Recently, I’ve heard people coining this word, “millennial.” It’s a word that hasn’t been used unless you are in the classes of social studies, but I’m not here to give a detailed explanation of what a millennial is. To make a long definition short, I believe a millennial is someone living in today’s generation. Not just someone, but a youth, young person. You would think that everyone talks so highly of millennials, however everywhere I step, they talk so down about this generation. I feel like a lot of people today have lost hope for our future and destiny.
Believe it or not, the generation of today, are the world changers for tomorrow. We cannot disown the youth of today. We cannot do away with who God created. If He hasn’t called you, He’s called them! As a youth director, part of a local church, and a tutor that is part of a public school I’d like to share with you 5 practical ways to help reach today’s generation.
1. You have to believe for their future and not their past.
If you were to put yourself in the mind of a teenager, you’d always have someone remind you of your struggles and flaws, and never remind you of where your going. Often times I hear young people in the secular world who have people that they trust in their lives always look down on them. They say that they will never amount to anything because of what they’ve done or did. Where is the hope we have for them? If you work in the school system and or your local church and you’re heavily involved with youth, you need to be able to believe the best for them, not the worst. Students need to hear where they are going, not where they’ve been. That’s a mistake our world has. They remind them of their past, but as a leader you need to be able to remind them of their glorious future. Speak life for their future, and speak death to their past.
2. You have to relate, not resist.
Being involved in both youth ministry and education is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever had the opportunity to do. I once heard one of my professors quote during school, “in order for you to teach middle school or high school, you have to be able to relate to the students.” A lot of time we don’t understand what students go through because we don’t have the time to relate to them. In order for you to reach the next generation you have to relate to them. Don’t resist them just because they don’t meet your expectation for your leadership group. Don’t resist them just because they don’t know God’s word yet. Until you relate to them about what they go through, where they’ve come from, where they’ve been, you’ll then understand who they were, and who they will become. Don’t ever neglect them because you cant relate. Once you spend enough time with them, you’ll understand the potential they carry for your life and theirs.
3. You have to have compassion, and not curse.
It amazes me how many people will try to curse this generation. When nobody else is looking, people will speak death to someone they don’t even know, someone they can’t even understand. or someone who never did wrong. Where is the compassion this generation needs? We need to have compassion for those who are hurting, those who are wounded, those who are coming from broken families and broken pasts. If we are the hands and feet of Jesus, then compassion needs to be in our actions for this generation. Instead of cursing them, start being more compassionate for them.
4. You have to build relationships, not rituals.
A lot of times we develop rituals to avoid the students that God has put in our life. What do I mean by rituals? We start doing things over and over again to avoid our relationship with those that God has called us to mentor and steward. I’m not saying to throw everything away and avoid your family. What I’m saying is you need to be able to balance your students and others into your life. If you are the youth pastor, youth leader, youth director for your church, please be there for them! They need you and they want to learn from you! One thing I love to do with my girlfriend, when we get the opportunity to, is to spend time with some students and invest in what we believe will be the hope of our future. We've learned to balance them into our lives. We've learned to treat them like family. We've learned to love them unconditionally just like Jesus would and did. That’s one method that I use that was taught to me by my former youth pastor. He always took the time to spend time with me, invest in me, and speak into my ministry. That’s what our students and this generation need. They want a great relationship with you. They want to be loved by you. Don’t ignore what God has called you to care for.
5. You have to have faith for them, not fear.
The bible clearly states that “God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear, but love, power and a sound mind.” I know sometimes reaching out towards the generation of today comes with great fear. Fear can be the who, what, where, when and why. Who are we going to reach, what are we going to do, where can we do this, and why are we doing this? Don’t ever allow the enemy to put fear in your life, when God has called you to have faith for the millennials of today. Believe in them and have faith in them like God is does. We are the only way they can see Jesus. You be the light for them. You be the hope for them. It doesn’t matter how much faith you have, as long as you have faith God will use what you have and turn it into plenty.
I pray and hope that these 5 points bless you and your ministry. Our generation needs us. They want to be more like Jesus. What better way than to be in their life! Be blessed.
Ryan De La Rosa serves under the ministry of Pastors Bill & Anne Moore at Livingway Family Church. Ryan oversees the youth ministry of Livingway Family Church in the Harlingen Campus as the youth director. He is also a tutor with IDEA public schools in Brownsville, Texas. Ryan's goal is to see a generation filled with the Holy Spirit and know who Jesus is.