Reaching Millennials through stewardship evangelism

Here’s a tip for pastors and other congregational leaders eager to attract young adults to the Christian faith. Challenge them with straight talk about money.

Sounds crazy, I know, and especially to Boomers who’ve spent a life-time tuning out the teachings of Jesus on the topic. But a new generation of stewardship evangelists are finding eager converts among Millennials.

This past week, news flashed across my computer screen of two great initiatives for helping young adults think faithfully about the way they live, spend, and serve.

The first is Lazarus at the Gate, a free-for-the-taking stewardship curriculum that’s generating a generosity mini-revival in the Boston, MA area — including among non-church-goers. The name derives from a story told by Jesus in Luke 16:19 – 31 involving God judging a rich man for not helping a poor man named Lazarus who lived at his gate.

According to the originators of the program (Gary VanderPol, a pastor and ThD candidate studying poverty and Christian missions, and Mako Nagasawa, an InterVarsity director) the goal is “simplicity for the sake of generosity” that flows from “a vibrant relationship with Jesus with a vibrant commitment to the world’s poor.” Since 2007, Lazarus groups have contributed more that $2oo,ooo to relief projects worldwide.

My second discovery, a teaching series that integrates small group ministry and Sunday morning worship, is found at Stewardship for the 21st Century on the website of Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN).  It’s the brain-child of Mike Rusert, a student at Luther and the senior high youth director at Jacob’s Well, a congregation filled with people in their 20s and 30s.

Rusert built the curriculum around “three indispensable qualities that younger generations seek in a church community: authenticity, compassion, and self-sustainability” — qualities he claims not only “get people in the door,” but also develop the trust that’s necessary for self-giving.

Through the ages, millions of younger folks have dropped their nets without a moment’s hesitation to follow Jesus. We should expect no less from the current generation. It’s time that churches get back on message about faith and money. It’s time to give stewardship evangelism a try.

Who knows. We may win a few Boomers along with their Millennial kids.

Comments

  1. Great topic! I’m the director of ministry advancement at a large church in the St. Louis, MO area and we are really struggling with how to get the younger generation to give. There are some great insights here.

    • Hi Becky, I’m glad you found this post and that it is helpful to you. You’ve encouraged me to look for other resources aimed at encouraging youth and young adults toward generosity toward Kingdom causes. Let me know what’s working well for you.

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