@sjoyner Sean, great question! Tim Keller breaks down the reasons someone is attracted to Christianity (or any worldview) into the 3 categories listed below. I’ve posted a video of Keller reaching out to millennials at a Google talk at the bottom because I think he does a great job in his approach and it is worth watching to learn from him.
- intellectual / rational
- personal / emotional
- social / community
In my opinion, I think the first thing to do is identify the best way to reach the people you know. I think for many people, social and emotional reasons open the door for the intellectual. For others, the intellectual open the door for the social and rational. I think it is important to know what type of person you are dealing with - since stereotypes about millennials do not apply to everyone.
Here are two articles, one from Cru and one from the Gospel Coalition, on reaching millennials. I thought Chen made a great point that, at least in general, millennials are interested in the implications of the Gospel for their life now.
“We talk about the kingdom of God as being “now, but not yet.” Jesus both defeated death and He’s coming back to fully unite heaven and earth. We’ve tended to focus on His coming back. But I think millennials are drawn to the “now” aspects. Millennials are drawn to these now aspects because of the anxiety they feel in the moment and because they long to see the world made whole. So without watering down the gospel, we can also talk about salvation as being now, and that Jesus is healing us and remaking us into our true selves in Christ. This resonates with millennials.” Josh Chen
All of that said, what do I think would be a good approach with your friends who are feeling hopeless? I think a great way to begin to reach them is to first ask them a question and then listen very intently to their response. Listening well will earn you the right to speak after they are done sharing their heart. Here are a few questions you may consider:
- What would make your life meaningful?
- Have you ever thought about turning to God in your struggle?
- Why do you think you feel empty like that?
You may be able to think of better questions for your friends since you know them. But I think after you listen well you can respond with this type of Scriptural statement:
I hear you man. You know an Israelite prophet once said that the people of his nation were looking for water in cracked cisterns. But think about it - if we put water in a cup with a crack in the bottom we’re left with an empty cup. And my experience is that when I try to fill my life with things other than God, I feel just like that empty cup. They leave me thirsty.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are thirsty and I will give you living water.” Jesus said He is the water of life.
[Your turn to boldly proclaim what Jesus has done in your life]
Jeremiah 2:13 - “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
I think we must remember not to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the same Gospel that saves yesterday, today and forever. And your testimony is powerful. But at this point you need to be prepared to answer your friends’ questions - this is where apologetics comes in.
Is that helpful? Always pray before for God to open doors in your conversations. May the Lord Jesus give you wisdom and open the eyes of your friends’ hearts to know His love and glory!