Want to Reach Millennials, Start with the Beautiful

In a recent article at Vice.com, I was struck by a paraphrased statement taken from Fr. Robert Barron, a Catholic priest and prolific blogger, and made by Brother Bryan Kerns.  The statement Kerns made is, “You can’t start with the true, with propositional truths. You have to start with something else.  Start with beautiful.”  

I did a little quick digging and found this excellent article by Fr. Barron on Evangelizing through Beauty.  I love this teaching by Fr. Barron:

“The pattern is more or less as follows:  first the beautiful (how wonderful!), then the good (I want to participate!) and finally the true (now I understand!).  A young man watches a skillfully played game of baseball, and it awakens in him a profound desire to play as well as those whom he admired; and then the actual playing of the game teaches him, from the inside, the rules and rhythms of baseball.  A completely inadequate way of drawing a kid into the world of baseball would be to start with a clarification of the rules or with a set of drills.  Rather, show him the beauty of baseball, and he will want to play, and having played, he will know.” 

This is a great model for churches to use to engage Millennials.  If we truly want to reach Millennials we must start with beauty, with wonder.  Beauty and wonder can be established and discovered in your church if you choose to reclaim the arts, foster community, bring hope to the hopeless through acts of mercy, and by eliminating the injustices in our world.  

The good news of Jesus brings peace.  The good news of Jesus brings salvation and justice for all of creation.  So much so that the “watchmen lift up their voices and together they shout with joy.” (Isa. 52:7-10)  In what ways can your church be more intentional in reaching millennials by starting with beauty?

In the words of Fr. Barron, “I wonder whether this winsome aesthetic approach might prove more fruitful in a postmodern culture so instinctively skeptical of dogma either intellectual or moral.”