Millennials and Church: Sacraments, Songs and Sermons
Nicholas Hahn, editor of RealClearReligion believes, according to this Red Alert Politics article that, “Many individuals are leaving the church because it has failed to fulfill their spiritual needs…usually this happens when churches become over-involved in politics from the pulpit and when churches attempt to be hip and relevant.”
According to the same Red Alert Politics article, the purpose of church isn’t entertainment or to discuss which candidate or issue to support, the church is to help sustain spiritual lives.
Millennials are quick to see through marketing pitches and other publicity stunts used to temporarily boost numbers. They desire authenticity at all levels and go to church because it is a sacred space to worship God and connect with others who readily admit their shortcomings. Want to see more millennials become interested in your church? Okay, then, be what millennials are looking for – the church, a people who worship in a sacred place of sacrament, song and sermon.
In an era of never-fast-enough, the radical message and work of the church is often overlooked because of attempts to be relevant through slick packaging and cheesy promotional tricks. “The medium is the message,” said communications expert Marshall McLuhan, and many churches simplify the message too much, hoping to keep tech-driven younger audiences engaged instead of sharing the whole story of God’s kingdom design which is to make all things new.
In her new book Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans wrote, “The sacraments are what make the church relevant. They don’t need to be repackaged or rebranded; they just need to be practiced, and explained by a loving and authentic community.”
Millennials are looking for authenticity and especially so when it comes to faith and spirituality. Millennials expect churches to teach and practice their faith not only on Sunday mornings, but every day of the week, everywhere you go. Teaching millennials to pray, to love their neighbors and enemies, to give to the needy around them by doing these practices of faith with them is the transformational work of the church.
Millennials seek an active faith, a faith that can help them learn, discover and grow. Churches that employ a leadership style of “come and watch us do faith” will turn away most millennials. How can your church do the work of church in partnership with millennials, sending them to live out their faith at home, in the workplace, and to the ends of the earth?
When millennials come to church, the church needs to be ready with a message that matters, a message of forgiveness, grace and love for all people, everywhere. A message that is authentic, loving and hopeful.