Churches around the country are trying desperately to reach millennials, many of whom grew up attending church and ultimately decided it wasn’t for them. In efforts to make church activities appear “trendy” and to attract this younger generation, churches have employed a wide variety of strategies in recent years. The music, message, and mission statements of many churches have been overhauled completely to make them more palatable to millennials. Edgier topics are finding their way into sermons and church-led discussions – topics such as sex/hooking up, drugs/alcohol, suicide, body image/eating disorders, dating, and pornography. A quick internet search of trending youth group topics shows that these issues are commonly touted as some of the most important for youth pastors to discuss when seeking to cultivate millennial interest. While these topics do affect young people on a daily basis and most certainly have a proper time and place for acknowledgment, one must wonder, are they really the most important items to address in church?
The Top 5
- Mental Health
- Service to Others
Which topics are noticeably missing from this top five topical interest list? Sex/hooking up, drugs/alcohol, suicide, body image/eating disorders, dating, and pornography. It seems these “trendy” topics may not be so popular among millennials after all. In fact, some of these (specifically drugs/alcohol and pornography) ranked near the very bottom of the entire list, as topics that millennials are least interested in hearing about at church.
What it Means
The results of the topical interest survey paints a clear picture that millennials do not see churches as simply a place where they go to learn about the morality of “trendy” issues. Instead, they want a church where they can find community, where they can gain a deeper sense of self, where they can feel free to talk about their doubts without judgment, where they can truly serve those in need, and where they can find ways to talk about and improve mental health. Millennials don’t prioritize discussions of certain trendy topics when considering a church, but rather they want a place where they can belong. Churches hoping to attract millennials should learn that they needn’t try so hard to be “cool.” They should instead aim to offer an authentic Christian community full of service opportunities, acceptance, and mental health support above all else.