HOW TO: Engage with Millennials in Your Church
in Communication / 07 May 2018
According to a study conducted by Barna Group, 59% of millennials raised in churches have dropped out. And here are the possible reasons why:
- 35% of millennials believe that the church is irrelevant and hypocritical.
- Two out of 10 unchurched millennials think that God is missing in churches.
- One out of 10 senses that genuine doubt is prohibited in churches.
While these statistics are not an indication of any church’s personality, they do show us that the youth have a negative impression of churches, which needs to change. So, what steps can churches like yours take to bridge the divide? Keep reading for nine valuable tips that can help you engage better with the youth in your church.
1. ADDRESS THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
Today’s generation does not shy away from asking tough questions such as “who is God?”, “why should we trust the Bible?” or “how do we know that the Bible is true?” Does your church encourage these skeptical questions? If not, you need to start!
Perhaps you can draw inspiration from Connexus Church in Canada that started a series called Skeptics Wanted. This 9-part series focused on inviting people to ask their toughest questions about Christianity and answering them. “Rather than trying to ‘slam dunk’ every argument with Christian evidence, we wanted this series to be an invitation into a deeper dialogue,” says Carey Nieuwhof, the pastor of the church.
How will your church initiate a dialogue with the youth in your community and address the tough questions?
2. DISCUSS ISSUES SPECIFIC TO THE YOUTH
If your church family comprises different age groups, you need to take the time to address issues that are unique to the youth. While using the pulpit for this purpose is not ideal, you can turn to alternative platforms – such as social media, e-mails or vlogs – to discuss topics relevant to the youth.
Considering that vlogs reach 50% of those between the ages of 16 and 34, vlogging would be your best bet to reach a majority of the youth. So, identify the pain points of the youth in your church and use vlogs to minister to them. If you’re new to vlogging, check out this blog post on Why Your Church Needs to Start Vlogging Right Away.
3. MENTOR THE YOUTH INSTEAD OF PREACHING TO THEM
Did you know that almost 9 out of 10 millennials who drop out of church never have mentors at church? It’s no wonder that Pastor Carey Nieuwhof points out that “millennials are asking church leaders who they are… far more than they’re asking what they’ll do”.
Therefore, it’s crucial that ministry leaders like you work towards building a relationship with the youth in your church. Take the time to invest in their lives apart from the usual meet-and-greet on Sunday mornings.
In addition, you will need to train your members to become mentors. This will not only help you create a safe place for the youth, but also cultivate a culture of mentorship. After all, 28% of millennials who stay in church have an adult mentor other than their pastor.
4. CREATE SMALL GROUPS IN YOUR CHURCH
Do the youth in your church feel connected with the community? Do they have close friendships with other church members? If you’re pausing to give an answer, it’s highly likely that the millennials are unhappy with their experience in church. After all, “the most positive church experiences among millennials are relational” according to David Kinnaman, the President of Barna Group.
One great way your church can help the youth feel accepted is by creating small groups for them. Justin Lathrop, Ministry Partner of Vanderbloemen Group, says that millennials are looking for “a safe place to work through issues”. Well, your small groups can be just the safe haven the youth are seeking!
5. CONDUCT MORE COMMUNITY-BASED ACTIVITIES
Social responsibility is high on any millennial’s list. In fact, 47% of young Christians think that their church should be more involved in fighting extreme poverty. What’s more, 45% say that they would give more to their church if it were more involved with poverty alleviation.
Is your church involved in several community-based activities? If not, you’re giving the impression that you don’t care about the community outside your church walls.
So, take the initiative and kick-start more programs to help the community around your church. This will not only expand your church’s outreach efforts, but also help change its perception among the youth.
6. CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM TO SERVE
Carol Lytch in her book Choosing Churches points out that millennials who felt that their skills were being developed through service or leadership opportunities were more likely to stay engaged in the youth ministry. So, empower the youth in your church by involving them in leadership roles.
This will not only help them plug into the church community, but also make them feel accepted. How often does your church create avenues for the youth to serve in?
7. GET “SOCIAL” ONLINE
Having a social media presence is non-negotiable when it comes to engaging with the youth. So, how can church leaders like you tap into this potent medium to connect with the youth? First, you need to identify the right channel for your church.
Given that 33% of people rated Facebook as their favourite social networking channel, engaging on this platform would be a good way to start. You can also consider tapping into Instagram and Snapchat as 22% voted for the former and 16% chose the latter as their top channel. Check out 5 Ways Your Church Needs to Use Social Media to leverage these channels.
While engaging on these channels, you need to be real and authentic in your conversations. Remember that your social media profile can stand out as a powerful testimony of Christ’s love and power in your life. Click here for more tips that can help you engage well on social media.
8. MAKE YOUR CHURCH AVAILABLE ONLINE
In an age where the Internet is the go-to place for information, it’s no surprise that 56% of young adults check out a church online before visiting one. Does your church show up on search engine results? If not, it might be because you either don’t have a website or the website you have is not optimised for search engines.
If your church does not have a church website up and running, you need to invest in setting up one right away. Check out 12 compelling statistics to understand why having a website is an absolute must today.
However, if you have a website that is not SEO friendly, you need to take steps to optimise your website. You can start with simple changes such as identifying and integrating keywords into your content, titles and meta description. You can get all the details on how to optimise your websites for search engines here.
9. INCORPORATE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IN YOUR MINISTRY
It’s a known fact that millennials constantly integrate technology into their lives. Take a look at these statistics:
- 70% of young adults read Scripture on phones, tablets or online.
- 59% say they browse for spiritual content on the Internet.
- 38% cross-check statements made by church leaders in sermons, blogs or other places.
- 70% of millennials prefer to donate online.
These numbers stress the need for churches to embrace digital technology. You can start doing so by incorporating Bible apps in small groups, integrating digital giving options and using social media for outreach. This will surely break stereotypes of the church being old-fashioned and help you close the gap with the youth.
The gap between the youth and church has been vast for many years. However, we hope that this blog post helps you make changes to close the gap.
We have one more resource to offer you. Our e-book – 50 Common Mistakes on Church Websites – will help you identify and rectify grave errors that may be preventing your website from functioning at its best. So, download your free copy below and take steps to transform your website.
If you liked this post, you might also like these:
4 min read
5 min read
5 min read