Millennials Want Authenticity from the Church, Above All Else

A few nights ago I hosted a dinner with some of the millennials from our church.  I simply wanted to listen and learn from them.  Most millennials want to contribute to something bigger than them and the ones hanging around and deeply engaged – wherever they are on the spectrum – in our church, are eager to help us live into our purpose of building a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed.  

I asked three questions and here is what I learned:

Question # 1: What do you think is the number one thing your friends would want to find in our church if they came?  

Response: Authenticity – just be who you are meant to be and let that speak for itself.  Also, don’t try so hard to try and reach young adults.  Let what you stand for be what you are trying to attract people toward.  

Question # 2:  Is it important that our church be known for what it is doing to make the world and our community a better place?

Response: An emphatic yes!  Behind authenticity this should be the second most important narrative of the church.  One woman said, “If my friends came to a worship service and the needs of the world were never mentioned, they wouldn’t come back.  They’d be nice to me about it, but they’d always find an excuse not to come back with me.”

Question # 3: What is the story being told about our church that I might not ever hear?  

Response: Two key responses were given to this question. 1) The classes and growth opportunities our church offers are boring.  2) It is really hard to share my ideas for how we might make a difference in the community.

It can hurt.  The truth, that is.  However, not asking the questions that may have the key to unlocking reaching millennials in your community is just foolish.  At what point this week will you make it a priority to sit down and ask the millennials in your church what they think, feel and desire?  Don’t have millennials in your church?  Look around your community, find some willing participants and ask them a revised version of the questions above.  I think you’ll be glad you did.  I think the people you ask will be glad you did too.