It’s that time of the year.
Target and the local grocery stores turn into veritable labyrinths with stacks of bookcases and fans to the ceiling lining every open space. The roads feel slightly more clogged with cars and, if you pay attention, many of them have out-of-state license plates. More families are frequenting the local hot spot eateries looking slightly lost and out-of-place and taking much too long to order bagels.
There’s a crackle in the air.
A little prickling of energy and excitement.
I love it.
I’m getting ready for all the beginning-of-the-year activities – student fairs, kickoffs, catching up over coffee – and honestly realizing that lately I have had moments where I’m weary of conversations surrounding Millennials and the young adult generation. I’m tired of all the analyses and theories… all the comparisons and woes. All you really need to learn about one is to take one out for coffee.
Because, truthfully, are they really that special? Why are we so obsessed with them? Hasn’t every generation struggled with how to connect to younger generations?
Still. I do think it’s important to keep thinking deliberately about what their lives are like right now in terms of faith, relationships and the world. I’ve read through a much-recommended book called The Slow Fade: Why You Matter in the Story of Twentysomethings. It’s written by a “senior pastor, a college pastor, and a twenty-something—rethink one-on-one mentorship as the way to end the slow fade. They offer insights and suggestions that will help anyone get started fighting the fade.” Truth be told there isn’t anything revolutionary here but that is an indication that the depth of outreach and ministry isn’t dependent on flashy new programs or the size of the auditorium or the volume of the band:
Halting the slow fade happens when adults start investing in college-aged people. Engaging their hearts and minds doesn’t require anything fancy; it requires a willingness toward mutual fascination with one another and an openness toward sharing a journey together.
Rachel Held Evans recently posted some thoughts on CNN and Jonnie Russell wrote at Homebrewed Christianity on what Church should do to engage Millennials. They both basically reiterate the need for simplicity but substance in our outreach.
And I totally agree. But I’m sick of talking about Millennials. Because they’re no different from you or me when it comes to what is necessary for survival and growth.
The image of the cloud from Hebrews 11 and 12 is compelling in thinking about what surrounds young people today. Hearing the statistics on what freshmen have to navigate that first year – dark clouds of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, pressure to find a niche, and all while pursuing an education that will give them the skills for a job… It’s a lot. Sometimes it does seem a bit heavier than what I remember experiencing myself. But, I had a cloud of witnesses, too. And they surrounded me with prayers and presence, and that made all the difference.
I think less talk. More coffee. Keeping it simple and being together. That’s as good of a plan as any for ministering to any generation.
Mihee Kim-Kort is a teaching elder but mostly stay-at-home mom to twins, Desmond and Anna, and a third named Oswald (I should mention the fourth named Ellis, our boxer dog). The children graciously allow her to also work part-time in a ministry with college students as well as serve on various boards and committees. She is a writer and blogger (www.miheekimkort.com). She and husband Andy, who is also a teaching elder, live in Bloomington, Indiana.