Ever wonder if you’ll be able to continue to communicate effectively to younger people as you get older? I’ve been wondering about that and an excellent article in Christianity Today by Josh Ott got me thinking.
He points out that current church culture often suggests that you have to be young to communicate well to young people. While I get what he is saying, does that mean a man pushing his mid-sixties is all washed up as a pastor/teacher?
Recently, I have had coffee with several of our younger people at Victory. Their insights have challenged me. Rather than writing me off because I’m older than their parents, communicating effectively to millennials and younger generations has far less to do with the age of the speaker and far more to do with engaging your audience effectively.
Engaging your entire congregation with the truth of God’s Word, by communicating the gospel skillfully and effectively, is a far greater indicator of an ability to reach younger generations than how old your age.
That said, we can all sharpen our communication skills and adapt to share the gospel effectively with different age groups. To continue to reach millennials, a generation defined broadly as those born between 1981 and 1996, we can build engagement by simply pursuing an honest and genuine relationship.
Our younger attendees grew up during a rapidly changing time in the world. As trust in institutions has declined (church included) many among us can find it difficult to communicate to younger people because we may feel intimidated by technology, modern trends in friendship, and our own challenges in making friends.
One thing Ott said that resonated with me was: “While older generations asked, “What are you saying?” millennials are asking, “Why are you saying what you’re saying?”
Growing up, my parents would often say something like “because I said so.” Thus, stuffing any attempt for me to get answers to questions at times that I thought were important. While yes, at times, I was being rebellious, it also limited me in asking future questions.
Don’t hide who you are and your personality. Loosen up and let your brothers and sisters see you (1 Thess. 2:8). When they see you, they will see what God has done in and through you. But please don’t lose an opportunity to speak to the “Why” it makes a difference in your life. All generations appreciate authenticity, but millennials demand it. Tell them why Jesus makes a difference.
It may be uncomfortable talking about “Why?” but “Why,” especially in regards to your faith is so important. Answering “why” not only engages the limbic, decision-making side of the brain, but it also helps communicate the value of the life we have in Christ. With God’s grace, we can strive to engage all generations, regardless of age, with the amazing truth of His Word by continuing to refine our communication with our entire family at Victory.