No doubt you’ve seen statistics about Millennials leaving the church in droves. If you happen to be a member of church leadership, you may have actually experienced the problem in your own congregation firsthand.
To re-engage Millennials who have left (or are preparing to leave) the church, you first need to understand how they see church differently than previous generations.
Less Complaining, More Serving
Believe it or not, Millennials aren’t dissatisfied with church — far from it. They are weary of seeing church leadership be more passionate about complaining than they are about teaching and serving. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, Millennials want you to focus on what we can do to help.
Millennials desire to be mentored, not simply “preached at.” If all they want is to hear a sermon, they have an untold number of preaching podcasts and radio shows at their fingertips. Instead, they want to be part of a community that works together to put serving others at the forefront.
Millennials Crave Authenticity
Millennials value honesty and authenticity above all else. They look up to leaders who tell the truth, admit to their shortcomings, and aren’t afraid to be transparent. If you want to capture a Millennial’s attention, be 100% yourself at all times.
Bottom line: Millennials can tell when you aren’t being up front and real with them. They aren’t impressed by those whose words are inconsistent with their actions. They are impressed with authentic expressions of faith.
Technology and Worship Aren’t in Conflict
Gone are the days when church leadership should assume the presence of a cell phone is indicative of not paying attention. With the high volume of Bible and note-taking apps, Millennials are as likely (or more) to use their phones during service as they are to open a physical Bible or to write with a pen and paper.
In the same way, Millennials are using mobile giving more and more to make donations to charities and causes they support. Many churches have adopted mobile giving as an option for that reason. Phones and worship can go hand-in-hand, if given the opportunity.
Do not fall into the assumption that a Millennial looking at a mobile device during church is ignoring you. It is highly likely that they are using a mobile giving app to make an offering, a Bible app to read along with scripture, or social media to share your message with their friends and followers.
Embrace Millennials’ Differences
It’s easy for those of us from older generations to roll our eyes at the behavior of young people as we remember “the good ol’ days.” However, that mentality will be ineffective if we want to bring the next generation back into the church. In fact, as the father of a teenage daughter, I think it’s more likely to do the opposite.
It’s more effective to pay attention to how the younger generations view their faith and take that into consideration as you plan your services, giving methods, and outreach. If you don’t reach out to them now, what will your attendance look like in 15 years?