In a recent article at his website, pastor Charley Reeb writes: “I did some research on the millennials in my church and was fascinated to discover what they look for in a sermon. Based on the feedback I received here are 3 things a sermon must accomplish in order to reach millennials.

Convince Them Why They Should Invest Their Time in Matters of Faith

This goes deeper than preaching sermons that are worth their time. Millennials, more than any other generation, embrace the variety of entertainment and stimulation in our culture today. They are keenly aware of the myriad of ways they can spend their time. Therefore, sermons must not only be compelling; they must also convince them why investing time in matters of faith is important.

Why should they have a relationship with God? Why should they read the Bible? Why should they pray? Why should they join a small group? Why should they attend worship on a regular basis? Why should they serve others? Many millennials did not grow up in church and don’t know why taking a break from social media to read the Bible and pray is important. Don’t assume they know why. It seems simple and obvious, but it is amazing how many preachers assume their listeners know why.

Answer the “Yeah, but…”

Millennials know that all the information in the world is right in their pocket. Whenever you reference a passage of scripture or use a sermon illustration they can take out their phones and Google it. In seconds they can know whether your illustration is true (or your own!) and can read other articles and sermons on your text. The result is that millennials know all the angles and can present an argument against what you are saying.

The lesson: Do your homework! Consider questions and counter arguments to your sermons and answer them. “Some of you may be thinking, yeah but…” You gain a great deal of credibility with millennials when they sense you have done your research and anticipate the questions they will be asking.

Validate their Skepticism

One of the biggest reasons why many millennials don’t feel comfortable in churches is because they feel their skepticism is not welcome. Sermons that resonate with millennials validate their doubts and questions of faith. Be willing to share your own struggles with doubt and faith and what it taught you. Also don’t assume all of your listeners are Christians. Consider the possibility that there will be atheists, agnostics and other curious people in attendance and acknowledge them in your sermon.

Quite often in my sermons I will say, “Perhaps you are not a Christian and have come to worship because you are curious about Christianity. You are always welcome here.” Don’t underestimate the power of making such a statement in your sermon. Validate skepticism and acknowledge the curious and your sermons will go a long way for millennials.”

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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