Jesus invited his disciples into experiences, He let them make decisions and take ownership in ministry, He constantly used imagery to convey Kingdom realities, and He allowed even frustrating connection and dialogue between the disciples.

Dr. Leonard Sweet coined the phrase “EPIC” generation when referring to millennials and generation Z.  It isn’t just a sweet nickname, it’s actually an acronym for the ideal ways to engage the students of today.  Detailed research and equipping is happening nationally to prepare schools, universities, and employers to adapt to this wave of young people entering the work-force and educational systems.  I particularly enjoy an organization called Growing Leaders and had a conversation recently with one of their authors, Andrew McPeak.  Andrew and I discussed some content that they are generating, as well as some keys to “reaching” the students of today.  In this article, I hope to explain what this EPIC generation is and how it can help you grow your church family in discipleship and mission.

In order to understand the EPIC generation of today, it’s important to understand the greater landscape of generational impact we face in our churches, workplaces, etc.   This chart below from BigArrowGroup does a great job contrasting the landscape of generations alive today.   

If you’re serious about building a church family that represents all age groups, you’d be well-advised to consider the significant differences and expectations each of these generations have when entering relationships and how the gospel is applied to each of them (that may be another article). 

When discussing the EPIC generation, we’re mainly alluding the Millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Z.  Depending on what study you look at, I’m essentially describing anyone born after about 1982 or so.  EPIC stands for:

E – Experiential

Students today need to be invited into something.  They long to experience learning, not just hear about it or be lectured about it.  In fact, when lectured, they’re more likely to miss most of what is said.  Students need mentors where it’s “caught more than it’s taught.”  The more we can create environments or opportunities to experience a value or concept being taught, the more likely they will be to absorb the learning.  Sports are naturally experiential learning.

Implementation Example: Teaching listening skills by utilizing a “talking stick” or “the conch” from Lord of the Flies.  Or putting a student on the hot seat and they tell their story but other students can only ask questions until the student sharing feels heard and understood.

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