While church attendance as a whole has seen a dip in recent years, Barna found that the number of unchurched millennials has grown from 44% to 52% in the last decade.
In an effort to appeal to the millennial population, many churches are switching up worship styles, changing service formats, and adding coffee shops. And then there are the pastors donning tattoos and a soul patch to appear relatable. Some go so far as softening their stance on hot button issues to seem more approachable and welcoming. But even that doesn’t seem to keep them around for the long haul.
Take it from a millennial—you don’t need to water down the gospel or change your identity to be accessible to that generation. But you can make a few small changes to your processes to make it easier for them to get plugged in and grow:
1. Website Presence
Whether they hear about your church from a friend or a flyer in Starbucks catches their eye, millennials will go online to learn more about your church before visiting. Once they get there, what will they find? Is your website responsive and user-friendly? Can they find the information they need like service times and what to expect? If millennials discover an outdated website, they may never give your church a chance.
2. Social Media
Is your church on social media? While not every platform is right for every church, these networks are where millennials spend a bulk of their time. Find the ones that work best for your unique situation and start engaging.
Millennials are relational. If they go to a church for six months but still slip out each Sunday unnoticed, there’s a good chance they won’t stick around much longer. Have you made it easy for them to find and sign up for a small group? Age-based groups are great for introducing millennials to others at the same stage of life, but don’t overlook the value of mentorship and intergenerational fellowship.
4. Service Opportunities
Most millennials have grandiose dreams of changing the world and leaving a lasting mark. While some of these goals seem lofty, unlikely even, churches should provide opportunities for them to get involved and serve. Is your church focused on missional ministry? Have you made it easy for millennials—and the rest of your church—to find service opportunities?
5. Media Center
According to Barna, 31% of all millennials watch videos online pertaining to their faith and 30% search for spiritual content online. Have you made content like sermon series and further study materials accessible from your website? You could even reach millennials across the country with video resources in your Media Center.
6. Giving Options
Along with the desire to make a difference through service, most millennials want to contribute financially to causes and organizations they care about. But a lot of them don’t carry cash and have never written a check. The option to donate online, through mobile, or at a giving kiosk—and to the fund of their choosing—will appeal to millennials who only carry plastic.
Do you consider who you’re trying to reach before determining which communication method to use? Each situation will be different, but a quick text, Facebook update, or brief email is usually best for reaching millennials who are glued to their smartphones at all times.
Millennials can do just about anything on their iPhones now—look up Scripture, pay bills, interact with friends and family. So they’ve come to expect this kind of flexibility in every area of life. Your church can adjust to this shift toward mobile through a church app that allows millennials to register and pay for events, access a church directory, or listen to the latest sermon audio.
When you’re trying to engage millennials, it’s important to stay current with technology trends in order to be relevant. It’s not about getting the pastor into a pair of skinny jeans or changing the message. Millennials want transparency and authenticity. Don’t change who you are as a church or a pastor—just find ways to incorporate their expectations into your processes.
Check out some other great resources on reaching millennials:
Image credits: istockphoto.com