Connecting with Experience-driven Millennials
Millennials seek out experiences…and evidence is easy to find.
I’ve witnessed thousands of millennials standing shoulder to shoulder for hours to watch the Women’s World Cup Final at the Power and Light District in Kansas City, Missouri. I know of at least a dozen millennials who would gladly spend the extra dough for a meet and greet with a favorite musician before a concert – for some it is solely for the purpose of posting on their media feeds! Other millennials can be seen camping in line for days for the outside chance to be a contestant on American Ninja Warrior. Millennials seek out experiences. In what way can your church create meaningful experiences?
Tamera Darden wrote of the experience-seeking drive of millennials and their “insatiable appetite to try everything.” This same drive, she contends, can create problems when it comes to finishing what they’ve started. Many times, millennials will begin a project and then get distracted by something else, simply because of its novelty. To encourage consistency and seeing a project through to completion, Darden suggests millennials should intentionally reflect on their passions, consider the big picture, and never quit.
When the church thinks and acts like an institution, where membership and maintenance are the focus of most projects, it is easy for millennials to become inattentive and lose interest in such projects. Understandably, if anything else captures their imagination, most will quickly abandon the scene and move on to what might be more interesting or meaningful.
I find that too often churches appear to be more worried about continuing a tradition than seeking change that will more faithfully engage God’s great story of redemption, hope, and transformation. Most millennials will quickly become uninterested in a small vision that is intended to simply maintain what has always been done. In what ways are you giving millennials a grand vision that inspires and challenges them to engage with a deep sense of passion and commitment?
The church can be a fantastic community to provide significant experiences, connecting millennials to new friends of all ages. The church can also be a catalyst as it seeks to live out the kingdom virtues of Jesus. This will give millennials a sense of meaning, purpose and hope.
Millennials need the opportunity to contribute to Kingdom of God through their passions, to use their creative energies as part of their ongoing faith formation. Merely occupying a building at a certain time each week is not enough to keep millennials interested or feeling engaged in doing kingdom work. Churches who strictly are trying to develop new programs to get millennials through the door will fail miserably. Churches that seek to partner with millennials in finding new and creative ways to connect with new friends to share in God’s great story of redemption will have a greater chance at being effective.
When millennials hear the word “church” it is likely that many of them immediately think of a building. The church, on the other hand, is the people of God who seek to share the fullness of life and live out the radical hope of the gospel together. Those of you church leaders who find yourself in the “building” most of your time must find ways to go out of the building and engage the heart of millennials. What are three places that you could go in your community this week to engage in conversation with millennials?