From the depths of my heart, I want to love church.
I desperately want to feel this way about church, but I don’t. Not even a little bit. In fact, like much of my generation, I feel the complete opposite.
- Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
- 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
- 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
- Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).
IS ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?
Where is the task-force searching for the lost generation? Where is the introspective reflection necessary when 1/3 of a generation is ANTI-CHURCH?
1. Nobody’s Listening to Us
- Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
- Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
- Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.
2. We’re Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements
- Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, it’s overly-religious and much too complicated.
- We’re not impressed with the hours you brag about spending behind closed doors wrestling with Christianese words on a paper. We’re impressed with actions and service.
3. Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority
- Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
- Survey your members asking them what injustice or cause God has placed on their hearts. Then connect people who share similar passions. Create space for them to meet and brainstorm and then sit back and watch what God brings to life.
- Create group serve dates once a month where anyone can show up and make a difference (and, oh yeah, they’ll also meet new people).
4. We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture
- Put the end times rhetoric to rest and focus on real solutions and real impact in our immediate community.
- Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture. (If this teaching isn’t happening in your life, check out the book Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel)
5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” Affect
- Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service.
- Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
- Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.
6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources
We want pain-staking transparency. We want to see on the church homepage a document where we can track every dollar.
- Go out of your way to make all financial records readily accessible. Earn our trust so we can give with confidence.
- Create an environment of frugality.
- Move to zero-based budgeting where departments aren’t allocated certain dollar amounts but are asked to justify each purchase.
- Challenge church staff to think about the opportunity cost. Could these dollars be used to better serve the kingdom?
7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At
For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history.
- Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
- Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.
8. We Want to Feel Valued
We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.
- Return to point #1: listening.
- Go out of your way to thank the people who are giving so much of their life to the church.
9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)
- Create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable.
- Create an opportunity for young adults to find and connect with mentors.
- Create a young adults program that transitions high school youth through late adulthood rather than abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
- Intentionally train young adults in how to live a godly life instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.
10. The Public Perception
- Call the local government and schools to ask what their needs are. (See: Service Day from #3)
- Find ways to connect with neighbors within the community.
- Make your presence known and felt at city events.
11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless You’re Actually Going to Do Something)
- Stop speaking in abstract sound bites and make a tangible plan for how to reach millennials.
- If you want the respect of our generation, under-promise and over-deliver.
12. You’re Failing to Adapt
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzo Okakaura
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” – H.G. Wells
- Look at the data and take a risk for goodness sake. We can’t keep trying the same things and just wish that millennials magically wander through the door.
- Admit that you’re out of your element with this generation and talk to the millennials you already have before they ask themselves, what I am still doing here.