Lately, I’ve read a lot about how Millennials and Gen Z are not satisfied with the church. Many older people lament what they believe are self-centered young people simply looking to be catered to. I, on the other hand, don’t think that is the case.
Having the privilege to work with college students gives me an insight into their lives. They have grown up in a world completely different than anything before, and two things are certain about them – they want a lot out of life, and they want the church to matter.
Justin Lathrop wrote a blog that I thought was very insightful. He highlighted four ideas about young people that I believe all ministry leaders should hear.
Here they are:
First, young people want realism about the state of the world. If I'm honest, I believe young people are more aware of the world’s problems than my generation was. With news, articles, and podcasts available at their fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week, young people are acutely aware of the state of the world. In fact, many get their news from independent resources and most don’t even trust the mainstream media. They want real answers. They care about the hurt in the world, and if your church isn’t addressing those things, young people won’t stay for long.
Second, young people are looking for a safe place to work through real issues. They want someone to understand them and to give them grace as they work through their problems, which can be hard for some people. Far too often people have been hurt because the church turns a blind eye to real issues prevalent in today's culture. Ministry leaders must deal with what is relevant, and offer genuine discussion and a biblical response to these struggles.
Third, young people want the truth. This is true for not just them, but for many others as well. They don’t need anyone to sugarcoat anything. Instead, they want to be told the whole truth, and they want an opportunity to process the situation. They want to know why they believe something. In other words, they need to own the truth, and it needs to become real to them.
Fourth, they’re passionate about social activism. Is your church backing any major social movements? Are you supporting nonprofits that are doing good things for people around the world? Young people are becoming more and more active in the social issues of the world, and they want a church that cares about those things, too. They don’t want a church that shies away from the controversial, the tough, or the dirty. They want to face it head on and make a difference. So I challenge you to seek out an organization spearheading a worthy cause and start supporting them financially. You can also send volunteers to work with them. The point is, support causes that are not just new building projects on your property, but solve world problems.