Love God. Link with others. Learn to follow. Live on mission.

Acts 1:8 ....and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ten Ways Millennials Are Shaping Local Congregations Today

By Thom Rainer

They are the largest generation in history. In the United States alone, they number more than 78 million, even larger than the seemingly ubiquitous Boomers. They are the Millennials. They are changing our nation, our world, and our churches.

For the purpose of today’s post, I want to focus on changes they are already bringing to our local churches. I have the benefit of a large research project on the Millennials, plus the ongoing conversations I have with members of this generation. And I have spoken with countless leaders in churches about their experiences with Millennials.

Keep in mind that the birth years of the Millennials: 1980 to 2000. So the oldest member of this generation is 34, while the youngest is only 14. But their impact is already noticeable, and it will be for years to come. Here are ten ways they are shaping local congregations today:

  • More of them are attracted to smaller venues. They are thus one of the reasons for the incredible growth in the multi-venue model of churches and the growth of new churches. Leaders of smaller churches should be encouraged by this trend as well.
  • They see culture as something to influence, rather than an enemy to denounce. Many Millennials truly have a missionary mindset. They are turned off by those who constantly rail against people.
  • They like to cooperate with others. They do not view other churches and Christian organizations as competitors. They are attracted to congregations that are working with other congregations.
  • They abhor worship wars. I have a previous post on this topic called “What Worship Style Attracts the Millennials?”
  • They love churches that love their communities. One of the first questions a Millennial will ask a church leader is, “What is the church doing to influence, impact, and minister to the community?”
  • They are attracted to churches that emphasize groups. The Millennials want to be a part of a congregation that has healthy small groups, Sunday school classes, home groups, or other groups.
  • They want to be trained on their schedule. The Millennials truly desire training. But they are accustomed to having that training available when they are able to hear it or view it. Such is the reason that many churches are going to video training while have “live” worship services and small groups.
  • They will question almost everything. This generation will want to know why a church does what it does. The most unacceptable answer is, “We have always done it this way.”
  • They are slow to join, and slow to leave. Church leaders are often frustrated that a Millennial takes so long to commit to a local congregation. But they are intentional and thorough. Once they commit to a church, they are less likely to leave, especially over petty issues.
  • They want to be involved. If a church does not have an intentional plan to get Millennials involved in ministry quickly, they will not reach Millennials.
  • I love this generation. I love their enthusiasm, their commitment, and even their questions. They are one of the reasons I remain an obnoxious optimist about the revitalization of local congregations.

I would love to hear from some of you Millennials. And I would love to hear from some of the older folks like me who are interacting with this generation. Your comments are always more valuable than my posts.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seven Positive Ways Christians Can Use Social Media

by Thom S. Rainer

In a previous post, I shared seven warnings to Christian leaders about their use of social media. The post, by its very topic, was not positive. I do strongly believe, however, that social media can be used for good and for God’s glory.

In this post I show the other side of social media. And I do so with great encouragement that many believers are already approaching social media as a platform to share the gospel and show the love of Christ. Here are seven suggestions I would humbly add to this discussion.

  1. Pray before you post. If I have learned anything about social media, I have learned that I’m not the smartest guy around. I need God’s wisdom to communicate in such a way that brings honor and glory to Him. That is why I must begin with prayer.
  2. Encourage others in social media. Some of the greatest encouragements I receive come from people on social media. I am so thankful for the many Christians who use this platform in obedience to the Word of God: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  3. Respond with a gentle spirit. Let our desire be to win hearts rather than to win arguments.
  4. Remember who is watching you in social media. The words we Christians say to one another and to others are on display for the world to see. This platform is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in action, which brings us to my next suggestion.
  5. Use social media as an opportunity to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. God is doing great works through those in social media who strive to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit every time they post: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control” (Galatians 5:22).
  6. Create a prayer ministry through social media. Make it a point to pray for many of those you read or watch on social media. Let them know you are praying for them. At this blog, I ask Christians across the world to pray for a specific church every Sunday (use this form to submit a church).
  7. Seek to create unity in the body of Christ through social media. For sure, there are many who are divisive. But even more of us can be a mighty force for God to bring unity to Christians across the world. Paul said it well: “Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14).

I am incredibly grateful for so many of you who are positive witnesses for Christ on social media. It can be tempting to go negative since negativity draws attention and creates greater traffic. I would love to hear how you are using social media to share the gospel, encourage others, demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, and to show Christ’s love in a multitude of ways.