3 Ways to Evoke the Imagination of Millennials

Many years ago, Walter Brueggemann authored a short book about the importance of the imagination in the on-going ministry of the prophets—those who choose to find an alternative way to live instead of the story of the state. Living by this kind of imagination is an intentional act of hope and faith, trusting that God’s Story is greater still, that heaven is actively breaking into earth.

“Millennials are more optimistic than they have any right to be,” writes Rachel Johnson. “Does this signal hope for the dying church?” 

Johnson continues, “Our imaginations were formed in a world that inspired awe, not austerity, hopeful belief, not resigned realism…optimism is grounded in imagination. Imagination is a powerful catalyst for social change and millennials are primed to use it.”

Millennials thrive through creative optimism, engaging the world on what could be. Of course, they see what is wrong, but their desire to leave a legacy and make a difference fuel them to work toward the way things could be.  When other mindsets see problems, millennials see potential. 

The church is a sending body, called to empower and partner with millennials (and all generations) to engage the world with hope. The life and words of Jesus captured imaginations and stirred his followers to see the world differently, as a place where God’s tangible reign is being displayed.

How can your church engage the imaginations of millennials?  Here are some ideas to help you… 

  1. Preach from the prophets.  The prophets shared the story of faithfulness to God in the midst of difficult circumstances. They challenge their listeners to trust God and do justice, that faith and love are supposed to be active wherever you go.
  2. Embrace the arts. Art engages the deep places inside us where words struggle to connect. From hosting concert series to art shows, storytelling events to film festivals, the arts tease our imaginations with the joy of possibility. 
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Millennials are tired of easy and pat answers in all areas of life. Challenge them to think and give them the room to work out their answers together.

Johnson concluded, “Give us prophetic frameworks to imagine a new heaven and new earth and the courage to live as if they are here now.”  Living in the hope of a new heaven and new earth connects to the core of the millennial heartbeat.