Knowing and being Known: Discipleship and Millennials
By Stefan Klassen, Crossroads MB Church, Winnipeg
“What are you hiding?”
These words were how Jeremy Walker decided to begin his talk on Knowing and being Known: Discipleship and Millennials. This question quickly struck a nerve in me as I began to recall a few of the least honourable moments of my past. Building on his experience as a professor at Columbia Bible College, Walker went on to explain that those who desire to disciple Millennials need to be able to model an openness that would likely make many of us uncomfortable.
In my own experience working with youth and young adult ministries, I found myself resonating deeply with what Walker had to say. I have heard many times, in many different words and ways a desire young people have for someone they can be genuine and honest with. Millennials have a hard time trusting. So with this lack of trust, the tendency for many is to hide what might be condemned or is displeasing about themselves. This is where I find myself contemplating Walkers words: “the cost of hiddenness is high.”
This quote has gripped me as I reflect on my own experiences both as a young person and a leader of them. Being immersed in social media, status updates and countless pictures of everyone’s high moments we have become experts in hiding who we really are. So we see everyone’s best moments and compare them to what is going on in our own hearts. It is not hard to see how we come up short in this process and often find ourselves asking the question: who really knows me?
Many of us spend countless hours crafting a persona specifically built to hide our flaws from anyone and everyone based on the fear of what people might say or do if they only knew who we really are. This is the reality many Millennials find themselves in, and if we want to truly engage and disciple them, we need to get past this.
The simple answer is that if we want to engage and to really know Millennials, we have to let our guard down and let them know us, warts and all. I don’t know about you, but I often find it easy to quote Romans 3:23 (“we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”), but it is quite another to open up about my own specific sins and struggles.
This is exactly what Walker is suggesting.
I am often convinced that I need to be the best and a perfect example of faith to lead others. But that is just more of me trying to hide my flaws. What I gained from Walker’s talk and find myself convicted of is that if we want to lead, we need to do so not just by modelling good practices, but by being open with our disciples and modelling how to recover and respond to sin appropriately. We need to be people who Millennials can trust, who they see as full of grace when they fail, who will walk with them through reconciliation.
–Stefan Klassen is apprentice pastor at Crossroads MB Church, Winnipeg. He is also currently enrolled at CMU/MB Seminary under MBCM’s elevation program. When Stefan is not leading in the youth and young adult ministries at church, he spends his time playing the latest board game. He is interested in discipleship with Millennials because he both works with them and is pretty sure he is one.