20 Things Millennials Will Say to the Church Part 4
The last few weeks we’ve done some forward thinking to help us gain some perspective on millennials and the church. We looked at 20 things millennials will say to the church in 20 years that we can begin addressing now. Here are the first 4, 5-8, 9-12 and now 13-16:
13. “You misunderstood our currency. We were strapped with college debt and held lower paying jobs to try and pay for it. Our currency wasn’t money. Our currency was time.”
Millennials, most of them anyway, do not have much money to give. They do, however, have time, and they don’t mind at all giving it away. The invitation to give to a project or building campaign, or whatever will do one of two things. It will either 1) make them feel bad for not having any money or 2) create a dissonance with them as they are not driven by what has driven most Xers and many Boomers – material belongings, capital assets, etc.
One of the best ways we can make sure that Millennials do not make this comment to us in the future is to begin and sustain opportunities that allow Millennials to spend their currency – time.
What project, cause, campaign, etc. do you have as a church that engages Millennials and invites them to contribute time – as well as other things such as their gifts, talents, entrepreneurial leadership, passions, etc.?
14. “Why did you think we were all the same?”
Millennials are not all the same. You can visit or revisit our previous posts regarding the six major segments of Millennials to get our detailed perspective. Millennials, like any other generation, consist of differing perspectives and worldviews. To paint them with one, broad stroke is irresponsible and poor stewardship.
Do the hard work of determining what segments of Millennials make up your church and community. You might be trying like crazy to reach Millennials and to no avail. You shake your head in frustrated confusion because you are trying so hard. The reality might be, however, that your efforts are failing because you are targeting a segment of Millennials in your community that doesn’t exist, or if it does, it exists in small numbers.
If you are trying to reach Up & Comers, or Traditionalists, for example, and you are using invitational and attractional methods that would connect with Skeptics and Nostalgics, you’re going to miss. You must know that not all Millennials approach life the same.
15. “We shared our struggles and shortcomings openly and it was met with a ‘you can’t say that here’ look.”
If you say you are creating a safe place then it must be safe. A safe place consists of people who listen, learn, nurture, inspire, empower, encourage, etc. and one that creates trust and hope. Does your church provide a safe place for those who need to share what is going on in their life? Does your leadership provide a sense of “safety” in which people can come to you with whatever they need to share knowing that it won’t change the way you think about them?
I have a friend who was once fired from his church for sharing a person struggle at a staff meeting. The struggle wasn’t illegal and wasn’t causing damage to anyone except himself. The result of his vulnerability among “friends?” Termination. What story do people tell about your church as a safe or unsafe place?
I suggest surveying your congregation and see just how safe it is? BTW, survey in such a way that allows people to respond safely. This should go without saying but you should not ask a person to their face and expect a truthful answer, especially if it isn’t a safe place. If it isn’t a safe place that you lead, you won’t get the truth.
16. “Your church services were always at a time when we were busy. If the church would have been open when we were available, we might have come and checked it out.”
I am not going to say that the church should be like retail because I know the implications to such a statement especially as it relates to consumerism and the church merely being a provider of good and services. However, the essence of retail stores is that they are conveniently and usefully open for those who want to come in and look around. The better metaphor is probably a hospital were if you need to come in, they’ll be someone there we will receive you and get you the attention you need. Clearly, that isn’t a perfect metaphor for the church either due to the issues around healthcare, poverty, etc. that make it hard for all people to get quality care.
So, let me say this, the church should adjust its schedule to be available for prayer and the Eucharist as often as it can. I realize that not every church can be open for 24hours, or can it? The point I am trying to make is this; are you offering your services as a time that will even connect with Millennials? Have you asked around or more formally surveyed the Millennials in your community to find out what times are best? Don’t just offer your worship services, classes, etc. when it is convenient for your church. That model simply isn’t a workable solution for Millennials who wish to seek God yet have packed weekends.
Give Millennials options. Even if you can’t offer additional weekend or mid-week worship services can you offer times throughout the week for prayer, singing, the Eucharist?