There is a universal struggle among 21st century churches to attract Millennials. In an age where only 2 out of 10 Millennials see the importance of church attendance, churches have their work cut out for them.
A recent study from The Barna Group and reported by Relevant Magazine examined what the “me generation” is looking for when it comes to worship. Here is what they found:
1.) Don't rely heavily on the demands of social media. It's pretty obvious that social media is used as a powerful tool in businesses, sports, politics and such. But there must be a careful and fragile approach to social media when it comes to the church.
Relevant Magazine reports:
“Oddly enough, head pastors shouldn’t worry about losing young congregants to the endless streams of information on Twitter and Instagram. The majority of young adults actually see church as a place refuge [sic] from a constantly-plugged-in existence.”
Social media is a good thing and it's very instrumental, but overusing it to the point where it takes away from the spiritual impact of a church service will cause Millennials to turn away.
2.) Be conscious of your rhetoric. Communication is everything. From Drew Dyck, Managing Editor of Leadership Journal:
“Let’s stop being shocked when our unbelieving neighbors fail to act like Christians and take a more winsome tone when we communicate the gospel.”
During my time as a minister, I've learned that we can talk about sensitive issues, but if we communicate it with viciousness, the message will be in vain.
3.) Be honest. People aren't particularly fond of being lied to, especially when it comes to the church. While it may appear to be safer to exaggerate some things, Millennials are skeptical of this method.
From Charisma News:
“As a whole, Millennials are not afraid of being passionately sold out for something. While they may be offended by some of Jesus' teachings, they wouldn't be the first ones, and they prefer a church that is passionate and authentic about what they believe. Millennials are more likely to be zealous for something that they believe matters than drawn in by something that feels lukewarm and non-threatening.”
Truth, though it may be hard and difficult to understand, will reign triumphant when it's all said and done.
4.) Provide an intergenerational presence. Older mentors and guides are beneficial to the well-being of a millennial.
From Church Leaders:
“Millennials deeply desire mentoring, learning, and discipleship. Many older leaders think Millennials aren’t interested in generational wisdom transfer. Not true at all. Younger leaders are hungry for mentoring and discipleship, so build it into your organizational environment.”
Generation Y can glean much insight and wisdom from more seasoned adults. The ability to meet the challenges of today's time will be greatly assisted by the experiences gained by previous generations.
5.) Keep politics out of the church. Politics can be highly divisive, and many Christians are politically active, but the last place that many want to hear about it is inside the church.
From CNN Belief Blog:
“We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.”
If Millennials wanted a viewpoint on politics, they can easily tune into the cable news network or tune in to a syndicated talk show. Churches must be cognizant of the fact that its sanctuaries are there to harbor Christianity and not to opine about trivial things.
If one thing can be drawn from these results, it's that Millennials don't see religious worship as they approach many other things. They're not as impressed by a fancy new app or a group where everyone is their age as they are by a place where people are honest, diverse and real.