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Guiding cause-driven Millennials toward Christ-driven leadership

| by Bethany Macklin

According to Roy Y. Chan, Founder of Philanthropy for America, “…Millennials are the most active group with philanthropy and social justice issues than any other previous generations in U.S. history.”

This has produced a cause-driven generation where social, political, or global issues are a rallying point for fulfilling one’s life purpose. In his in-depth article Chan goes on to state, “… if we as Millennials are not thriving with a sense of purpose and a shared vision of justice, we will continue to struggle in life, affecting how we perform as American citizens and consumers of society.”

Christian Millennials, in particular, can get drawn into this cause-driven paradigm where their faith and leadership investment becomes more about advancing a social cause than advancing the gospel of Christ.

In an age of cultural decay, we need courageous young leaders willing to share the truth about sin, grace, and the need for repentance and reconciliation with a holy God. 

There are two things we can do to lead our cause-driven young adults to Christ-driven leadership for the cause of Christ.

1. A new priority

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

This first and greatest commandment is often overlooked in our cause-driven culture. Teaching what this command means in the life of a leader is the top priority to develop and deploy God's new generation of leaders.

Engage their heart for God.

We can engage their hearts by unpacking this commandment and asking questions like, “ What does scripture say it means to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul? In what ways does this influence how we relate to God, how we view social issues, how we invest our lives? How could pursuing God above all else change our responses to social injustice and global issues?”

With 35 percent of Millennials reading the Bible with any frequency, another powerful way to facilitate this “God first” shift is to help them deepen essential spiritual disciplines:

  • Daily study and application of scripture 
  • Daily prayer
  • Regular corporate worship

This equips them to engage today’s culture with biblical truth in meaningful, articulate ways and provides solutions for young leaders who feel that Christianity “does not offer deep, thoughtful or challenging answers to life in a complex culture.” As they learn how God’s character and biblical truth intersect cultural issues, they will discover unique opportunities for sharing their faith in word and action.

2. A refocused passion

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34).

Is their potential for God’s kingdom being siphoned off by this omnipresent pull of social causes? Businesses, organizations, charities, and churches — all are scrambling to find creative, compelling ways to harness the passion of millennials. Unless we engage their heart for God, they will be absorbed into our social justice culture and lose the potency of their potential impact for Christ.How are we working to develop the full potential of the young leaders already in our midst?

Harness their passion for Christ.

Millennials seek to pour their lives into meaningful activities and are willing to go all out in their pursuit of them if their heart is engaged.That means theirpassion for social causes can feel like a fire hose at full strength. But their desire for love, mercy, and equity is a reflection of God’s heart and an expression of what it means to be made in His image. As leaders, our job is not to stem the flow but to direct their hearts to God so he can accomplish his purposes in and through them.

With a majority of Christian Millennials already aligned with the core values of Christ, the time is ripe for a rich harvest of bold leaders. What they lack is mentors to help them grow spiritually, discipleship to take their leadership to new heights, and opportunities within our churches to grow into the leaders God is calling them to be.

Young leaders are straining to move forward now.What will we do today to lead the largest living generation into a Christ-driven paradigm where love for God funnels their passion into eternal kingdom purposes? 


Chan, R. Y. (June 24, 2016). “Rethinking the Millennial Generation: Why Millennials Are the Future of Philanthropy, Social Justice, and the Workforce.” Philanthropy for America. Retrieved from

Zylstra S. E. (May 16, 2016). “What the Latest Bible Research Reveals About Millennials.” Christianity Today. Retrieved from

Research Releases in Millennials & Generations (September 17, 2013). “5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church.” Retrieved from

Fry, R. (April 25, 2016). “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation.” Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Photo source: istock 

Bethany Macklin

Bethany Macklin is a writer, speaker and ministry leader who has served more than 25 years in Christian leadership. She has served as a regional leadership trainer for Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and as Women’s Ministry Director of a thriving church in Northern California. She writes Bible studies on God’s attributes for area churches and has written for Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, Today’s Christian Woman and other online outlets. As a blogger, she paints a Biblical portrait of God through words that encourage anchored faith and Biblical thinking.

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