How the Church Can Engage Millennials

The past weekend our pastor posed a question to the millennials in our congregation, how can the church better engage millennials? He challenged any millennial to send him and the church staff ideas about how to get this generation, my generation, more involved. Normally this isn’t something I would write about, but here I go, about to try.

To preface this post I am writing very broadly. I am not just writing in regards to my own local home church but to the body of christ universally. That being said here are my thoughts on how the church can engage millennials.

Please read, teach, and engage me in God’s word. My generation is used to seeing advertisements and gimmicks so show me something different on Sunday mornings. Show me the goodness and truths in scripture and help me apply it to my life. In a world that is constantly changing teach me about God being the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Read me scripture because I need to hear it. Encourage and challenge me to study scripture and learn at home because it will enhance what I am hearing on Sunday.

When I was little I remember starting out in the sanctuary with the entire congregation and then 20 minutes into the service being led to the children’s class. I am not sure when this exactly stopped happening, but from late elementary school on I can remember only being with my peers unless I begged my mom to let me come with her. As a mom of three young children I would love to bring my kids to a family style worship service a couple times a year. I want them to see other adults engaging in worship.

Don’t hold back. Be bold and preach on the hard topics. Help me see the biblical worldview in a culture that screams otherwise. I love theologically rich hymns that challenge me and allow me to mull over the words even after Sunday worship. Remind me of the gospel message over and over again. I am still dying to myself daily and need to be reminded of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Keep on creating opportunities for real face to face fellowship. My generation has grown up with technology. This has been both a blessing and a curse. Pornography is running rampant, the selfie has made us even more self aware, and I don’t even want to admit how many times my husband has had to retake a photo of me for this blog. Real fellowship and real community is what we crave and as much as we try to cultivate it online it will never replace how life giving and necessary real friendship is.

Speaking of technology, make sure that your church website is easy to navigate. If it is hard for me to find basic information such as service times, statement of beliefs, and the different ministries your church offers there is a good chance I won’t be coming for a visit. To get my generation in the door a simple website with this information is all you need.

When I really think about it, the major way the church can engage my generation is by sharing the gospel. Jesus brings life change. And that life change is what will get and keep millennials, like myself, more engaged in the church. So pastor, keep preaching from God’s word.

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What I Learned from Reading the Bible

This year marks my second year reading through the Bible. Last year I started in the Matthew and read to Revelation and then made my way to Genesis through Malachi. I didn’t follow a reading plan but read at my own pace. This year I read from Genesis to Revelation and used The Bible Project Reading Plan. I read the ESV version this year compared to the NIV that I read last year.

Below are a few things I learned from reading the entire Bible again.

The connection between the Old and New Testaments. This was probably the biggest thing that I noticed this year. The passage that really helped me grasp the intensity of this connection was Matthew 27:46,  “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the past I would have glanced over this passage but with further study and reading I learned that these words are the exact first words of Psalm 22. The next time you have a moment I encourage you to read Psalm 22 in context with Matthew 27:46. Jesus knew this Psalm was about him and was quoting it with his very last breaths. It seriously gives me chills because I have to wonder if those standing by the cross knew what passage he was quoting.

Psalm 22 begins, “Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The passage is so precise in the description of the events of Jesus and his death, in verse 16 of the psalm, “They have pierced my hands and feet.” And in verse 18, “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

The psalm begins as cry of agony but ends in a proclamation of triumph proclaiming the Lords righteousness and that all the ends of the earth shall worship before him. Seriously read Psalm 22 in the context of Matthew 27:46 and the death of Jesus on the cross.

Reading passages of scripture that are hard to understand and the long list of genealogies are worth it. When I came across passages of scripture I didn’t understand, instead of glossing over them, I decided to use them as an opportunity to deepen my own growth and understanding. Let me preface by saying, I didn’t do this with every passage of scripture I didn’t understand. If I had I would have never read past Leviticus this year, but when something piqued my interest I asked questions, looked for guidance from other believers who are more spiritually mature/knowledgable, and in the process discovered that grace goes a long way in these types of discussions. I am so appreciative of those who took time out of their schedule to meet with me this year and encourage me.

I also challenged myself to not gloss over the long lists of genealogies and names that are throughout scripture. It was tough sometimes to get through all those lists of names but when I did I was surprised to find that I recognized names and could remember how those people fit into the overarching storyline in the Bible.

Last year I discovered that I really enjoyed the Old Testament. And this year I geeked out on Revelation, a book I would have stayed away from in the past because what I thought I knew about it freaked me out. What I discovered was not a book that holds a secret code that allows believers to decipher the timeline of Jesus’s return but instead offers the promise that one day Jesus will return and permanently remove evil and make all things new.

God used my kids to show me how much I don’t know and to encourage my learning. My five year old asked me during our family devotion one morning who the 12 disciples were. I quickly got out a piece of paper and started to make my list. And you guys, it was so off. I had Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Judas. That was my list, only six, and one of them wasn’t even part of the 12.

On the same piece of paper I quickly jotted down the names of Santa’s reindeer and the all the seven dwarfs but could not name the 12 disciples. And the reality of the situation struck me. My knowledge was shaped by what I had been taught but also what I had chosen to spend my time learning.

Upon pulling out my ESV Study Bible I quickly discovered that Luke was in fact not one of the 12 disciples. I found in the gospels where the disciples are listed and read the names to my kids (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13-14) . While I still cannot list all the disciples names on a piece of paper from memory my list is now much more complete. Lesson learned. Don’t assume you know what you obviously don’t know and be humble in admitting this to others, even your children.

God’s word is slowly imbedding itself into every crevice of my life and at times this can be painful. Reading the Bible points out my own failures and causes me to once again kneel before God and surrender my own desires. The beautiful thing that is happening through reading scripture and knowing God and discovering his character is that God’s desires are becoming my own desires. And that is the beauty of scripture.

Gods word is active and alive and I want it to wreck me. To permeate every part of me so that I can know God and his character. The Bible shows over and over again that God is good and we are not.

Reading the Bible requires discipline. That is it. There is no magic plan just commitment and self-discipline to spend time in God’s word. If you are wanting to start reading the Bible check out The Bible Project or start in the New Testament. I have recently started Reading God’s Story: A Daily Chronological Bible which uses a six day a week reading plan to read through the entire Bible in 365 days. Whatever plan you decide to use just stick with it, I promise it is worth the time and effort.

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Thankful Everyday

Each morning I wake up grateful for this life I have. I don’t type this as some cliché but as my true heartfelt sentiment. I am so thankful each morning when my eyes open and I can feel the bedsheets touching my skin and the way my socks feel on my feet. My husband thinks it is weird that I sleep in super thick socks. Even in the summer I sleep in them. When I was sick I couldn’t feel my legs so my socks remind me that I can feel. I can move. I can breathe.

With the Thanksgiving weekend slowly creeping away I always get a tad sentimental this time of year. My mind spins at 100 miles a minute thinking about how thankful I am for this life I have. My life is messy at times, I have three little kids, my bathrooms aren’t always clean, and my kitchen floor usually has several sticky spots on it. But in spite of the mess, when the sunlight starts to creep into our home in the morning and I see our kids awake, running around, playing, laughing, and how the light dances around their head casting an angelic glow against their hair and on their skin I am thankful. Thankful for life and for this moment in time that I wasn’t sure I would have years ago.

As crazy as Josh may make me at times he is the only person in the world who deliberately chose to do life with me. For this reason and many others I want to cherish each and every moment I have with him. None of us are guaranteed a certain numbers of days.

Life can get complicated at times and feel overwhelming, almost suffocating. It is at these moments when I know I can not rely on my own self and when I grateful for Jesus. Grateful for the moments when life hits me so hard I can’t bear the weight of it on my own. Our sufferings, shame, and sadness can either push us away from Jesus or bring us to our knees at the foot of the cross.

This life is the only hell believers will ever know. But for those who die in their sins, this is their only heaven.” Ray Comfort

The weight of this statement is huge. Read it again if you need. This life will be some people’s only heaven. And this is why I am grateful for each and everyday I have. Time is short and precious. We have to make the most of the moments we have. 

While I long for heaven, I am thankful to teach and raise my kids to know about the Lord, to read them the Bible, pray over them, and to be a present loving parent in their lives. I can think of no greater blessing then to see my children in heaven one day.

When life starts to feel like a wave crashing down I remind myself of all that I have experienced and where I am going. My thoughts anchor back to my Lord and Savior. And slowly the worries drift away like the wave going back to sea. I never thought I would see a day when I would have the family I do. So I am thankful each day I rise and feel the sunlight on my skin.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

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