Original Research

Who are the disciples? Identity perceptions about millennials and the church

Johannes J. Knoetze
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1718 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1718 | © 2017 Johannes J. Knoetze | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 January 2017 | Published: 27 July 2017

About the author(s)

Johannes J. Knoetze, Department of Theology, North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, South Africa


This article specifically focusses on understanding the discipleship process of the millennial generation (15–35 years of age) in Africa. The millennial generation is the largest population group in Africa, with more than 200 million individuals in Africa. Focussing on developing a disciple identity with African millennials from a missional ecclesiology, the question attended to is: What is the church’s perception of the identity of these African millennials and how can the church disciple them? Discipleship is understood as to engage with people to discover their true identity and vocation in God. Discipleship takes place on three different levels according to the modern worldview: the spiritual world (Gospel-as-word), the seen world (Gospel-as-deed) and the excluded middle (Gospel-as-sign). These distinctions have, for example, the implication that discipling is located not only at the church but also in the world. Millennials are motivated as much by their personal relationships and human connections as they are by the influences of their technological skills, social media and group pressure. It is observed in this article that millennials are currently discipling the world in different ways. Therefore, four suggested steps are discussed for the churches to involve millennials in their discipleship programmes.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: It is believed that this article has definite intra- and interdisciplinary implications. Although this article is written from a missiological departure, it also covers other theological disciplines like Practical Theology and Youth work. It also includes articles from communications and sociology and would make valuable contributions to the field of, especially, sociology as well as anthropology.


Millennials; Identity; Discipleship


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Crossref Citations

1. Diaconiaas a sustainable form of transformation and development amongst emerging adults in a globalised South Africa
Hannes Knoetze
Practical Theology  vol: 12  issue: 2  first page: 208  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1080/1756073X.2019.1597489