Ministry with millennials

March 13th, 2019

Pastors find ministry to millennials challenging as they see their congregations aging. The church seems to speak a language millennials rarely understand. However, when pastors discover ministry with millennials, new possibilities arise. Those who befriend young adults will discover that this generation knows loss and trauma intimately; they build alternative communities as they seek authenticity; they nurture their spirituality and appreciate accountability. Furthermore, millennials are changing the world as they seek the good life. Ministry with millennials—those “nones” we read about in studies on church membership decline—thus has a different look and feel compared to ministry to this complex generation. The latter ministry inevitably fails as young adults question and distrust institutions and their traditions.

Hopeful possibility comes from an unlikely source: the Book of Joel. The book opens with loss and grief. The prophet calls forth community. A gracious and compassionate God who pours out the Spirit over young and old promises restoration and accountability. The narrative ends with blessing and restored lives and landscapes as water flows from the Lord’s house to nurture dry valleys. The Book of Joel may be the most important Scripture for our time. Written after the destruction of the temple, Joel describes a life of faith beyond tradition and invites us to discover God anew and reimagine church.

What then would ministry with millennials look like? In short, it envisions joining young adults where they gather and are active in the world. This requires new leadership practices from pastors, such as practicing awareness to the pervasiveness of loss in the lives of teenagers and young adults. Practicing empathy will bring warmth into one’s relationships. When leaders join young adults, they can practice appreciation as many millennials change our communities and the world. When leaders practice participation, collaborating with millennials, one co-creates with young adults and God. Effective leaders who do ministry with millennials practice vision catching, resisting the urge to be a vision caster, a role that comes naturally to those in hierarchies of power. God is doing new things. They myopia of the church may not recognize it.

Order here:

The Millennial Narrative: Sharing a Good Life with the Next Generation brings the narrative of Joel and the lives and witness of millennials to pastoral leadership. Visit and discover ways to transform your leadership. Download six sermon outlines as you preach through the Book of Joel. Lead your congregation in a study of Joel as they personalize a powerful narrative (See The Millennial Narrative Participant Guide). Download the album “We will Remember: Songs inspired by the Book of Joel” (on iTunes and Spotify). Ask your music director to lead the congregation in songs complementing your sermons and the Bible study.

“I will repay you for the years that the cutting locust, the swarming locust, the hopping locust, and the devouring locust have eaten,” God says (Joel 2:25, CEB). This promise is for you and your ministry.

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