“We want to be talked to, not preached to. It’s like we’re overlooked.”
This is what baby-faced, 21-year-old gospel singer, Kelontae Gavin, shared on the popular YouTube show, The Terrell Show. He said this in response to Terrell’s question, “What is something that the Church (universal) could do better with reaching the youth?”
If your first response is to swat your hand in the air and roll your eyes, perhaps, therein lies the problem. The fact that millennials are walking away from the church is not a new revelation. And as millennials are getting older, so are the youth of Generation Z. So the real question is, are we, the church, content with allowing that to be the narrative of another generation? The answer to this question lies in whether or not we are open to listening to and having conversations with millennials and Gen Zers instead of forming our own opinions and writing off their grievances.
With that being said, Kelontae made some very valid points and they need to reach beyond the ears of the thousands of millennials watching The Terrell Show. So, let’s break down some of these points, shall we.
“When Jesus feeds the 5,000, in John’s account, it says that the lunch he fed them with he got from a young lad…He feeds thousands from a young boy’s willingness to give them the lunch,” said Kelontae.
What point was he making? He goes on to question whether or not some of the issues stem from young people not being willing to feed the adults, or those of an older generation, with the information they need to effectively reach them. Long story short, an environment of transparency and honesty has not been created for young people to talk about their struggles – depression, feelings of unworthiness, flaws, sins. The old narrative of correction without gentleness, judgement over grace and perfection over pursuit is no longer working…But should it ever have? We won’t go there.
“Do you know how many people in the Bible lives were changed when they met Jesus, not from a service but from a conversation,” asked Kelontae.
He followed this question by pointing out that the Bible doesn’t say that every person that had an encounter with Jesus left saved. However, their lives were changed because of Jesus’ willingness to listen to them and talk to them. Perhaps, it’s because He was attempting to shift their heart posture so that they could later be open to receiving salvation. Religion will destroy what relationship could have redeemed.
You may not reach them from the pulpit and it might take more than a sermon. It might start at your dinner table. After all, the point is that younger generations are walking away. This means simply raising them up in the church is not enough. It’s time for conversation. It’s time to listen.