Last month, I wrote about the uses of Text Messaging I had seen this year, especially for Q&A at the end of a message. This could be a fairly easy adaptation for many college ministries, and, though less simple, could even be incorporated into “big church” or a Christian college’s chapel – with potential huge success.
You can read about that method here, and I’ll try not to rehash that info as I expand on that idea. (If you haven’t read it, these posts will make more sense if you do.)
Why would this Q&A-via-text-message method be successful these days? I wanted to offer some thoughts on how Q&A sessions and text messaging connect with Millennials, so I plan to do that over a few posts this week. And then I’ll even add some other uses for text messaging that I’ve seen.
(After that first post, my buddy Erin pointed me to Mark Driscoll’s “Greatest Hits” from his own post-sermon Q&A sessions. Mars Hill Seattle is one of the places I had seen this in action, and it’s neat that he’s put this out there for everybody. The mp3 is right here.)
Now, on to why Question-and-Answer sessions of all kinds connect with members of the Millennial Generation.
The openness factor. Allowing for questions adds the “aura of openness,” and that’s a big deal for lots of younger people – including both Gen Xers and Millennials. While many churches have not often played by this principle, young adults and students can consciously and subconsciously “kick against the goads” of a closed organization. So even simple gestures – like providing opportunities to ask pertinent (or even unrelated) Qs of a pastor, minister, or speaker – can go a long way.
The participation factor. In the 90s we were “choosing our own adventure” in books; now Millennials are choosing their own adventure in life. They want all the decisions we can give them, and Q&A is one of those small opportunities. They get to pick the topic, if only for 5 minutes, and that’s empowering, right?
The authenticity factor. Authenticity is HUGE for Millennials – far more, it seems, than a “slick” or “packaged” presentation. And if there’s anything true about Q&As, it’s that they’re rarely “slick”…
As I think about it, Q&A sessions can reveal authenticity in FOUR ways:
- First, even allowing for questions means the presenter and his material aren’t just paper-thin; he’s confident enough in the authenticity of the message to allow for questions.
- Second, questions allow people to poke and prod, testing for themselves just how authentic a teaching or teacher is.
- Third, providing solid answers to people’s burning questions will “fill in the cracks” that a teacher might have unintentionally left. At least some lingering concerns get answered, which obviously adds to the authenticity of the thesis.
- Fourth, the way someone handles questions – with humble confidence when wise answers are available, and with humble honesty when one is unsure – lend credence to the teacher. Saying an answer is your “best guess” or “first thought” is okay; giving an answer that is untrue, unwise, or inauthentic isn’t.
One last note. Remember, I’ve seen several Q&A sessions following a church service or other large-group gathering, not just in small-group situations. This is really and truly possible, and it can be very well-received (and not just among “kids”).
So there you have it. My own “first thoughts” and “best guesses” on why Question-and-Answer sessions can help with Millennials. Any questions?
Written from the Orlando area