3 Reasons Millennials Aren’t Coming to Your Church

You do more “show” than service

For the last decade or so, the church has sought to produce a show each and every week. The truth is that this worked for a previous generation that was fed up with tradition steeped in inauthentic rituals. They were eager for something that more resembled what they’d get at a concert or on the radio.

Things have shifted. For millennials today, it’s not hard to find a good show or good music. Go to youtube, open up the music app on your smartphone and great sounding music isn’t far away. The “show” is no longer the winner. What millennials want is authenticity… or at least the appearance of such. They can see when something is too staged, but also want it to be good and comparable to those things they see elsewhere. No longer can we just turn down the house lights, turn up the spots, and tell people to come. It has to be more than that. It has to be real. It can’t be too rehearsed that it’s sterile and leaves no room for emotion.

You forget about excellence

Real is good, bad is not. As I referenced above, millennials want authenticity, but they also want quality. Just because someone can sing and worship authentically doesn’t mean they can do it well. Millennials want both. Don’t sacrifice one for the other or you’ll miss the target. Sure, you can get by with being somewhat “fly by the seat of your pants,” but be sure it’s good.

They can’t find anyone like them

One of the key reasons millennials aren’t at your church may be because the few that you do have are never seen. I get it. They’re young. They think they know a lot, but you’re not sure. You still have to give them input and a presence in your body. You don’t have to give them the keys to the building, but other young people want to see young people in a place of leadership within you church. They want to see that people like them and people that they’re likely to have a relationship with can have influence and hold a key role.

I’ve heard it said many times that, if you don’t give a leader something to do, they’ll find something elsewhere. Unfortunately, churches have long failed to give young people real and meaningful work. They’ve found it elsewhere. Promote the young people. Trust them to the most extent you think you can. Let them surprise you and let them be seen by their peers.

Your turn. What’s your experience with leading millennials? I’d love to hear.

4 Comments

  1. We’re now living in a time where the court of public opinion is more visible than ever and is often unaligned with Christian ideals. At church, I know I’ll hear some counter-popular culture ideas and I want to hear them. However, the tone, delivery, and style of the message is so important. Leaders who preach in a “this is how it is and this is what we as Christians must believe” way make me feel like I’ll be an outcast if I voice a belief that doesn’t gel with what the church is promoting. I want to feel like I belong, not like if I show who I really am and what I really think I’m going to be shunned. Additionally, I like sermon series that connect over the weeks. I know it’s tempting to talk about the hot topic that on everyone’s news feeds that week. My pastor holds a coffee circle on Monday nights where you can go and ask him anything or voice any opinion you want. I think some pastors, church leaders, and even just Christians in general should take a lesson in the socratic method. Encourage newcomers to read the Bible and then ask for their interpretations. If we genuinely ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts while we interpret what we read, a pastor does not need to be force feeding their interpretation to us.

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  2. Also wanted to note, it’s especially important to emphasize that you belong at church and to encourage small groups and friendships to form when you are preaching something that’s going to make your members really really not fit in or feel like they belong with the general population (many of whom are friends and coworkers of members that they’ll be interacting with for most of the week).

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