No, I am certainly not a “twenty-something”, but I know those who are! I want to introduce you to the author of this blog post, Jacki C. King Jacki first wrote this for the Southern Baptists of Texas Women’s Ministry and has given us permission to re-post it. Jacki King is just a normal 20 something trying to live each moment for Jesus. She has been working and ministering to young women and teen girls for the past 7 years as she teaches how such an ancient "book" changes the hearts and life of a modern millennial. Her passion is to see the millennial generation seek after the One true God and to help those of older generations to come along side to live, learn, and do life together.
I think you will learn a lot as a leader as you read this young woman’s thoughts:
How do we reach 20 something’s? That seems to be a question that church leadership is asking regardless of church type or location. In this article I will simply ask some questions more than I will answer them. As I’m sitting here as a 24 year old, just thinking and reflecting on my own church experience along with those I call friends and acquaintances. In a way I would just like for you to pour a cup of coffee, sit back, and talk with me for a few minutes on what it looks like to reach my peers, friends, and ultimately the millennial generation.
Most can look at the millennial generation and see it as nothing more than a group of “kids” with holes in their jeans and ibuds in their ears, but behind the different kind of clothing and music genres are women who have lives and experiences just like you. Not all twenty somethings have the same story but theirs are not much different than yours. I know several twenty-somethings that have experienced the overwhelming grief in the loss of a parent, the divided heart and pain of a shattered fairy tale marriage gone wrong, the emotional, physical, and spiritual scars of life. These scars leave them searching for acceptance and community and answers. These scars leave them searching for acceptance and community and answers. Within that community they find their answers. So the question is; are we fostering an environment where older women and younger women are able to converse about what we believe in Jesus. This is where the church comes in. Are we willing to be that place that they are accepted with all their baggage? Majority of the statistics on 20 somethings and their view of church show that the church overall is judgmental and unwilling to meet people where they are. Young adults are more than willing to listen, but no one is engaging them to tell them. This is a hard one to swallow because if first asks you to do an inventory on your own attitudes and feelings toward millennials, and then challenges your willingness to face them head on with the Gospel.
Have you heard the phrase “Doing life together?” It is a common and hip phrase used these days, but many don’t understand the meaning or action behind it. You are the church. You have been commanded to reach the lost and care for those that are wounded and hurting. There is a generation that is watching you to see what your response will be. It’s as simple as a phone call to see how they are doing. Or, offering your washer and dryer to a college student so they can do their laundry without having to wait at the Laundromat at school. It’s coming along side them with a crying baby in their arms and giving them a break. It is showing your flaws and life experiences and loving one another as broken and redeemed people. All in all, I challenge you to recognize that you are needed. You have love, experience, and ultimately Jesus to share.
Once we have them here – then what? Many times faith communities will, with good intentions, go out of their way to create some event or program to ‘attract’ a certain demographic. They do so without ever asking the question ‘what will we do if this works?’ Do you have community groups (Sunday School, LifeGroups, Nieghborhood Groups) that are built to relate to young adults and answer the questions they are asking? Do you have people committed to listening to young adults and extend the Gospel message to them, like you would for children, youth and senior adults? Are you ready for them to have a different opinion on how things may need to look or feel? All of these are questions that may need to be answered before you start ordering the new Bible study set and sending out the mass mailers.
It really is simple. If you care and foster relationships with 20 somethings and genuinely accept them and help them in their walk to becoming more like Jesus, you are doing more than reaching 20 somethings you are growing 20 somethings. So where do you start? Maybe instead of enrolling in the next DVD Bible study you walk up to that young mom or college student at church and asking them how they are doing, and really listening to their response. You fight the awkward feelings of insecurity and being uncomfortable and learn and take on life together. Don’t worry about not having all the answers or looking as cool and trendy as Beth Moore and just love them. That sounds simple I know, but that’s the point. You’re reading this on your computer screen, cup of coffee in hand, and an empty chair across from you. Who will fill it?
For further reading on twenty somethings and reaching them check out Lost and Found: The Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them by Ed Stetzer.