I am a baby boomer who is continually fascinated with how the millennials think and live. My opportunity at Clearwater Christian College gives me plenty of access to these great people. As I live among them and read about them I am challenged and encouraged. They are a special generation with lots of potential.
Let me preface my comments with an acknowledgement of the sources that have distinctively framed my thinking. First, there is a paper entitled “Millennials: Understanding and Discipling Them” that Dr. Jim Newcomer presented to the Virginia Beach Theological Seminary faculty back in 2008. This was, and continues to be, a great synthesis of the topic. Second, is the book As You Go: Creating A Missional Culture of Gospel-Centered Students by Dr. Alvin Reid. Finally, is David Kinnaman’s book, You Lost Me: Why Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith.
Over the past 20 months, during my time at Clearwater Christian College, I have been working to shape college life and operations by means of the gospel-centrality theme. I think in terms of speaking the gospel into every routine of life. I think about the gospel winning. I think about how the gospel can transform and shape attitudes, actions, and conversation. So, in this post I am thinking about how to be gospel-centered in my relationships and opportunities with the millennials. I have much to learn, but I do write hoping that the following will be a help to you.
First, I have discovered that the millennials have a love for community that creates fruitful opportunities for discipleship and mentoring. They definitely enjoy being together and they are more than willing to be with an older generation that will invest in them. One writer captured this opportunity with the phrase “hand craft disciples.” His point is that God never grows two people in the same way so don’t think of mentoring in a “one-size fits all” mentality. Instead, work with each individual in such a way as to capture his or her imagination with the power of the gospel.
2. Their desire to be active learners and participants makes them excellent candidates for great commission activity. Go with them, take them with you, work together with them to advance the gospel in as many venues of life as possible.
3. Their curiosity about the “whys” provides an opportunity to train them to think theologically.
4. Their willingness to engage the world and culture affords the opportunity to help them to be wise, biblically faithful, and adept in interpreting the challenging issues of the day.
5. The Millennials are definitely challenging me to lay aside pat, evasive answers, to become a better listener, and to think more deliberately about how the gospel truly impacts every aspect of life. I was challenged with a statement made by Walt Mueller in You Lost Me. When addressing the issues of media he writes, “If the gospel is truly transformative for all life, which areas of my life have I kept sheltered from its truth?” He then encourages his readers to learn to recognize worldview elements, evaluate them in light of God’s Word, and then make media choices that bring honor and glory to God. I think that Mueller’s statement is a wonderful diagnostic question for every area of life.
In addition to this post, I want to offer you another opportunity to listen to our podcast on this topic. Joining me in the podcast are four pastors who have spoken and who are speaking the gospel to the Millennials with fruitful results. Pastor Jim Newcomer from Colonial Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, VA, begins with a great overview of this generation. He sees them as a generation demanding integrity, having a community focus, a drive for leisure, and who operate with a duty of transaction. Next you will hear Mitch Kuhn from Skycrest Baptist Church in Clearwater, FL, Jason Bruns from Lakeside Community Chapel in Clearwater, FL, and Paul Campbell from Colonial Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA.\