Millennials is the term given to today’s young adult born somewhere in the early 80’s to the early 2000’s. They have also been called Generation Y and even the Silent Generation. Some of these terms are a bit scary in that we think we aren’t qualified to do anything with them. The business world has spent a great deal of time and money understanding how to work with and mostly sell to this generation. But, the thing to remember is they are college students and other young adults with needs and we just need to be intentional about how we express our care and concern toward them.
Six Things to Remember in Reaching Millennials:
- First, there is really good news: This generation has said they want to learn from and be mentored by older adults. So, you do not have to be some super young, cool adult in skinny jeans to work with them. I have found this to be true again and again.
- They are used to choices. If you visit a college cafeteria, you will see it is literally a Food Court of choices. They don’t know the old, “here’s your plate eat it cafeteria”. This spills over into their every day lives. One way this can fit into how we do ministry with them is to give them choices as to topics, studies, projects, etc. But, don’t give choices you cannot deliver on!
- Excellence is a big deal. Sloppy in what they are provided just will not get it. They have been to big name concerts and they look at top notch things on their phone or computer all the time. It does not have to be high dollar, but it must be done well. Preparation on your part is key.
- Relationships are huge! They crave and want relationships. BUT, they are becoming less adept at doing relationships due to their technology. Instead of talking to the person next to them before class starts, a college student will be on their phone texting with someone. One thing we can do to benefit them is to teach them about relationships…the kind where two or more people look at each other in person and talk. Remember, many of these college students are taking classes on line sitting in a room by themself.
- Human Issues are of interest to them. Things like Sex Trafficing, Childhood Poverty, Hunger, etc are of concern to many of them. But, they may not know how to channel those concerns. This can be an area of connection to them. Help them be aware and see ways to be involved. Some ministries have had success enlisting young Millenials in ministry projects that connect to these areas of concern.
- Trust is huge. This is a generation that feels they have been let down. They feel social and government leaders have failed them and many feel let down by parents who have divorced in recent years. Rightly or wrongly, you will have to earn their trust. It may not be automatically given.
What is the Magic Formula for reaching this generation? I do not know that there is one….just like for previous generations. But, I believe with all my heart when we care about people and invest in their lives, God uses that. When you care and keep caring…most people get that.