Millennial & Mentoring: 5 Keys to Lasting Connections
The largest generation in today’s workforce, the millennials, seek lasting mentoring opportunities. An effective mentorship program is often the key to success, helping workers learn from the failures and mistakes of others while giving them the freedom and courage to do work their way.
“Millennials are often perceived as having high aspirations and lofty career goals. Many of them believe they can and should make it to the top of the organizational chart faster than previous generations. Mentorship programs can help companies match millennials with key executives in the roles they want to someday fill,” according to CIO.com. They don’t just seek advice as much as a relationship with someone who will help them as they work toward the company goals. And like any other relationship, mentoring needs to be personal, tailor-made, not a carbon copy “sit here, think this” program.
Mentoring makes sense in the business world. Doesn’t even make more sense in the church?
Jesus intentionally mentored twelve followers on a daily basis for approximately three years. They watched Jesus serve, listened to him teach, and regularly ate with him, asking him questions and trying to understand just who this Rabbi was. Even still, one of these friendships ended in betrayal. After the resurrection, Jesus commissioned his followers to go, do, and teach all people just like he did. True discipleship is mentoring.
Passing on the faith to the next generation is the constant call and work of the church. Sunday school, mid-week programming, youth camps, retreats, and weekly Bible studies are all ways churches have traditionally attempted and sometimes succeeded to mentor and disciple. Just like businesses need to rethink and reevaluate their mentorship programs, churches need to reimagine ways to engage and equip millennials through conversations of faith and life.
Faith in the community.
I know of one pastor friend who hung out at the local bars every Thursday night for years. He went and listened and prayed, looking for opportunities to talk and make a friend. Several of his key leaders repeatedly questioned his choice to go to bars, yet he didn’t stop going. He went with the love of Jesus where he knew there were people in need and as a result met dozens of people who he would minister to and later would attend his church.
It is imperative that pastors and church leaders are accessible and available for coffee, lunches, questions, emails, etc. If there are too many barriers to connect with the current leadership, then churches have forgotten that their calling is relational before institutional. Regularly communicate online and during services how those who would like to learn more can get in touch with the church’s leadership.
Short commitment periods.
Some discipleship classes and mentoring programs are designed to last for six months to a year. Redesign these to be taught in monthly segments and hosted at homes or off-site from the church to make them more available to the millennial lifestyle.
“All theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography, and that what a theologian is doing essentially is examining as honestly as he can the rough-and-tumble of his own experience with all its ups and downs, its mysteries and loose ends, and expressing the truths about human life and about God that he believes he has found implicit there,” writes Frederick Buechner. Find ways to share stories, and mentoring will happen on multiple levels.
Sharing in the fullness of life, from ballgames to movies to exercise, is a great way to make a relational and mentoring connection with millennials. Invite them to join you to low-pressure activities, where the focus is spending time doing something together. If you spend more than an hour together, opportunities for discussions of meaningful topics will rise.