Reaching the Millennial generation has become a burning issue for the body of Christ. The current generation of leaders in the ministry are getting old and many of them are retiring or slowing down. The big question now is who's next, and how do we reach out to them?
Studies have shown that more and more millennials are losing interest in church affairs. In an attempt to keep them in and attract more, churches may be tempted to repackage Jesus as "cool," with the danger being that those in the pews miss out on the true essence of who He is. In our attempts to make the gospel palatable, we can end up distorting the true message that Jesus came down to earth to send and live out.
I'm not saying we shouldn't make Jesus relevant and timely for today. But there is the danger of overdoing it and making Christianity fit the needs of the people often twisting truth to make faith convenient instead of us following Jesus no matter what the cost. Here are three pitfalls that threaten us when we overdo trying to make Jesus appear cool.
Pitfall #1. Missing what Millennials really want
We think that if we change the wrapper, add a nice catch phrase to it and put nice lights and great music (even if the content lacks substance) that Millennials will be happy. I'm a firm believer in church marketing and that's what I actually do, but when we overdo it to the point of not making it organic anymore we are actually losing what Millennials truly want which is authentic content.
Prosperity teachings, legalism and antinomianism are just some examples of how we twist the truth to make Jesus "cool" only to miss out on the content and authenticity that people look for. Appearance is important but God reminds us to never lose the heart at the expense of making better experiences.
Pitfall #2. Being too much about the experience
God calls us to be built on the foundation that is Jesus Christ and nothing more. Ephesians 2:20 says that we are "...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone." Great experiences are not the main goal of our faith. Yes they can help us process and understand the truth of God, but they are not what bring lasting change. Only Jesus Christ and the authentic and pure gospel can do that. That means helping church members grow and be transformed into authentic disciples of Jesus with strong roots in the faith and a clear understanding of the Bible. And all of that means offering excellent teaching.
Pitfall #3. Watering down the gospel
Often, at the expense of better experiences, nicer services, cooler branding or catchier messages, we lose the essence of the gospel. What is the gospel? It is the message that points out two truths: our sinfulness and God's lavish grace in the midst of our failures. We cannot water down both parts of the message. Both truths must be equally preached at all times.
Romans 1:16 says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."