Dad: “If you were on your own, not required to go to church, would you still go?”
Kids: “Probably not.”
The words of my teenage children stung in the core of my spirit. I immediately felt the need to chastise them for giving such a damning response but the Holy Spirit helped me push a bit further. When asked why they would not attend, the response from both stemmed from the thought of not being able to find a church that embraced them the way our church I pastored did so well.
Millennials (those born in the 80’s to the early 2000’s) are the topic of much discussion as churches try to figure out how to reach this young adult generation. Here is a list of areas of concern my own millennials helped me compile:
Authenticity. The saying, “keep it 100” is important to millennials. They are looking for a body of believers who are willing to be transparent, open, and honest, helping them discover how to integrate the word of God into their lives. They are looking for the word delivered in a manner that is applicable, understandable, and challenging. It took me awhile to realize that God’s scripture is always relevant, some sermons are not.
Acceptance. Millennials are a diverse group of people who are respectful of the church and wants the church to respect them as well. This group might look, worship, and interact differently than any other group, but they are saved, and ready to be used. They are on the front lines of change and inclusion.Millennials do not automatically discount others because of appearance, sexual orientation, or choices made. They are willing to be taught about the perfect will of God, but they key in on one of Jesus’ lessons in particular: love one another.
Activity. The church has to put millennials to work almost immediately. A long, detailed membership requirement before placement discourages this group. Millennials need meaningful, tangible projects and causes. They want to see the church in action, feeding, clothing, standing up for justice. An internally-focused church will lose millennials. Give them something to do!
Atmosphere. I’m going to go out on a limb and say atmosphere is the MAIN reason why churches are losing this group. Millennials want to attend a church that is not stuffy or stifling. They appreciate excellence in the music, the use of multimedia, and warmth when they walk in. They do not appreciate a 2-21/2, even 3 hour service. There are exceptions of course, but service has to be dynamic from start to finish to go that long. I am not a millennial and it is extremely difficult for me to sit through a service that is drawn out. Good rule of thumb: No one will complain about a worship service that is 90 minutes or less. But remember, even a shorter service has to be engaging.
What other tips would you include in working with millennials?