Are You Listening?
ARLINGTON, TEX. – 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 do know or at least 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 relationships, to really listen and to be authentic, you will discover millennials are very open to that. Listening lets us step into the shoes of this generation.
Fuller Youth Institute’s book, Growing Young, reports that one of the main commitments young adults find attractive is: 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 that our young people live and breathe in the current cultural milieu. Listening to our own is a great first step to building relationships with future 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.
Leadership begins with listening. In ministering alongside young adults for nearly four decades, I have found this to be profoundly true.
By A. Allan Martin, Pastor