Through a non-scientific poll I learned people are interested in hearing more about how to reach people under the age of 30. Writing about this comes with some challenges for me; First, it has been a few years since I have been under 30. Second, there is no "secret" or magical formula. Therefore what follows are the ramblings of someone who has experienced connection with those under 30 in the past.
Not All The Same
The word here is monolithic. A great tendency exists to treat various groups of people as all the same. We live in a world that thrives on labels, conservative, progressive, older, baby boomer, millennial, and so on. While it is helpful for conversation and description, something significant can be missed. As long as there are people involved it is impossible to apply monolithic labels. Our friends at Dictionary.com offer a definition of monolithic as consisting as one piece, solid or unbroken, among the listed definition.
Principle #1 for reaching people under 30 is to remember not all people under 30 are the same. Just as this is true of any label we apply, people under 30 defy monolithic definition. When reaching people under 30 is talked about it is easy to get a mental picture of the person attempting to be reached. Our challenge is the image created has elements that are accurate while also being incomplete at the same time.
So how do we navigate this? Investing in relationships is the primary path. However, the relationship cannot be only a learning expedition. Utilitarian relationships are always found out, and cause greater distance and hurt. There must be a willingness to build relationships for the sake of relationship and the learning is a byproduct of a healthy relationship.
The reality is a majority of the effort in reaching people under the age of 30 is the same as reaching any person, relationship building. Having stated that, there are some understandings of being the church that will help create an environment to build healthy relationships. Over the next couple of entries additional principles will be explored with the understanding that treating people under 30 as all the same will not result in healthy relationships or congregations.