Reaching Millennials Who Are There
There has been a lot of talk over what is the cause of the “Millennial void” in our churches. Many of the articles have a lot of consistent things to say. One recent article, by Sam Eaton, has been shared over 600,000 times. He cites lack of listening, too much jargon, neglect of the poor, incessant finger pointing, cliquishness, distrust over stewardship, and several other reasons. Mr. Eaton believes Millennials are not taking part in congregational life because the church is “complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction.”
Katie Jones offers another perspective at Relevant. She writes that Millennials need “to step out of our comfort zone and introduce ourselves to the people around us. We need to go to church meetings where we may know no one. We need to attend small groups to build those connections.” While she argues the church needs to reach out to Millennials, she also believes Millennials need to reach out to the church.
Miss Jones offers her experiences visiting churches in her efforts to try and find a place to connect. She is single and beginning a career. She has tried to talk with people in her pew and has asked about classes or groups that may include others in her life stage. She’s had some rather poor experiences. But she continues to try. She writes, “The bottom line is He has commanded me not to leave the Church (Hebrews 10:25). And so out of love for Him, I keep getting out of the car.”
Not every Millennial has the strong faith and determination to persevere in their search for a fellowship. But Miss Jones does offer an alternative way of thinking about Millennials. Mr. Eaton’s column ends with a declaration that if the church wants Millennials to join in fellowship, the church will need to seek them out. And there are biblical reasons for doing so! But Miss Jones provides a picture of Millennials who are making the effort and encouraging others like her to do the same.
Miss Jones concludes her column by sharing a conversation with a small group leader at a church she visited. The leader focused her attention on Miss Jones, showed a genuine interest in her life, and invited her to join her for a meal or coffee in the near future. That is not rocket science, but care. Miss Jones calls it “intentionality at its finest.” Thanks to that small act of kindness she plans to return to that church fellowship and discern God’s leading.
Your church may not have a large singles group. You may only have a few Millennials who are part of your congregation. You may not have any. But as Miss Jones reminds us, some Millennials are not necessarily seeking a contemporary worship service or a class tailored to their life stage. Some are seeking to be part of the body of Christ. Therefore, when a young person chooses to join the church fellowship on any occasion, those of different life stages must be open to connecting with that person and helping them see they belong.
The entire church must put aside fear and welcome that person in the name of Jesus. Congregants must put self aside and ask questions about the other person, showing that because God cares for that person, the church will care for that person. Each person in the church must also take ownership of the witness of the body, seeking to personally and intentionally give witness to God’s love in every encounter they have with those who are long-time members of the fellowship as well as those who may be visiting for the first time.
These are simple steps, and they can be taken. They don’t require a program, a big budget, or additional staff, only a commitment to Jesus and a love for his people. All of them. Including Millennials.