Reaching the 20Somethings

Quick: Who are you trying to reach?

Please don’t say “everyone.” If you are crafting a strategy to reach “everyone,” you are virtually guaranteed to reach “no one.” Think of light. Light that is diffused does very little in terms of penetration. Focus it through a magnifying glass and you can set something on fire. Focus it into a laser and you can cut through sheet metal.

So let’s get focused on who we are trying to reach for maximum impact.

First, if we really are talking about outreach, then you are not after the already convinced. So let’s rule them out. Let’s rule out the de-churched, too. Sure, they should be in a church, but they are already believers.

Let’s be hardcore.

Which means we’re talking about the unchurched unbeliever. The raw meat for evangelism. The testosterone for the mission. The person far from God. The one who doesn’t give much thought, if any, to Jesus, to heaven and hell, and certainly not to a church.

But we’re still not done.

Who is the average person in this category?

A 26-year-old. Yes, 26. Right now in the United States, 26-year-olds are the largest single cohort, numbering 4.8 million. And just in case you want to know, 25-, 27- and 24-year-olds follow close behind (in that order).

They live on the cusp of many of life’s most defining moments: choosing a career, buying a house and having children.

But there is a challenge.

They need remedial education in… well… almost everything. Take a cue from the marketplace, which is, as usual, ahead of the church on such matters. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has started offering gardening lessons for young homeowners that cover basic tips – really, really basic – like making sure sunlight can reach plants.”

Jim King, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Scotts, said: “These are simple things we wouldn’t have really thought to do or needed to do 15 to 20 years ago. But this is a group who may not have grown up putting their hands in the dirt growing their vegetable garden in mom and dad’s backyard.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise for a generation with “over-scheduled childhoods, tech-dependent lifestyles and delayed adulthood.” They are so different, in fact, “that companies are developing new products, overhauling marketing and launching educational programs—all with the goal of luring the archetypal 26-year-old.”

So companies such as Scotts, Home Depot Inc., Proctor & Gamble Co., Williams-Sonoma Inc’s West Elm and the Sherwin-Williams Co. “are hosting classes and online tutorials to teach such basic skills as how to mow the lawn, use a tape measure, mop a floor, hammer a nail and pick a paint color.”

In other words, they need the education before they can even begin to consider a purchasing decision.

Or even a purchasing need.

I hope you smell the application coming.

If you want to reach a 26-year-old unchurched unbeliever, you will need to go remedial. The heart of evangelism, and the apologetics that softens the ground for evangelism, will have to pay fresh attention to explanation.

For example, we did a series titled, “How to Bible.” As in, how to read it, how to apply it and how to believe it. Right now we are in a series called “Thru the Bible in 7 Weeks.” It’s an overview of all the big themes and ideas of the Bible, including introductions to all 66 books. In today’s climate, it’s critical to offer the most basic of introductions to the identity and nature of Jesus, Trinity, grace, prayer and sin. Beyond theology, when it comes to a relationship with God, there needs to be practical attention paid to such practices as prayer, worship and community.

Remember, you are trying to reach a 26-year-old who needs remedial education on all things in life, and this includes the spiritual.

Give it to them.

And then watch how your newly focused outreach to the unchurched actually starts reaching them.

Read more from James Emery White.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

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Recognizing Generation iY in Your Church: Ready or Not, Here They Come!

Millions of high school and college students have just graduated nationwide. Today’s grads are part of the Millennial Generation. They represent the second half of this generation, and I call them Generation iY, because they grew up influenced by the “i” world, iPods, iTunes, iPhones, iChat, iPads…you get the point.

These grads from Generation iY (the kids born since 1990) are now job hunting. Business media is inspecting them like scouts hunt gifted athletes. About 10,000 of these kids turn 21 every day. Their generation is 80 million strong and growing. Their presence in the workplace is already causing a splash because they are…well, different. While the media describes them as “entitled” or as MTV’s “no collar workforce,” I think if we understand them, we can make the most of their gifts. Based on stats from Pew and Mediapost.com, let me de-code them a bit below.

1. They appear “choosy” or picky…but they want work to have meaning.

These students are primed to “give it their all” but only if they find jobs that offer meaning, mentors and merit. They want their job to matter, they want to grow and they love being “heard” by supervisors even though they’re young and have no experience. The desire to make a difference is a core Millennial trait.

2. Their work ethic appears low…but they want to connect socially.

The average adolescent is disconnected from others only one hour a day, out of 24 hours. They sleep and often shower with their cell phone. The quest for meaningful work and relationships seem odd to elder employers. “Loving what I do” outranked a big salary or a bonus, according to Pew Research. 89% agree it’s important to be “constantly growing at my job.”
71% want coworkers to be like a second family.

3. They want to belong…before they believe or behave.

To understand the “cart” and the “horse” in a Gen iY kid’s life, it’s important to know that they’ll work till midnight on work projects, but only if they’ve been given a sense of “ownership” and have been listened to by colleagues. 50% of them would rather have no job, than have a job they hate. 95% are motivated to work hard if they know where their work is heading. We will get the conduct we want if we first connect the mundane task they perform with the big picture.

4. They appear to be cocky…but they believe they offer something valuable.

Raised by “peer-ants,” (parents are like peers), they’ve always had a say. 76% of them believe “my boss could learn a lot from me.”
65% say “I should be mentoring older coworkers when it comes to tech and getting things done.”
This doesn’t mean they don’t think they have a lot to learn from a boss. It’s a sense that learning is a two-way street, regardless of seniority.

5. They want to apply themselves…but they don’t separate work from play.

In one study of Baby boomers and Millennials, they were asked to anonymously send postcards in which they explained what it would take for a
company to get them to do the best work possible. A typical Boomer response was: “Give me my objectives and get out of my way.” A typical Millennial response: “I need flexibility, respect… and snacks.” According to Generation iY, work should be fun.

6. They appear to be insubordinate…but they just want to create their job.

These conforming non-conformists are a paradox. They want to invent their job, then add value. 66% of them agree they want to invent their own position at work. 60% agree “if I can’t find a job I like, I will try and figure out a way to create my own job.” 83% of Generation iY is “looking for a job where my creativity is valued.”

7. They appear to be different…but actually want to be part of the big picture.

A full 70% of Millennials say they need “me time” at work, almost twice as many as Baby boomers.
93% said they want to be themselves, yet they do want to blend and be part of something bigger than themselves. 75% of Gen iY want a mentor, or as one participant said “I don’t so much want a boss; more of a Yoda.” Bottom line? If we will invest in them—they will invest in the work and furnish a huge ROI.

Read more from Tim here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders. His latest book Habitudes for the Journey is designed to master the art of navigating life’s critical transitions.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.