“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 NKJV
Two of the resounding markers for Millennials and Generation Z are their desires to be authentic and relational. They want to know people for who they are, not just who they appear to be. They long for relationships where trust is established, strengthened and depended upon. They view relationships as an avenue where they can share their whole mind and soul and receive the same in return.
Sound like anyone else you know?
From Old Testament to New, God repeatedly asks His people to "love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deut. 6:5 ESV). He may phrase it differently—follow Me, keep my Word, seek Me first—but the idea is the same: God wants the real you and He wants all of you.
Ironically, this desire is reflected in two of the least churched generations: Millennials and Gen Zers. Despite only 6% of Millennials and 4% of Gen Zers having a Biblical worldview, their interests align with God's in their quest for an authentic, relational world.
Now, imagine with me what it would be like if we honored this desire and walked alongside young people to show them that this is something close to God's heart as well. Just think about that conversation for a moment: We as God's people lovingly commend young people for holding these values and point them to Scriptures showing them how God's heart aligns with theirs.
Eyes will be opened, hearts softened and misconceptions broken. They will no longer see Jesus as the oppressive judge many Christians have depicted Him as through the years, but the Prince of Peace whose steadfast love endures forever. Gone is the notion that God is a distant, fickle oppressor and in comes the reality of God as an active, patient Father.
Young people will see God as He truly is and desire to have an authentic relationship with Him. These young people whose hearts burn for the oppressed and forgotten will hunger and thirst for God's righteousness. They will long for nothing other than abiding in Christ and bearing His good fruit.
This reality may seem unreachable, and honestly, it is, if we keep doing what we have been doing. If the Church sticks to the same script it's been using for generations, this beautiful possibility will be thrown into the fire alongside all the non-fruit bearing branches (John 15:6).
Therefore, the question remains: How do we convince young adults to abide in Christ?
First, we don't convince them of anything. Only God can convince them. We're to give Him our whole heart, mind and soul and love others as He loves us; He will handle the rest.
We do what we're praying they do: Abide in Christ. How are we to bear fruit if we ourselves are not abiding in the Vine?
Repeat steps 1 & 2.
"Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 ESV
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.