerable, then you are building walls of protection around yourself rather than allowing God to protect you, and if you present yourself as a superman, you miss the opportunity to point them to Christ instead of yourself.

2. Address Felt Needs

Millennials don’t have as much patience for fluff as did previous generations. Sure. Everyone likes a good story. And yes. “Deep Theology” is vitally important to the life of the church, but don’t neglect to address their every day struggles.

For instance, my personal conviction is that expository preaching is by far the best form of preaching. However, the majority of my congregation consists of college students and twenty-somethings who were raised and conditioned to respond to topical preaching. That’s why I’m currently doing a topical series on Relationships. My congregation has very specific felt needs that require creativity in the sermons.

But really, doesn’t every church have felt needs that need to be addressed creatively?

3. Explain the Why

Let’s take a popular truth from scripture…“God hates divorce?”

Previous generations were happy to accept this statement as true and move forward, but Millennials aren’t satisfied. And why should they be satisfied? Former generations, who claim to agree with this biblical truth that God hates divorce, have denied this truth with their lifestyles! Millennials want to know the “why”, so give it to them!

God hates divorce because it assaults his character. God is one. He created husband and wife to be one, and He created marriage to teach us about himself. So when a separation occurs in a marriage, it is paints an inaccurate picture of who God is. God is by nature redemptive, so when divorce happens, it contradicts His nature.

Spelling it out is more necessary than ever before, and when you take the time to break it down, not only will you captivate your audience, you will also learn a great deal more about who God is and how He relates to us.

4. Give them a Meaningful Way to Obey Scripture

For many years, I believed that practical application in sermons was wrong. I believed that giving people workable ways to exercise the truth of Scripture was a bad idea, because it put me in the place of playing Holy Spirit.

I no longer believe this way.

I believe that people need help connecting the dots. Not everyone needs help. Some need help more than others, but everyone needs a little push in the right direction. I have also learned that others will connect the dots differently than I do, so it’s important to draw conclusions that will help people take action.

When I finally came to the realization that the goal of Scripture is not information, but transformation, then I realized that providing detailed life application is giving people the tools they need to walk in obedience and allow God to transform their lives.

Summary

Capturing the attention of younger audiences can be difficult, but being vulnerable, addressing felt needs, explaining the why, and giving them a meaningful way to obey Scripture are four captivating ways to reach a younger audience?

Question: Which of these points do you most agree with? Are any of the points listed here areas in which you need to grow?

  • Jody Harmon Lee

    Great article Daniel. My only comment (or rather question) is when do you get to doctrine? Do you weave them in with your topical study? I know what you mean about the older generation taking things at face value and forgetting to ask why. I was one of those. And just Sunday morning I was researching a verse for a lesson I was teaching for fifth and sixth graders on an easy doctrine and, you wouldn’t believe it, but I can’t find any specific Scriptures that teach that doctrine! So here I am, spending the next week or two studying this subject and seeing what the “truth” is before I open my mouth about it again! I want to know “why” too so I can teach the younger ones better. Thank you again.

    • Daniel Carpenter

      Great question, Jody!

      First, I want to clarify something. I never intended to communicate that previous generations were mindless drones who accepted whatever they were told. I know that’s not what you said, but I just wanted to be clear about that. My main point in that section of the post was to highlight the cynicism toward Christian teachings that is so pervasive among the younger generations.

      Now. To answer your question. I am a teacher at heart, so I believe in weaving doctrine into everything that I do. I teach it in sermons, in meetings, and even in casual conversations! Every week I get questions about doctrine. Questions that were largely left unanswered by the pastors and families who led them during their formative years.

      Lastly, I applaud you for doing your research. Teaching deep truths and doctrines can be difficult to articulate at any level, but taking deep truths and explaining them in such a way that a 5th grader can understand is a whole other challenge! You have my respect!