How do we engage young adults with the Bible? Or to phrase the question slightly differently, what can we do to help Millennials (those born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s) connect with the Scriptures?
To begin, we can’t continue doing what we used to do. Twenty-first Century young adults don’t think and act like their parents and grandparents. Marketing a cool new youth Bible or promoting a radical Bible reading plan really don’t work anymore. Different approaches and tools are required.
So if the models and paradigms of yesteryear don’t cut it, then what does? How do we create new strategies and resources that will capture young people’s attention and help them engage with the Bible?
Perhaps the first step is knowing that Millennials value authentic relationships, respect personal stories and experiences, prefer non-prescriptive interactive approaches, and enjoy opportunities to grow in understanding through discussion and partnership. They are also suspicious of the institutional church, wary of authorities, and distrust meta-narratives.
If the first step is to understand the core values of Millennials, then the second step is to be aware of how Millennials exist in and are defined by a digital world dominated by technology (unlike their parents who may be digital immigrants, young adults are digital natives). This generation are intrinsically linked to the devices and software they own and use. For many young adults, being offline or unable to interact on social media sites is intolerable!
Building on the first two steps, the third step may be one of advocacy (reestablishing the Bible’s relevance and credibility). Because Millennials distrust metanarratives and view the church with suspicion, their fears need to be allayed. This is a mammoth challenge. Confidence in the Bible has declined over many decades and it will probably take many years of collaborative efforts to reverse the decline.
Closely associated with the need for advocacy is the need to discover new ways to help Millennials read/hear/see/experience the Bible. Before a young adult will use the Bible they have to be exposed to it in ways that are multi-sensory, tie in with their core values, and build relational trust.
Finally, the strategies and resources that are developed to help Millennials engage with the Bible should facilitate the following:
- online and face to face connexity
- dialogue, questioning and sharing
- discovery of truth and meaning
- sharing of stories and experiences
- living out the biblical faith
How does this fit with your perspective? Join the discussion. Make a comment.
© Scripture Union Canada 2014