There is a movement in the church world today to make the church more seeker friendly for the young adult generation. Millennials, those born between 1981 – 2003, have turned their backs on the church, so the idea of drawing them back is a noble pursuit.
As much as churches want to draw millennials, some of the seeker friendly methods many churches are embracing might be driving young adults away from the church.
Here’s some things the church needs to consider as they craft a plan to attract Millennials.
Millennials want relationships.
In the past, relationships in the church were fostered through Sunday School, mid-week groups, and fellowships that included both age group and multigenerational activities. Many churches have ditched these activities. The thought behind this is that everyone is too busy. Large Sunday church services don’t foster these kind of relationships.
Some churches have divided the congregation up into age groups to the extreme where a child can go from birth to eighteen without ever getting to know the older saints in the church. So teens who do go to church all their lives, when they become adults and enter the adult sanctuary, feel left out and isolated and often leave.
Millennials need relationships. Churches that end Sunday School, midweek sessions and fellowships without offering some kind of small group replacement and opt for only large services on Sundays will drive away the very group they seek to draw.
Millennials want to participate.
In the past, church was mostly an event where everyone participated. They would sing in the choir, teach a class, help clean the church, or even if they didn’t do any of those things, they would sing along with the congregation and participate in other ways. Many seeker friendly churches today have ended some of these things to attract young adults.
Even the seeker friendly worship music and casual hip praise leaders can turn millennials off. These churches have ended praise choirs so that only the best singers and musicians can participate on stage. Then these churches will dim the lights, and blast the music to make it feel like a concert. Even then, if a millennial wants to participate by singing along, he’s discouraged by a soloist singing most of the lyrics with the praise team only joining in on the chorus. This makes him feel like he is interrupting the concert if he raises his voice.
Also testimonies and exuberant and participatory praise are no longer allowed in some churches because it might offend the very people who are looking for a way to be a part of the worship.
Many other positions where the millennial would have been able to participate are given to professionals like cleaning crews or are only given to older adults. Eighteen to thirty year olds are not allowed to teach or lead ministry where professionals are hired to do so. when it becomes more of a concert instead of a worship experience they can participate in.
Churches also avoid reaching outside of the church walls where millennials who are the volunteer generation would thrive. Their outreach tends to be mass mailing, TV, and newspaper ads instead of outreach millennials could join in.
Millennials are team oriented.
Most churches have a hierarchy of leadership that goes from the pastor, to the staff, then down to the congregation. The pastor, his staff, and his board make most of the decisions with no input from the congregation. Millennials are more team oriented. They want to share ideas and brainstorm about how to live out the Christian life in an effective way. The traditional hierarchy turns them off. Millennials like a more Acts Early Church type leadership.
Millennials aren’t impressed by the way we’ve always done things.
We can’t compromise on the Bible or what the Bible says sin is. If we do, we’ve made the church ineffective. But at the same time, some of our cultural rules aren’t in the Bible. Don’t look down on millennials for dressing casually or wanting to hang out and drink coffee before church. These are man-made traditions not Biblical statutes.
Millennials want something worth giving their lives for.
Many of the seeker friendly churches make discipleship too easy to attract millennials. These churches emphasize a loving God without holiness and a cheap grace without repentance. Basically all a member has to do is attend church once a week and raise his hand during an invitation to be saved.
There’s no talk about denying ourselves, discipleship, or taking the narrow road. Millennials crave discipleship. Millennials won’t attend church because they should. They won’t live right because they should. They want something that is worth living or dying for. They can find that through Jesus Christ, but they have to be shown He’s more than an historic figure that causes a social gathering once a week.
Biblical discipleship needs to be in the church if we want to attract a generation that would be willing to give their lives for the Gospel. Millennials don’t want to be lukewarm. They need the church to show them the way.