Millennials have been a frequent topic of conversation in many churches. Most often, the conversation revolves around struggling with how to cater to and create a space for millennials within already established church cultures.
New research conducted in partnership with Barna Group and Cornerstone Knowledge Network (Making Space for Millennials: A Blueprint for Your Culture, Ministry, Leadership and Facilities) shares the impact millennials’ perspectives on shared values, allegiances, and assumptions have on your church as you integrate and create space for their ideas and influence.
Below are a few questions to consider as you seek to integrate and appeal to this unique group:
Is our church authentic?
Millennials are looking for authenticity and realness in connection and messaging when they visit a church. They are interested in hearing a message they can relate to and apply to their own lives. They want to connect with and see themselves in whoever is leading their church, rather than seeing their pastor as someone who is unreachable and untouchable. Gone are the days of having a “perfect” leader. More than ever, millennials are seeking transparency and realness.
If you look at social media trends today—especially with platforms like Snapchat and Periscope, which feature live, raw, “real life,” for the world to see—this can give you some insight into the culture of millennials. Transparency, honesty, and relatability within a church will go far in retaining this audience.
Does our church embrace new media and tech trends?
Have you jumped on the technology bandwagon? While most churches have been slow to adopt and embrace new tech trends, this is an essential aspect of drawing in and keeping millennials engaged at your church. And given the widespread use of technology amongst millennials, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using video, social media, or your website to engage with and interact with this group.
Millennials spend hours on social media daily. They surf the web, watch YouTube videos, and engage in other forms of digital communication throughout the day. It’s important to engage with millennials not only through church services and activities, but on off days as well. This is becoming an increasingly important sector and area of increased engagement for many churches.
And yet, embracing new media and tech trends means more than just creating a Facebook account for people to “like,” or creating a website just to post your service times and activities. It’s become more of a necessity to create intentional strategies to reach churchgoers through various social media channels and web-based media. Investing in this area of your church, therefore, is essential to reaching today’s digital generation.
Does our church create a space for rest?
Most churches are focused on engaging millennials with more volunteer activites, more small groups, more church events—without focusing on the church as a place of rest and peace—a place where we can lay down our burdens and connect with God on a deeper level.
As noted in the Barna Group Study (Chapter 4: Facilities):
“Our churches are places of action, not places of rest; spaces to do rather than spaces to be. The activities, of course, are designed to connect people with God and each other—and some Millennials hope for that, too—but many just want an opportunity to explore spiritual life on their own terms, free to decide for themselves when to stay on the edges of a church experience and when to fully enter in.”
Our culture is often fast-paced and fragmented, with few opportunities to truly lay down our worries, anxieties, and fears—and rest. How are you creating (or will you create) intentional space for rest and reflection in your church to meet this need for millennials?