When I began these interviews, I went in with an assumption. I assumed that most 20 and 30-somethings would be drawn by a more contemporary church experience. I assumed that new music, dynamic teaching, and non-traditional methods would most easily speak to this age group. And I assumed wrong.
There are certainly some who specified that a contemporary style helped them feel more connected to God, but it was definitely not most of them, and in the end, it was not even half of those who identify as regular church attendees. Amanda, a 23-year old, even went so far as to say, “I feel like there are definitely some fellowships who try entirely too hard to be young and cool.”
So what kind of church attracts millennials? The interviewees who had retained their faith represented a wide variety of worship and church types, but on this question their answers were interestingly similar.
Angela, a 38-year-old, said, “All of our pastors are well grounded in the Word. Everything is biblically based. I want to be challenged even if people get offended sometimes. And we have community. We offer many ways to have community, which is very important to me and my husband.”
Beth, a 27-year-old, describes her ideal faith community as “a group of people who live out their lives with love, through the relationships they form through the service they do, through the social justice they strive for.”
Bethany, a 34-year-old, says, “I would say there’s a lot of transparency and authentic struggle. It’s not just about glossing over what the issues of life are, but really engaging in the struggle together, acknowledging the issues, but working together to find resolution, and to find God’s plan in the midst of it all. … This is what I have been wanting for a long time and it feels very fulfilling to be in in this type of church!”
Cece, a 27-year-old, describes her church in this way: “A community where you can feel open and honest, the leadership is open and honest, the teaching is sound and biblically based. People feel welcome and there are good options, good structure, great community great small groups. I think we need to work on serving, getting out in the community and making a difference.”
These are just a few of the comments that are representative of the whole. Again and again, the common denominator of what attracted a millennial to a particular church was seeing biblical truth and faith being lived out in their spiritual community and specifically, seeing God’s love active and alive within the people in their church.
So if you attend a church that doesn’t have exciting music, a dynamic pastor, or a fog machine, don’t worry. Just love the way Jesus tells us to. You’ll be a millennial magnet.
Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep loving.
Kristi, for WeConnect