While today’s churches have failed millennials in various ways, it’s not too late to successfully impact the next generation. God is clearly working to raise up young people who are serving Him. The following 10 recommendations identify how churches can better reach and engage our millennial generation.
Most of us realize that the church is not a building, but the people of God gathered for worship. This gathering can occur at a coffee table or in a cathedral. When we narrowly define church as “the group that meets on Sunday morning at a certain address,” we limit the people we reach.
Put People First
To successfully reach the next generation, we must focus on reaching people, not getting people into a building or program. We must be willing to find out the needs and interests of those we seek to reach and work accordingly. We don’t need to compromise our message, but we might need to compromise some traditions along the way to make an impact.
Start Where They Are
Instead of inviting young adults to attend your Sunday service, go to your local college campus and give out free pizza. A few recruited young adults play some music, a crowd gathers, and a few people share stories of how Jesus changed your lives. Repeat for the entire school year, and see how many lives are changed. This principle also works at your office (if allowed), in serving the homeless–and who knows where else? Maybe you have an idea?
Translate Your Message
Many Americans believe the saying, “God helps those who help themselves,” is found in the Bible. (Just to be clear, it’s not!) They are likely to believe in karma and reincarnation as they are to know the real reason for Christmas or the names of even half of the twelve disciples. We must start at the beginning and explain why the Christian message is important for today. And, our message needs to contain the full counsel of Scripture.
Accept Millennials as Family
Imagine what would happen if every person who visited your church on Sunday received a handshake or hug from every person he or she met? What if every new person was invited to sit by not just one, but five or six or seven different people? Accept millennials as family and they will be family.
Many of the highly creative millennials in your community would pitch in and serve if you gave them a compelling reason to do so. We can no longer be afraid to hand over a project to a twentysomething because he or she “might not be mature enough.” If we’re honest, we weren’t mature enough when we started either.
Mentor Each Millennial
The process of mentoring will be more caught than taught. When pastors and church leaders and people in every Bible class share about those they are mentoring, others will want to get involved.
Help Millennials with Everyday Life Skills
Skills taken for granted in past generations often are foreign to today’s youth. Without the influence of a father, many young men do not know how to interact with other men or how to properly behave toward women. Some millennials have successful learned these skills, but many have not. What could your church’s congregation do to offer help with basic life skills?
Include Millennials in Leadership Decisions
If a church wants to reach millennials, it’s important to include millennials in decision making. We can’t assign decisions to the older generation and successfully address the needs of the next generation. We must include those we wish to reach.
Send Out Millennial Missionaries
It may seem paradox, but to reach millennials, we must plan to release them. Often what attracts young people is the chance to tackle a big challenge. There is little appeal in sitting through music and a lecture on a Sunday morning. But send them into a local juvenile center to serve among incarcerated youth? Now you have their attention. Help with a winter shelter in subzero temperatures to save lives? Finally, something that sounds interesting!
Think about it. You may have the next Billy Graham or Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr. in your community. You don’t know it yet, but creating and supporting compelling ministry opportunities may be the missing ingredient your church needs to call out the next generation of leaders.
Learn more about why millennials are walking away and how you can lead them home HERE.