What would happen if we simply met people and made friends of them, having no agenda other than to be their friend? What would happen if we use this strategy with younger people?
Would this enable us to broaden our reach? Would this empower us to become involved with their lives? Would this enamor us to them? Would this lead to opportunities to discuss the meaningful things of life?
All of the above should result from this effort. Not universally, and likely not in the way we had hoped, but it would be a win because, if nothing else, we would have more friends to learn from.
Making friends for the purpose of being a friend must be our goal. If we try to “make friends” for any other reason, we will be dismissed-and rightfully so. Especially with young people.
Who could blame them?
If we were to reach out with making them a “project” for us to use in acheiving anything that we want, then they have every right to dismiss us. People and churches have been doing this for a long time. I argue that it rarely, if ever, has worked. With younger people, it works even less successfully than with anyone else.
Why would this be true?
Being hit up with ads, sales pitches, and offers has been the way of life for Millenials, Gen X and Gen Y, since entering this world. I recently read an article in which the author argues that these generations have been sold on things practically from their birth. When I look around, I can see the truth in this. They are technically the most connected generation in history, yet this same technology constantly bombards them. Even they understand that this type of connection is shallow. Yet, they engage in it because they really can’t see any other options.
If we truly want to connect with them, we cannot go after them with techniques similar to how everyone else is going after them. We must be different. When we show them that we care about them through personally investing ourselves and our time in them, we are different.
For the younger generations, what could be more different than to really care for them, listening to them, valuing their views and opinions, inviting them into the conversation instead of treating them as though they should learn from us instead of taking the time to learn from them?
What do we have to lose?
Next time, we’ll begin to unpack some ideas on how to train ourselves in our thoughts, speech, and attitudes to enable this type of engagement with others.
Serving you gladly,