Want to reach out to unchurched Millennials? Begin by listening to the young adults in your church, or at least the ones on your church record books. How can we reach out to young adults we don’t know, if we don’t even converse with the young adults we know or know of? Generally, young strangers aren’t interested in you talking to them, especially about church or religion, without some type of relational context. However, if you take the time to build relationship, to listen, to be authentic—Millennials are very open to that. Listening lets us step into the shoes of this generation.
In Fuller Youth Institute’s book, Growing Young, this is one of the main commitments young adults find attractive: Empathize with Today’s Young People. Our church members assume that secular, postmodern young adults are ‘somewhere out there,’ outside of our church circles. However the truth is, our young people live and breathe in the current cultural milieu. Listening to our own is a great first step to building relationships with next generations.
Empathize with Today’s Young People: This means “feeling with young people” as they grapple with existential questions of identity, belonging, and purpose; as they experience “systemic abandonment” due to divorce and the self-absorbed adults around them; and as they act out a desire for connection through social media.