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From Losing Millennials to Loving Them: Help for the Local Church

Several of you may have read the books, reviewed the research, and even attended a multiplicity of seminars and workshops about Millennials and their precarious relationship with the church. But the question that still hangs in the middle of the room is:

"How do I share this with my local church in a way that will lead to change?"

In my experience, I've found many churches consider what is shared from the pulpit to be of high value and importance.  In initiatives like Millennial Matrix and others, where change is being forged in the local church, using a sermon series has played a vital role in shifting culture and educating church members.

To help you and your church, YGU would like to share our sermon series, "You Lost Me," that coincides with David Kinnaman's book by the same title.  This series afforded YG a chance to share with our congregation, over several weeks, valuable insights and findings.


[Click the graphic to view our Vimeo channel collection for this sermon series.]

Simultaneous to the sermon series, we encouraged our members to be involved with a weekly LIFEgroup, our small group ministry, utilizing the You Lost Me DVD and discussion guide. This afforded church members opportunities for conversation and interaction on the sermon topics and the book chapters.

[Click the graphic to see the RIGHTNow Media collection for this LIFEgroup series.]

We found this to be a powerful way to help our local church to get on the same page on Millennial issues and forge a mission for young adult ministry.

I know this may feel a bit overwhelming, so let me share here just one sample sermon I gave to help my local church love young adults better.

Hopefully these various media files and sermons have sparked for you some ideas of how to effectively implement teaching and culture change in your local setting. You know your church best, so contextualize and customize your approach to be constructive and palatable.

And finally, take and use any or all of the stuff cited here. Seriously. Email me [ ] sharing what you need, and I will do my utmost to provide it to you [down to my sermon outlines]. Seriously. 

At YG, we are committed to be of help to you and your local church love young adults better. You can do it, we can help.

in YG

Joining in the Journey of Millennials

What would your dream church be like? Undoubtedly this question could prompt a wide and diverse array of responses if simply based on genre, stylistic programming, and personal worship preferences. But what if we were to probe deeper to a core desire for community; What church would we be drawn to?

As part of the research conducted with Adventist Millennials, the Barna Group's VP for Research, Clint Jenkin, PhD, in Ministry Magazine, reveals a key to next generation's ideal church:

Forgiveness and acceptance. Nothing drives teenagers and young adults from the church faster than being rejected, and nothing draws them in faster than being accepted. Both are currently happening in spades in Adventist churches around North America.

Jessica’s experience captures both extremes—and on the same Sabbath. “I once visited a church near my home church that has a reputation for being really liberal. Everyone was so wel­coming and casual (everyone was wearing jeans) and I felt so free from peer pressure. They sang a song that said, ‘There is freedom in the house of the Lord’ and I just started crying. That afternoon I went back to my home church and one of my dad’s friends came up to me and asked me why I was wearing jeans, and why I didn’t go to church.”

In one discussion group, we noticed that the same people were sharing both types of stories—how they felt accepted at first and rejected later. When we probed on what caused the transition, they told us, in paraphrase, “the more they knew about me, the more I felt rejected.”

It seems that older adults tend to look at specific struggles and assign a judgment of the young person’s heart or intentions. But the young people often told us that God was using these struggles to draw them closer to Him, a process the older adults could not see.

Tracy shared her story of where her poor decision left her feeling judged by the church as opposed to feeling comforted—unfortunately she then felt defined by a single instance of sin. “In one of my past relationships, I let my boyfriend take me too far. . . and I really can’t forgive myself. I am praying God helps me forgive myself. It is tough to overcome something that has gone against your beliefs and I was stupid enough to let it happen. Each day I pray I can overcome this.”

The stories and surveys suggest what is needed is the patience to form solid relationships that exude forgive­ness and acceptance—trusting God to make the necessary changes and recognizing change also needs time. Never discard someone in the midst of a personal struggle, for it may be just what God is using to make the person into who He needs in the church.

Dr. Jenkin provides further insight on this crucial finding as part of his interview with Young Adult Life:

One of the beautiful things in Scriptures is this loving endurance that GOD has with Biblical characters and their winding journey through doubt and faith, rebellion and loyalty, obedience and forgiveness.  GOD's acceptance and forgiveness are life changing for Bible characters and 21st century Christ-followers alike. May your journey with Millennials afford you grace-filled moments to convey these beautiful aspects of GOD's character to next generations.


YG University [YGU] is our endeavor to be a life-long learning community of disciples, seeking to deepen the Christ-centered devotion of next generations, beyond the contours of Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church.

YGU aspires to be of benefit to the larger sphere of young adult ministry development across the Adventist landscape. We pray to be a blessing to many others and we are excited for the learning opportunities it will offer us as well.

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