According to Pew Research, this is the year that Millennials will surpass the Baby Boom generation as the largest living population in the United States. It’s a population we want and need to engage. So let’s begin by defining who, exactly, is a Millennial? According to Pew, the oldest Millennial was born in 1981.
Millennials were the first generation to grow up with personal computers in their home, internet, and social media. They were the first generation for whom Facebook, Twitter, smartphones and online dating seemed perfectly natural. And, with the rapidly changing technological landscape a constant part of their background, Millennials are a highly adaptive and innovative generation.
I’ve never heard a church say, “We don’t really care about Millennials,” but I have seen churches that put little effort toward making their church Millennial-friendly.
The smartest churches are figuring out how to engage this young, busy, and powerful generation. By that, I certainly don’t mean that churches need to dilute the gospel or invest in the newest and fanciest facilities. In fact, in our work helping hundreds of churches with effective team-building, we have found quite the opposite to be true! Millennials are the most cause-driven and social justice-aware generation of all. They are hungry for truth and authenticity.
Here are four ways I believe the smartest churches are effectively engaging Millennials.
1. Their church staff has intentional age diversity
One of the fastest ways to tell if your church is engaging Millennials is to pull up the staff page on your church website. Is your church staff multi-generational with Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials represented in leadership positions? You will only build a multigenerational church if you have a multigenerational staff. So before you ask yourself if your church is Millennial-friendly, ask yourself if your church staff is Millennial-friendly.
2. They create an authentic experience
Millennials want more than just a good sermon on Sundays. They are looking for an authentic experience. With the rise of the internet and digital media, Millennials are more saturated in advertising than any other generation. They’re skeptical enough to ask “What’s the catch?” because they are accustomed to bait-and-switch marketing tactics.
Growing churches have pastors and church staff who are authentic and able to intentionally connect emotionally to their congregation. Churches that can build trust through authentic relationships will successfully engage with Millennials.
3. They meet Millennials where they are
Millennials are accustomed to a transient and on-demand culture of Netflix, iMessage, and Amazon Prime. They are busier than ever, constantly consuming multi-media content. Make it easy for Millennials to stay connected through a church app or by live-streaming your services and podcasting the latest sermon.
Additionally, leverage social media to engage with Millennials. Have a social media manager on staff whose responsibility is not only to relay the latest church news but also to interact with church members on Twitter by saying things like, “Looks like today was tough. We’re praying for you!” or “We missed you this week! Hope to see you next week.”
4. They have vision, vision, vision!
Millennials care about changing the world, and they want to be a part of organizations that are making a difference. As pastor and church leader, the single most important thing you can do to engage with Millennials is cast the vision of how your church is changing the world through the love of Jesus. Every single ministry, service, outreach activity, and staff meeting should be full of vision for why it matters. Vision provides clarity, direction, and buy-in from your church community, and the more you infuse every part of your church with vision, the more Millennial engagement you will see.
Millennials are looking for hope and they crave truth. Your church has the opportunity to reach this impressionable generation with the love of Christ as you build your ministry to intentionally engage Millennials.