3 Ways the Church Can Reach Millennials
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials have recently overtaken baby boomers as America’s largest generation. At the same time, millennials are also the generation that is most rapidly leaving the church.
“Unfortunately I think their view [of the church] is one of hypocrisy, where we’re preaching about grace and mercy but it’s not being demonstrated,” said Kent Gregory, youth pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Virginia.
While it is not this way for every congregation, many churches are facing tension from their young adults. They are not in youth group anymore, but they are also not fully established in their careers or families.
What are some ways to genuinely reach this age group who is unsure if church is really for them?
1. Challenge them
Millennials are the most educated generation in history, and yet are often labeled as lazy, entitled, and unmotivated. Because of this, churches may try to sugar coat hard topics.
“I believe people rise to the expectation that is set for them. We too often try to appease and entertain,” Gregory said.
At this stage in their life, growth is happening in nearly every area imaginable. From graduating college to building families, they are changing and learning from their experiences. Spiritual growth should be no exception and this is where the church has the opportunity to step in.
Set high standards for the young people in your church and do not be afraid to tell them difficult truths.
2. Set the example
As mentioned above, hypocrisy is a big reason why millennials are leaving the church. When a less-than-perfect pastor is telling them to get their act together, it can be hard to take seriously.
“Habits are going to be caught from seeing the impact it makes in our lives and not from just being told to do it,” Gregory said.
By showing young adults the way Christ affects them and genuinely living to serve Him, a Christian’s testimony will have a powerful impact on millenials’ view of the Church. It is important to be honest about how difficult it can be to follow Christ, but also encourage them by sharing why it is worth it to persevere.
3. Show them the power of prayer
Millennials are facing challenges and issues society has never seen before, and with that comes confusion and doubt.
“If ever there was a time for us to be in tune to what God is saying, it’s now,” Gregory said. “Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship and if you want a relationship with God you have to have communication.”
Make the benefits of prayer simple and clear to your young people. In the secular world prayer is often seen as an abstract force whose effect can never truly be felt. Personal testimonies are powerful and being vulnerable about experiences can speak volumes.
When it comes down to it, being genuine and honest with young adults can greatly impact their outlook on Christianity as a whole. By offering millennials the chance to take ownership of their faith, the Church can facilitate the opportunity for actual life change and long lasting commitment.