The following post was written to compare and contrast the key points of four prominent books written about millennials and the Church. The four books are listed below:
- The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, by Thom S. Rainer & Jess W. Rainer
- The New Copernicans: Millennials and the Survival of the Church, by David John Seel Jr.
- Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church, by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin
- Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, by James Emery White
All four significant works share the following fundamental concepts regarding millennial motivations:
Millennials wish to make an impact on the world by serving others. As they approach a new task, they take pride in the energy and work they offer. They value connection to others, especially when the connection will help to fulfill a greater purpose in their communities.
Millennials want to make a contribution to society, or a difference in the world. They believe they can do something great and can do anything they set their mind to. Three out of four millennials believe that their role in life is to serve others. They want to get support from all people to clean up the environment. They want to change the world, and they are eager to make a difference now. (Rainer & Rainer)
Millennials place more value on actual experiences than on abstract reflections of events. They want to taste, feel, smell and capture experiences. They want to practice discipleship rather than learn about it. (Seel Jr.)
Young people can infuse a congregation with energy, intensity, and can make the church healthier. This energy allows for more service activities. They help congregations accomplish their mission, because they give of themselves wholeheartedly with the passion of youth, and they bring fresh thoughts and innovation. Churches can benefit from this because their energy attracts older adults with more financial resources. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
The Church was defined as a place where people gathered together to be the church. Nine out of ten adults say that churches bring people together and strengthen community bonds, and that they play an important role in helping the poor. (White)
Millennials have a strong need to be recognized and valued as individuals, finding stereotypes upsetting. They shy away from people and situations that could generalize them in a negative light.
Research found millennials prefer no stereotype for their generation. They all want to be viewed individually. (Rainer & Rainer)
They don’t like to be generalized. Millennials are often portrayed in a negative light and that causes them to shut out the beliefs of people who view them that way. (Seel Jr.)
To grow young the congregation, as a whole, needs to recognize and challenge current stereotypes they have about the younger generations. Consider fostering conversations with younger members to help understand their choices and behaviors. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
The greatest value for this generation is, nothing is better than individual freedom. (White)
Millennials have access to news and global information twenty-four hours a day. Because of this non-stop access, they report significant feelings of stress, but would also feel disconnected or lost without the constant informational intake.
The world as a whole is more accessible to millennials because of twenty-four hour news and the internet. Therefore, they have a great feeling of connectedness to the whole world, not just their immediate surroundings. (Rainer & Rainer)
Cultural impacts and technology changes shape the frame in which millennials view the world. They get instant access to information and instant feedback on behavior. (Seel Jr.)
The young are keenly aware of hate and injustice both locally and globally because of their access to twenty-four hour access to immediate news. This can cause them stress. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Media affects us completely, it is so pervasive that it affects us personally, politically, economically aesthetically, psychologically, morally, ethically, and socially. It leaves no part of us untouched, unaffected, and unaltered. (White)
Millennials want a church with a strong leader who leads in the same manner that they preach. They long to make a difference both in local and global arenas and can only feel a strong sense of belonging in church with a church leader who shares their vision.
When asked, millennials responded that they want a church that isn’t out for financial gain. They want one that is devoted to the bible, and that helps the community. They want a church that feels warm and inviting, that fosters close relationships. The church should also be serious in their approach to the bible. They want a humble leader, and they are abandoning churches because the view religion as divisive and argumentative. (Rainer & Rainer)
They will move away from people or things that they perceive as fake or superficial. Millennials that don’t go to church tend to view Christians as judgmental and hypocritical. To appeal to millennials churches need to provide authentic experiences of following Jesus that speaks to their core values of justice, belonging and love. They need to see the members of the congregation practice what they preach, and that the love and kindness that is preached is exhibited in daily life. (Seel Jr.)
Bright spot congregations are effectively loving and serving young people. We call these churches that grow young. The young people in these churches talk about how known they feel, and that their church feels like home. Therefore, to grow young a church needs a staff that is good at keychain leadership. This means delegating appropriate responsibilities to others in a trust building relationship. Or sharing the keys to the church both literally and figuratively. If you are willing to entrust your keys to young people, they will trust you with their hearts, their energy, their creativity and even their friends. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
The leadership itself is the most important thing that contributes to the success with young people. They respond to leaders who are authentic and transparent. They want leaders that listen to their congregation as to what matters most to them. They are also looking for a leader who are caring, accepting, and enjoyable to be with. They want leaders who understand them, mentor them, and personally hand them responsibilities when they are ready. They value a pastor that models living a life of faith through relational warmth, rather than pastors that talk about their faith. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
A warm and accepting place to belong is very critical in attracting young members to a congregation. They want a church where they get that sense of belonging. They look for a congregation that is authentic, hospitable, and caring. Young people are looking for a place they can do life together, through shared meals, shared child care, and shared service in the community. They want a church that is part of their life, not only their church life, but a place where they can be in the trials of life together, like a family. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Many outside the Christian faith think the church no longer reflects what Jesus had in mind. They see the church as hyperpolitical, out of touch, pushy in their beliefs, and arrogant. And the biggest perception of all is that we are homophobic, hypocritical, and judgmental. Many believe that modern day Christianity no longer seems Christian. (White)
Millennials are a very diverse group. They are ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse, more than any generation before them.
Millennials are diverse. They are not forced to have friends from varying backgrounds. They form these relationships regardless of race or ethnicity. They are open to mixed race marriages. (Rainer & Rainer)
Ethnic diversity is on the minds of this generation, perhaps more than any generation before them. The same goes for socioeconomic diversity. (Seel Jr.)
The millennials have lived and breathed in a world of cultural diversity. This can make it a struggle to be committed to a single belief system while simultaneously recognizing the value of other belief system. To do this takes intellectual, social and worldly maturity. Be kind and generous to those expressing a different opinion. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Generation Z is the most racially diverse generation to date. (White)
Three of the four books align on the following points:
Millennials feel strongly about what is happening outside the church, and want a church that is focused on mission work.
Churches that are serious about reaching this generation must become serious mission churches. Millennials feel churches should help the community, rather than try to grow bigger. Further they want to be physically involved in the mission work. Millennial Christians are more concerned with what is going on outside the church, such as mission work, rather than what goes on inside. The questions the church faces is will the church embrace the desires or millennials to work outside of the church on mission type work, or will they continue as is, and let the young to find or create venues beyond existing churches. (Rainer & Rainer)
The question “What is your dream?” is a very motivating question for millennials, because they want the world to be a better place, and they long for social justice. Instead of preaching, the way to reach millennials is to join them on their missions and learn and teach from a shared experience. (Seel Jr.)
For churches striving to grow young, it cannot be stressed enough, they need to engage in acts of compassion, missions, and social justice. Young members are drawn to churches that strive to be the best neighbors both locally and globally. The millennials like a church that involves the children, senior adults, and everyone in between in local and global intergenerational mission trips. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Most millennials are very open to same-sex marriage, but the exception can be seen in millennials that already identify as Christians. This gap of ideology will be a challenge for churches attempting to attract younger members.
The majority is open to same sex marriages. But this is heavily influenced by how they feel toward religion. Religious millennials who identify as Christian are opposed to same sex marriage. While those that identify as spiritual or non-religious support same sex marriage. (Rainer & Rainer)
As cultural beliefs change towards sexuality shift toward more accepting of same sex marriage, Pastor’s may struggle to keep millennials, who though they believe in God, may struggle to believe in churches judging. The church may need to take a step back from judging, and trust in God to guide his flock.
Generation Z has become sexually and relationally amorphous. We live in a pivotal time that even includes a redefinition of marriage and family. No longer is family defined as a male husband and a female wife, much less involving children. It is a new day in which the very idea of family is being recast in the light of personal desire. They hold inclusivity and acceptance as dear to their heart. They have made up their mind on the question of both same sex marriage, and equal rights for transgender people, with over 70% in favor of both subjects. They view the moral stance of opposing gay marriage, as a social stance in line with racism.
Being that millennials live in a digital world of non-stop informational access, they use their smartphones to communicate with family, friends, and the entire world. They see technology as a vital part of their lives.
They’ve never known a world without technology and media. They spend roughly one third of their waking hours on a computer or smartphone. They like to communicate using technology. Smartphones are important to them, 75 percent feel that they are vital to their lives, they use them to stay connected. Texting is their preferred form of communication. (Rainer & Rainer)
Technology allows millennials to access the world more than their parents could have ever imagined. Today’s technology helps young people connect globally to others. Social media fills a very important need for millennials, connection. They can connect with family, friends, and the rest of the world. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
They have referred to millennials as digital natives, however, Generation Z is the first internet in their pocket generation. Teenagers currently spend nearly nine hours a day absorbing some form of media, screen time has become an integral part of their environment. Because they are constantly connected to a global internet community, they live in a world with an overload of information, but have little wisdom, and very few mentors to help understand the information. It’s like they have been given a library card that allows for instant access to information, but no teachers to help them interpret the information. They live in a world of livestreaming and co-creating. (White)
Quite possibly one of the greatest challenges for churches in reaching millennials is that as a whole, they care very little about religion. Greater numbers of young adults have no sense of desire to explore the idea of a higher power or to claim affiliation to any one religious group.
They are agnostic toward all religious matters. (Rainer & Rainer)
Only 13 percent of millennials in the study, presented in the book Millennials, considered any type of spirituality to be important. (Rainer & Rainer)
Millennials feel trapped when their parents try to force religion into their lives. The want the freedom to experience, question an decide their own beliefs. (Seel Jr.)
While younger millennials do not feel hostile toward religion, however the lack of hostility is because they don’t care about religion. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
There is this idea of a squishy center between secularity and believers. This area is more flexible because they have little definition and less conviction. In the past the people in the center self-identified as Christians, now the people in the center say they are nothing. (White)
In the world today, increasing numbers of people lead their lives without any sense of needing to look to a higher power. Rather than rejecting God, we are in a culture that simply ignores him. While most people of Generation Z still believe in the existence of God, less than half attend weekly religious services of any kind. (White)
There is group of people the author refers to as the Nones. They are not affiliated with any religion. This group is comprised of one in four adults. They are now the largest religious group in the United States. The Nones haven’t shifted to another religion, rather they have abandoned religion altogether. (White)
With their ease of access to learn many different beliefs, millennials tend to identify as spiritual rather than of a specific religion.
While millennials are not religious, they do identify as being spiritual. That being said, there is no majority spiritual position. Many have a variety of beliefs, which make it hard to put a single label on their beliefs. They take these beliefs from multiple sources and blend them into a spiritual system. (Rainer & Rainer)
The access to so much information on varied beliefs makes it difficult for millennials to truly embrace one belief system, they are more likely to believe there is a divine spark in us that we need to understand through self-knowledge. (Seel Jr.)
A surprising finding is that two thirds of Christians believe that many religions can lead to everlasting life, and 50 percent of Christians believe that non-Christian based religions can lead to everlasting life. (White)
Listening to millennials opinions and incorporating some of their own ideas may actually be the key to reaching this dynamic generation.
Churches may benefit from seeking feedback from non-believing millennials as to what sounds real to them. Interview non-believing millennials, listen intently to their thoughts and opinions, and take steps in the directions that will appeal to their values. Listen as a learner, rather than a pastor. (Seel Jr.)
Invite younger people to sit with you and look at your church’s website. Ask the what draws them into exploring your website, ask them what makes them feel welcome, and what makes them feel distant. Try to imagine seeing your church as a first-time visitor. We become comfortable with what we have always known, but sometimes we become blind to things that might not feel welcoming to others. The way to discover what is meaningful to young members is to listen to all of your congregation. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Who are you trying to attract? Figure this out and develop your discipleship around them. It’s important to remember it is not about you, it’s about the people who aren’t even there yet. (White)
Millennials seem to be more attracted to and interested in learning about the man that Jesus was, rather than his being the Son of God.
Many believe Jesus only existed as an inspirational man. (Rainer & Rainer)
When young people talk about the gospel seven out of ten specifically mention Jesus. Actively pursuing Jesus is just as important as pursuing young members, because young people are drawn to the person and work of Jesus. They want to know who Jesus is, and they want a church that encourages knowing Jesus. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
The church of Christ is not a man made invention, rather it was founded and instituted by Jesus himself. Its purpose is to serve as an ongoing manifestation of Christ on earth. The church’s mission, given by Christ himself, was to gather the fallen and bring them back to God. Younger Evangelicals have often met the change by retreating into an apolitical Christian subculture, the idea being that by simply living a life following Jesus, they will affect culture. Illustrating what a Christ follower would do in times of conflict and challenges is always the best road to take. (White)
Two of the four books are in agreement on the following points:
Many members of the millennial generation have been personally affected by divorce.
They have an aversion to divorce and remarriage. Usually this is fueled by a reaction to their parents or their friend’s parents divorce. They are nervous about broken families, because they remember seeing the intense hurt that occurred in divided families. (Rainer & Rainer)
Young people that have gone through a divorce in their families feel alone, unsafe, depressed and withdrawn. These feelings can lead to alcohol and drug use. Programs that offer a safe place to share their feelings, and explore where faith may help them, can encourage them to stay active in their church. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Interpersonal relationships and personal attention are of great importance to millennials.
The best way to get a millennial involved in religion or politics is through growing interpersonal relationships. (Rainer & Rainer)
Their childhood was experienced through hyperconnectivity, this causes them to place a priority on relationships. Because of this they tend to favor smaller group settings that has an emphasis on personal attention, they may respond to a casual setting to share a meal, while discussing causes that are important to them. A move away from the pews to living the gospel through actions fits into their preference experiential lessons. (Seel Jr.)
Millennials have much shorter attention spans than previous generations. Churches may need to establish quicker means to draw and keep their attention.
The instant access to media has caused attention spans to decrease dramatically. They are used to information coming at them in short bursts. (Rainer & Rainer)
The instantaneous nature of today’s technology, including multitasking across five screens has resulted in a large drop in this generation’s attention spans. It is approximately 8 seconds long. This mean to reach this generation and get their attention you have to convey your message in a quick “snack size” bites. You may also have to find inventive ways to repeat the message. The good news is once you succeed in getting their attention, they can be intensely immersed and committed to subjects they deem worthy. (White)
When asked, a large percentage of millennials actually do identify as Christian.
Sixty-five percent of millennials identified with being Christian, in a broad sense of the religion. However, when questioned further, only 20 percent identified as born-again Christians, and only six percent identify as evangelical Christians. (Rainer & Rainer)
Only 71 percent of American adults would call themselves Christian. (White)
Around half of millennials report praying consistently.
Fifty percent report they pray once a week or more. (Rainer & Rainer)
Six out of ten Baby Boomers report praying every day, while only four out of ten Millennials would say the same. (White)
Parental involvement in church is crucial to keeping their children involved as they grow older.
A millennial with parents who were nominal Christians are likely to divorce themselves altogether from Christianity and the church. However, a millennial whose parents demonstrated some fervency in their Christian faith is likely to become even more fervent. It may help to keep millennials engaged in the church if the parents of the millennials ask their sons and daughters to directly help with missions. (Rainer & Rainer)
Parents still carry the most important weight in their kid’s faith development. So touching base regularly with parents with ways to encourage, support, and educate them in ways to keep their children interested in church is vital. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Encouraging millennials that are already members of a congregation to invite their friends is vital in attracting new young members.
The millennials that aren’t Christian think very little about attending church, but they do value growing their social relationships, so an invitation from a friend to attend a service with them would likely get them to attend. (Rainer & Rainer)
Because of their desire to connect with other, an invitation from a friend to attend church continues to be the best way to draw new people to your church. Create tools that celebrate and encourage the young to invite their friends. Acknowledge their efforts and be sure they know they are valued and appreciated. (White)
It is important to understand that millennials have a wide range of understandings and beliefs when it comes to Christianity, and that meeting them “where they are” will be vital in keeping their interest.
Encouraging millennials to embrace Christianity may require the church to meet them where they are in their beliefs, and then find mutual common ground. Churches could keep more millennials by allowing questions, and exploring new opinions, from the them. (Seel Jr.)
Millennials are living in a post-Christian society with no memory of the Gospel. They are stunningly illiterate when it comes to spirituality. It needs to be a culture of explanation. This explanation needs to be brought down the very basics such as this is the Bible, it has sixty-six books, etc. The tools missionaries use to reach people in countries where they aren’t familiar with the cultural norms, language, and preferences, we can use to understand the people who comprise Generation Z. It is difficult to deliver the Gospel if you don’t understand the audience to whom you are teaching. They are visually oriented, and will consume information best through things they find visually appealing. (White)
It is important for church leaders to recognize that millennials value the journey over the destination when it comes to learning about religious matters.
Evangelicals are more focused on intellectually determining their destination. Millennials are more focused on a living journey to find the destination. They want to explore and discover the truth to help aid in their growth. They are more likely to embrace a shared journey to a unknown destination, than to blindly follow a predetermined path to only one predetermined destination. We need to listen to them carefully and not get hung up on minor points of theological disagreements. They are seeking a personal relationship with the spiritual reality. (Seel Jr.)
Evangelism among millennials today is typically more about seeking understanding, rather than about direct conversion. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Including millennials in leadership is crucial to the growth of the church.
Transitioning to more millennial leadership is vital for the evangelical church to continue to flourish. (Seel Jr.)
Church leaders believe trusting young members to be in leadership positions contributes to the continued growing young of their church. It is important create an atmosphere where young people are actively welcomed into planning for worship, and special events. Young people need to know they are needed, and are invited to participate, just like everyone else in your congregation. They want to sense that they play a load-bearing, meaningful, role in the church. (Powell, Mulder, Griffin)
The fellowship, warmth, and personal attention found in small groups is attractive to millennials.
Millennials focus more on worship with others, small groups, bible studies, and service in their neighborhood or around the world. A small group community is very important in aiding the growth of authentic, warm relationships. (Powell, Mulder, Griffin)
Organize small groups of members that share common interests. Run these programs for six weeks. If the group gels together organically encourage them to continue as a small in-home group. (White)
Encouraging your congregation to reach across generational gaps allows both older and younger members to feel valued.
Intergenerational relationships are important in growing a church young. One strategy to accomplish this is through mentoring, and another is through intergenerational worship groups. When the generation gaps are bridged, everyone grows young together. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
To encourage young members to join you need to skew young, meaning you hire young leaders, choose to platform bands and speakers that are young, and embrace the technology of the young. This doesn’t mean you need to alienate your older members, just be sure to reach across the generation gap by embracing things that speak to the young. It is important to encourage and teach the older members how to invest in welcoming and mentoring the newest Generation. (White)
Although millennials may seem to mature at a younger age, they take longer to step into full adulthood.
When compared with previous generations there is a longer journey toward full adulthood. They marry later, have children later, and start careers later. This is labeled in research as an extended adolescence. However, their sense of identity, belonging and purpose starts earlier. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
They seem mature and in control. However, in the world today, children are almost forced to embrace mature issues, themes, and experiences before they are emotionally ready. (White)
There is a growing trend of parents being less involved in their children’s lives. This is unfortunate in a culture where they could benefit from more guidance.
Many teenagers view the adults in their lives as too busy, or too self-absorbed, to invest in them without an agenda. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
They are being raised by Generation X, who are raising their kids in the opposite way they were, so the trend has changed from helicopter parents to more of a free-range parenting. As a result, they are quite independent. The danger of under-protective family in the age of sexting, Facebook, bullying, internet porn, cutting, and hooking up cannot be ignored. (White)
Explaining complex religious ideas in common, easy-to-understand language helps millennials connect to the meaning of scripture.
Clarity of language is important to young people, especially when it comes to understanding tradition laden religious terms. Young people use story language to describe God’s work in the world. Rituals are concrete actions that can draw young people into a better story. When people see their story within God’s story, the work of the church gains greater meaning. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
We need to try to picture our communication through the eyes of someone who has never known Christ if we wish to meet them where they are in their knowledge. Changing our wording to something more descriptive, “For example instead of saying, this passage is from John 1:14, try saying something along the lines of the is from the biography of Jesus written by John, it is one of our four biographies in the Bible.” (White)
Tapping into millennials’ desire to help others is an effective way to encourage church attendance.
Millennials value making a difference in their own neighborhood. They focus more on worship with others, small groups, bible studies, and service in the neighborhood or around the world. (Powell, Mulder & Griffin)
Forty-two percent of Generation Z expect that they will work for themselves. However, this is not about money, rather it is stemming from their desire to make a difference, and believing they can. They are hyper-aware and concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet. (White)
Unique Points of Interest
The following are points of interest that we believe to be noteworthy, but that are each present in only one of the reviewed books:
Points of Interest Within “The Millennials”Show Points of Interest
This is the most educated generation. Millennials do not define greatness in the same way others may perceive. They think in terms of the greater good. They tend to be optimistic, upbeat, positive and happy but are also realists.
Eighty-six percent of millennials plan to marry only once or not at all. They favor large wedding celebrations. They want to learn from people who have long-term, successful, marriages. They want smaller families with only 2-3 children, and desire to be very involved in their children’s daily lives.
They have strong family relationships, and a large majority feel that family is the most important thing in life. They strongly value mutual respect in all relationships. Parents are intensely involved, and nine out of ten millennials feel that they have been strongly influenced by their parents. They were raised in families where the parents were always available to them. Eighty-nine percent report receiving guidance and from their parents.
Fifty percent of millennials are working, but for the most part, they are not workaholics. They want to work hard and smart, but not long. They are not money driven, however they recognize they need money to do the things they value.
They select jobs considering several keys traits as the most important. They value work-life balance, will research compensation, and negotiate for fair pay. They want to have fun at work and value schedule flexibility. They want and need a substantial amount of feedback on their performance, similar to what they received from their parents. Therefore, millennials consider mentorship a positive and valuable experience. They want to help improve the workplace as a whole and wish that the older, more experienced employees will accept their advice and respect their opinions. They often feel they aren’t being used to their full potential at work. Millennials are not likely to stay in a job where they perceive little chance of upward mobility, and eighty-four percent describe career success as being important to them.
Many millennials believe that if they adhere to the Ten Commandments they will go to heaven. Seventy percent believe in Heaven, but most think you don’t have to be active in religion to get there.
Sixty-one percent believe in hell and Satan.
They believe God is an all knowing, all powerful creator.
Points of Interest Within “The New Copernicans”Show Points of Interest
Our realities are based on the frames through which we view them. The way millennials, and other generations view the same event will differ because we all look at things through the frameworks we have in place. They tend to the view things from an intuitive mind rather than an analytical mind. Because millennials have their own frames through which they view the world, they will actively resist anyone trying to force them to conform to their views. The traditional evangelistic frame resists and is often against imagination, so they may push back against it.
The way churches most often interpret scripture is through reading, interpreting, and then applying it to our lives. Millennials rely more on having an experience, thinking about how the experience feels, and then analyzing that experience.
Many modern-day churches take the posture of being comfortable with exactly where they are and how they function. This is in contrast with how millennials would like to see an organization. They are constantly looking to see if there is a better way of doing things, and would feel more at-home in an organization with a sense of progression.
Millennials will turn away from a sermon that only focuses on the sharing of a narrow base of knowledge and have a greater response to relational sermons. They perceive polished, rehearsed, messages as unnatural in our messy reality.
It may help if Christians could shift the focus to “being Christianity” rather than “being a Christian”. There is action involved in Christianity, while simply being a Christian is passive. Moreover, a label that too narrowly defines a person as a whole does not sit well in the millennial frame.
Few people see the millennials’ passion for justice, belonging, and longing for love as a desire for God, though these longings may be the missing key to this generation’s attachment to the church. Rather than loudly declaring one “right” way and forcing millennials into a belief system, churches will do much better in striving to gently show them the love and light of God.
Points of Interest Within “Growing Young”Show Points of Interest
Wording matters to young people. You are more likely to receive a positive response when specifically inviting participation in a role in a church rather than openly asking for volunteers.
A recent study showed that 13-17 year old’s are more likely to feel extreme stress, however, the adults around them are often blind to their heightened stress levels. Over 80 percent of the young people that go to church agree that their church involvement decreases their stress.
Churches which are growing younger recognize the absence of caring adults and healthy families is a major motivation of young people’s desire to find their tribe.
When high school seniors in a youth group of a church that is growing young were surveyed about what they wanted more of in their youth groups, they listed time for deep conversation, mission trips, and service projects as their top three wishes.
Salvation means more to young people than the assurance of Heaven later. It invites us to a new way of living life in the present. For millennials, salvation is more of journey than an instant conversion.
A majority of people in churches that are growing young talk about here and now faith, rather than going to heaven or hell.
Millennials respond better to a church that offers them something to do, rather than a church that gives them a list of things not to do. They want lives filled with action, not just restriction.
Rather than simply inviting friends to church and allowing the church to handle the rest, millennials prefer to organically and relationally share their experiences and testimonies.
Churches that are growing young frequently include testimony as part of their regular worship and spiritual formation.
It is important in young people’s development of their faith to have a safe opportunity to express and explore their doubts. Thinking of faith as a verb rather than a noun, the idea of “faithing” fits the way young people work their way through doubts and towards a mature faith identity.
Theologically, churches stand on solid ground when they prioritize young members in all facets of their. It means following Jesus’s lead in how to treat the young. Churches should not always make young members raise their own funding for mission trips, as it gives the message that they are only workers and not valued members. Be careful to recognize them as individuals and not just for the work they do.
Empathy is important when dealing with teenagers and young adults. They need to know they are really being listened to, understood, and having their worries and fears addressed. True empathy pays itself forward, because when young adults feel heard and appreciated, they then go on to empathize with the people with whom they are entrusted to work.
Our youth struggle with three ultimate questions: Who am I? Where do I fit? And what difference do I make? They struggle with a journey to find their purpose, and they often feel what they want to achieve is unrealistic. Churches that successfully grow young often provide vocational guidance to help young people discover their life’s purpose and find ways to fulfill it.
When churches try to mimic the culture around them and seek to compete with the entertainment industry in order to entice new members to join, they’ll likely be seen as non-authentic to millennials.
Asking young people what type of media they prefer to use for communication is important. Don’t assume you know what they want.
Points of Interest Within “Meet Generation Z”Show Points of Interest
Because they are the first generation that will have been raised in a post-Christian context, they are the first post-Christian generation. There are now more than four former Christians for every one Christian convert.
The effects of pornography are having the biggest impact on this age group. Especially in a world of under-protective parenting. Pornography may be the biggest immorality that faces Generation Z as it desensitizes their soul.
The key to being a counter-culture church is to take care in not being just an updated copy of the current church, or young people will feel it has nothing original to offer. The nature of the post-Christian culture and the generation it’s created need to have a complete re-evaluation as to what approaches will be used. No longer can evangelism simply be event-driven. The church must now view evangelism as both a process and an event.
Choosing his battles was something Jesus did masterfully. We could improve our outreach by following his lead.
Biblically speaking, there are three primary ways to speak into culture. The prophetic voice is clear in denunciations and warnings. It can be an admonishing tone, a “thou shalt not” voice. Next is the evangelistic voice. It is a voice attempting to build bridges across cultural divides. It is used to explain things and make apologetic cases. Finally, there is the heretical voice. This is the voice that speaks against the gospel and attempts to distort the gospels presentation to culture itself. It is attempting to connect with a post-Christian culture by mirroring its post-Christian values and sentiments.
The relevance of the church is not in its giving into culture, but in it’s changing of culture.
Every generation needs to translate the gospel into the context of the culture, but that is very different than transforming the gospel into something that isn’t supported by the bible.
Although the temptation to mute the prophetic voice and only use the evangelistic voice is strong when trying to reach across cultural lines, something is lost from learning the gospel by doing so. The other challenge in using the prophetic voice is that today’s culture is a culture of offense, where even unintentional slights cause people to take offense and seek punishment of the offender. The culture of offense is leading to a new term: vindictive protectiveness. This describes a characteristic of people who will eliminate anything potentially upsetting in what they read or think about, and if anybody exposes them to the upsetting subject, they feel they should be penalized.
The goal for churches should be to offer both truth and grace, as one without the other never works as well. Truth without grace is seen as judgemental, and grace without truth is only license.
Forty-two percent of all atheists are between 18 and 29 years old.
Generation Z has a belief in the supernatural, which can work to the advantage of churches because Christianity is a belief in the supernatural. Signs and wonders work well when used in their proper context to reach into deeply secular minds. Generation Z feel a deep sense of awe and wonder about the universe, this is important because 4 out of 10 of the non-religious believe that physics and humanity may point to a creator. One of the most powerful pre-evangelistic approaches is to tap into this awe and wonder, and then pose questions that could point to the existence of God. Even the Big Bang Theory can be explored as the “In the Beginning God created” moment. How else can we explain how these amazingly accurate things (which had to happen in order to create life) could randomly happen?
No matter how good a church service is, if the children’s ministry is bad, families won’t come back.
Generation Z constitutes 25.9 percent of the United States population, and by 2020, Generation Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers.
Culture is the comprehensive, penetrating context that encompasses life and thought, art and speech, entertainment and sensibilities, and values and faith. Kids mirror their culture, so what they see is what they want to become. They are highly influenced by other people’s opinions and word of mouth. This is important because they won’t just influence American culture, they will constitute American culture.
In 2006, there was a record number of births in the United States, and 49% of those born were Hispanics.
Most sociologists agree that the behavior, language, attitudes, and desires, even physical appearance of adults and children are becoming indistinguishable. To make this more dangerous, parents can fall into the trap of desperately wanting their kids to fit in, and begin to bend their rules to allow their children to fit into the cultural norms.
Although many say that millennials are the group of people born between 1980 and the early 2000’s, lumping them together would link 13 year old kids with 35 year old adults. While it is difficult to see this broad range of people as one group, addressing their overall attitudes, behaviors, and desires will be crucial in determining the future of the church.
We hope that the intersection and contrast of the ideas contained within the four source books helped provide some clarity into the topic of millennial outreach. Thanks for reading!