Without doubt millennials are an integral part of world missions today and thankfully their approach to missions is changing the missions landscape in ways that are well suited for addressing the challenge of post-modern missions. Before we explore this issue further let’s understand who millennials are.
It is generally accepted that the term ‘Millennials’ (Generation Y) is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. They live, think and act differently. They are more driven by cause than by money. They have little or no loyalty towards institution, therefore they do not look to them for care or to live out their chosen cause.
A proper understanding of Millennials, with all their idiosyncrasies, is cardinal for missions not just because they are the future leaders, but most are already engaged in missions. Geo-Political trends are rendering the old traditional approach to global missions non-attainable.
With the increasing number of millennials with a passion to be involved in missions today there’s need to explore ways that possibly can integrate them into organisations and churches, so they can realise their highest God-given potential. Below are just a couple of the many things that we could be done to achieve this.
Coach and mentor them.
Take personal interest in them and invest your time in them as you share your life with them. Millennials want to be part of the bigger picture. They want to see how their role brings change. They don’t want to follow the coach’s passion or calling, they have enough of their own. Allow them to make mistakes and to ask the tough questions, share their ideas, have the freedom to question why you do what you do. They want a platform to voice their opinion. They seek adventure so challenge them with guided and purposeful assignments.
Avoid treating them as ‘less missionaries’
Millennials grew up hearing that they can change the world; that power is within them, so we should not think of them as youth with no experience but use their flexibility, adaptability, no-care attitude to strengthen the church. They’re not a quick fix to a problem; they’re not just extra help to clean up and move chairs or do power points. They’re the success of the organisation; the future we have planned for is the one that they will live in. Invite them to help. If millennials believe in something, and it has made an impact on them, they share it. They grew up with sharing. They read shared articles daily and see shared images on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. They therefore make the best recruiting agents of their own peers.
As with any generational demographic cohort millennials have their challenges but we should not let these weaknesses negatively influence our attitude toward the millennials’ potential contribution to the accomplishing of Global Missions. God uses each new generation to carry on the work of previous generations.
Felix Muchimba, Ph.D., has been involved in Theological Training in Africa for over thirty years. He served with Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO) Zambia for many years as Principal. He is an author and international speaker. He serves on the African Church Based (ACBT) Program Board and is a volunteer Associate Leader for Operation Mobilization (OM) Africa Area. He is married to Eve and has three adult children and one grandson.