Book Review: Reaching Millennials by David Stark

In Reaching Millennials: Proven Methods for Engaging a Younger Generation, David Stark writes from his personal experience in church leadership and church consulting alongside information and statistics from interviews and research. His writing is easy to read and the book is brief.

I struggle with a good bit of Stark’s conclusions in this book. While I believe that Stark is correct in writing that outreach to millennials requires a change in some thinking patterns, I do not believe that churches should change to fully accommodate any particular demographic. There should be a clear distinction between message and method. The message never changes. And the methods that the church uses to proclaim the message should represent a balance of tradition and relevance that meets the needs of a particular community.

I am undecided whether I would recommend Reaching Millennials. While Stark shares some important thoughts and statistics, his approach seems like it could further encourage the entitlement of millennials. Church leaders could learn from Reaching Millennials, but should not forgo Biblical tradition, firm doctrine, and the interests of other demographics.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Praise for Pleasure

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people… Psalm 149:3-4

If I never had another reason to praise, this should be enough. God takes pleasure in His people when they are dancing and singing to the praise of His name!

We struggle when we make praise and worship about us; when we seek our own pleasure or benefit rather than the pleasure of God. Praise must not be based on my feelings or circumstances. It is based only on His being worthy.

Don’t (just) praise Him because you feel good. Don’t (just) praise Him because you want to feel good. Don’t (just) praise for your pleasure. Praise Him for His pleasure. 

He loves it when you sing and dance to the praise of His name!

Prayer Revival

Prayer is the key to heaven and faith can unlock that door. Prayer revivals are important for the church. Something happens when we give ourselves to praying for the lost, for revival, for ourselves.

If you look to the past days of Pentecostal history, you will find prayer to be a key factor in the powerful events that took place during their days.

  • Their churches were steeped in prayer.
  • Their homes were baptized in prayer.
  • Their preaching was preceded by prayer.
  • Their altars were blanketed by prayer.
  • Their witnessing was prepared by prayer.
  • Everything they did was marked by prayer.
  • We have to careful that we do not buy into lesser substitutes for prayer. Prayer is a place of surrender and there are a lot of problems and difficulties in our lives that would be resolved if we were given to prayer.

    2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,and will heal their land.

    Never the Less

    In Psalm 106 the psalmist lists all of the many failures of the children of Israel from Egypt to Cannan. Despite all that He was doing for them, they piled up sin, failure, and complaints against God. Many times God delivered them, but they always seemed to find a way to sin.

    But then comes v44-45. 

    Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: and he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

    I am glad to know that His mercy is never the less. It is always the more. Never less than my sin and failures. Always more.

    Flying Words

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    There is much to learn from this short poem by an unknown author:

    Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds.
    You can’t do that when you are flying words.
    Careful with fire is good advice, we know;
    Careful with words is ten times doubly so.
    Thoughts unexpressed sometimes fall back dead,
    But God himself can’t kill them once they’re said.

    Let us be careful with our words to…
    …our spouse.
    …our children.
    …our friends.
    …our enemies.
    …our neighbors.
    …our co-workers.
    …everyone.

    We cannot haul in our words like kites. Rather, like releasing balloons they are immediately out of reach. We are left only to watch them drift away, never truly knowing where they fall.

    Will We Work In Heaven?

    This is a question that popped into my head today. Will we have a job, a duty, a responsibility, a contribution to make for eternity? I believe we will.

    For those of you who just felt angry or anxious, let me address some immediate objections. Someone may say that work is the result of the curse of sin in the garden. However, the curse was not the origin of work. Adam had responsibilities for tending the garden before the curse of sin. The curse simply required hard work in order to produce what was necessary to sustain life.

    Also, I don’t mean “work” in the way that you think of it. That is, unless you are one of those who can truly say that you are fulfilling your life’s joy and purpose and being paid to do it. When I say “work” I mean your contribution, your purpose, your art, and even your worship.

    I believe that we will all have a contribution to make for eternity; something that will connect us in worship to God and service to the redeemed. But I don’t believe that we have to wait until time is no more to begin making our contribution. I believe that we have the responsibility to make a difference in our world through our work.

    When we are saved, God doesn’t tell us to quit our jobs and rely on handouts so that we can pray and read the Bible until He comes. Quite the opposite, God’s Word is clear that there is a responsibility to provide. Laziness and idle hands are often condemned. His Word also teaches that we should treat our job, regardless of what it is, as a service to Him. Now let’s be honest, we don’t show up at work everyday as if we were working for Him.

    Why not?

    I believe we can make an incredible difference in our world today through our jobs. Whether you are a doctor, a mechanic, a janitor, or a full-time parent, your can make a contribution that helps meet your family’s basic needs and brings glory to God at the same time.

    If you are doing what you love to do, good for you. Keep doing that and do it as an act of worship. If you are like the majority of people who haven’t found your life’s work or a way to make money doing what you were made to do, keep searching. And in the meantime, show up at work like God is your boss. Do work that makes a difference. Seek to be a blessing to your employer, your co-workers, and the customers that your company serves.

    When you work like this, it ceases to be a job and it becomes your life’s art. And if you are a child of God, this world desperately needs your art. So please, get to work. Do something good. And get used to it. We will be doing this forever!