From Interruption to Engagement with Millennials
A New Model
We recently posted a new model for churches who want to reach millennials. One part of that new model was a movement away from church as interruption to church as engagement. We suggested that churches, which intend to reach out to millennials, must commit to creating a message that says, “Don’t stop your life to come to church. Come to church as a part or even the basis of your life.”
Following this post, we had Billy Byler on the Burlap Podcast to talk about church as interruption versus engagement. He had some great insight on the podcast and put together some more thoughts on the subject to help churches go deeper with this shift.
TECHNOLOGY IN WORSHIP
- Turn your phone off when you’re in church
- Not talking about sound (when a phone goes off in church, it’s an old guy who doesn’t know how to silence his phone. Millennials know how to use their phones). I mean telling a Millennial to not look at their phone during church. Suddenly, you’ve interrupted life. What you’re really saying: stop the world.
- Allow online interaction to become part of the discussion.
- Utilize things like the YouVersion Bible app where your notes for the Bible study or sermon are posted on their in a live event and they can go to that app to get the scripture for the lesson and see articles and web sites referenced during the sermons, you can have hashtags that go along with the sermon series, if you’re discussing a difficult topic, they can submit questions they have about the topic and then it becomes an ongoing conversation.
SERMON/SMALL GROUP TOPICS
- Dated sermon topics and Bible study material.
- Sermon series on how to be good grandparents
- How to honor God in retirement.
- VHS study on the Promise Keepers’ movement of the 90s
- These are fine but not relevant to Millennials.
Let’s talk about relevant, meaningful issues and you don’t have to have all the perfect answers, but do have to be willing to talk about it.
- social justice
- Donald Trump
- Black Lives Matter
If you want to be a part of a church activity or event – a small group, church softball team, whatever – you have to be in attendance at church every Sunday morning. This comes from a mindset of artificially keeping attendance numbers up but it has nothing to do with caring for the spiritual growth in a person’s life and it strips those events – small groups, church softball – of it’s outreach potential.
Instead, here’s what I tell our young adults when it comes to forming a small group:
- Include 3-4 people who are church members, faithful attenders, really plugged in
- Include 3-4 people who are somehow part of the church but probably could benefit from being better plugged in
- Include 3-4 people who have no association with the church at all: neighbors, classmates, coworkers, parent from your kid’s soccer team, whatever. That’s outreach minded.
- Same thing with church softball or drama team or whatever.
- Viewing young adults as unskilled labor for the church
- “I’m going to hang out with my family this weekend, but you’re single, you don’t have kids, you don’t seem to have much to do. Why don’t you clean out the church van Saturday morning? Here’s the keys.”
- Or, “For the last 40 years we’ve put up Christmas decorations around our church the Sunday after Thanksgiving. But we’re all too old to do it now, so how about you guys spend and entire weekend climbing into the rafters of the church to hang Christmas lights and put up 14 Christmas trees in every wing and Sunday School room.”
- Partnership: “Let’s do this church task together. I think you could really help me here. Here’s why we’re doing it.” (could even lead to mentorship).
- Leadership: Don’t be afraid to put a young adult on the church board or turn him or her loose to start a new ministry. Don’t leave them out to dry, help them. Don’t micromanage but offer mentorship.