It’s the time of the millennials, and they matter. This group, born between 1981 and 1997, came into the world at a time information communications technology was on the rise. Ever since that time, they’ve continually locked into online platforms that create value in terms of instant information and immediate gratification.
Their needs and outlook on life are different from those of their parents. With religion in general, a good number is unaffiliated and when it comes to affirming the Christian faith, there is a wide gap between their generation and that of their parents.
In a survey carried out in 2019 by Pew Research Center, results showed “a wide gap between older Americans (Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation) and Millennials in their levels of religious affiliation and attendance. More than eight-in-ten members of the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) describe themselves as Christians (84%), as do three-quarters of Baby Boomers (76%). In stark contrast, only half of Millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians; four-in-ten are religious “nones,” and one-in-ten Millennials identify with non-Christian faiths. These statistics are not comforting and pose a serious challenge to the Church.
The corporate world and other groups, recognizing the market value and dynamic nature of this ever-growing population, have had to re-engineer and reposition their offerings in order to retain the loyalty of these young adults. They are the future and that’s the reality. The Church, therefore, cannot reason differently. What this means is that Church leaders have to rethink, unlearn, and relearn some traditional approaches to Church administration.
The methods for keeping millennials engaged, especially in these times of a pandemic, are limitless but below are eight tips that can help further this objective.
- Have your Church operate like a well-oiled machine. In using the analogy of a car and a gas station, cars, when empty, will pull into a gas station to refuel. They will also go in for a tune-up from time to time. This service guarantees the optimal functioning of the automobile. So, it is too with the younger generation.
They are always in search of new and fresh information. They will come into the Church space seeking knowledge and healing. You will have to provide spiritual food and practical solutions regularly in order to keep them engaged.
- Considering the strong appetite for endorsements, you may want to look into getting young brand ambassadors or Christian social media influencers as drivers of your message and Church mission. Young adults tend to believe and listen more to their age mates. They speak the same language and share similar interests beyond the Church. Modernize your website, put a team in charge, and make it as dynamic as possible. This online presence, along with other social media platforms, form today’s tools of engagement.
- Cut out the fluff and project honesty and a real sense of community. In an age of confusion and contradictions, young people are seeking safe havens where they can be themselves while making meaning of life. An environment that is filled with manipulations, judgmental attitudes, emotional blackmail, and contradictions are huge turn-offs for them. Learn their needs and listen to their struggles in order to serve them better.
- Make a deliberate effort to groom the next generation of leaders out of them. Young adults relate more to leaders in their age bracket. Spend time and resources to nurture and train would-be leaders within this group. Prepare them to share the gospel and empower them to run their programs by giving them a sense of independence. Senior leadership should, however, provide oversight and regular mentoring.
- A sense of community is important to millennials. One reason young people stroll the internet and straddle several electronic platforms and social media groups is that they seek a sense of belonging. They feed off the energy of other participants. The Church should attempt to create similar communities but Christian based ones that help them grow and make responsible decisions. When not online, hold some in-person services that are conversational or interactive. They have pressing questions that need immediate answers.
- Millennials are very aware of their civic responsibilities and as such, a good number are cause-driven or cause minded. They volunteer to help the needy and are quick to condemn social injustice, as seen in their mass participation in ‘black lives matter’ protest. Apart from spiritual food, it will be useful to explain Biblical positions on societal injustice. Provide answers using historical and empirical evidence.
- Identify causes that will take them out of the four walls of the Church. Participating in these causes will allow them to dissipate their energies and provide them a sense of self-worth or accomplishment. Furthermore, develop a robust online presence. Include causes that they can make financial contributions to. As a technologically driven generation, they are more comfortable providing virtual support to their interests. Church management software programs like ChurchPad have tools that can help put these in place. Thankfully tools like these are inexpensive.
- Finally, in an attempt to seek creative ways to bring young adults in and keep them within the Church, the Word must not be watered down neither should it be compromised. The Christ way of life is not devoid of challenges. We live in a real world that has so many “land mines.” Sharing this brutal truth with millennials and teaching them how to navigate the pitfalls successfully through Biblical principles will keep them coming back.