Reaching younger men – especially Millennials – is a hot topic. The deceiver wants us to think that suddenly, after all these centuries, there is now some new, mysterious, opaque wall between the generations that cannot be described or penetrated. That's Myth #1 and it's nonsense. They're our children for Pete's sake, not aliens.
Myth #2? That we can't reach them because they don't want to be reached. Time out. Do any of us really believe that young men don't have the same dreams and aspirations we also had at their age? Has there been a human nature "reboot" in some secret corner of the cosmos? That's ridiculous! We all want to love and be loved, to understand and be understood.
So how do we reach younger men with the hope, nurture, and guidance that can only be found in Jesus and his gospel?
The way to reach younger men is the same as it has always been. We have to love them and mentor them into manhood, and that takes time. A man can resist, but it's pretty difficult to resist unconditional love (think "dog"). That's what happened to me. Some men who had been discipled themselves and were walking with the Lord took me under their wings and showed me the ropes. Jim Gillean, in particular, made me his project. He gave me a vision for Biblical manhood. He spent time with me. He cared. Reaching younger men is that simple.
What can you do? Stay alert. Be intentional. Decide in advance that you want to disciple younger men. Make yourself accessible. Make time. You can disciple "along the way," or you can lead a group, or you can meet one-on-one. Start with a decision to be part of God's great plan for the next generation.
And here's a different wrinkle: Don't "mind your own business." Men tend toward isolation when they have problems, so go ahead and intrude. Remember that no man fails on purpose. Yet many men make seemingly small compromises which slowly, over time, ruin their lives. So show young men the booby traps.
Want to change a young man's world? Here's the silver bullet for discipleship: When God puts a man in your path who is stuck, discipleship means finding out why and then helping him solve that problem.
And here's silver bullet #2: Care about people until they care about people. That's how we change the world. Besides, you can't get your official "I Am a Disciple" card until you are making other disciples. And by the way, start in your our own family.
It has been 40 years since Jim Gillean discipled me, and I'm still singing his praises. That's the love and respect some young man can have for you too. So pass it on. Take a younger man (or several) under your wing and show him the ropes.