How to Keep Millennials in Church? Practice What You Preach
By: Lance Moericke
When you google “millennials” and “church” you will get a myriad of articles and statistics about when, why and how to get them to come to church. However, millennials (ages 18-34) are not going to church like previous generations. And while everyone has an idea on how to “save” that missing generation- it doesn’t seem to be working. Why is that? Is there something the older generations see and don’t like? A reckless youth that they can’t correct. This is becoming a problem that churches can no longer ignore.
So here is a simple idea to keep millennials in church… practice what you’re preaching.
Stop Hurting People
If you have grown up in a church then it is fair to say you have seen someone hurt by the church. Regardless of the transgressions or the hearts of everyone involved, people have been hurt by the church. A lot of people. I think that millennials understand church hurt more than any other generation and they don’t have time for it. So, it’s simple stop hurting people. If you have hurt someone, go to that person or family and make it right. Ask for forgiveness. To me, that’s an action step that can create a bridge.
Play the Long Game
I think church leaders need to recognize that they are playing the long game. There is no miraculous “quick-fix” that is going to bring millennials back over night. It’s going to take years to bring that trust back up. How do we do that? Consistently let mercy triumph over judgement and keep that righteous anger in check. This is a big one. One that I personally have struggled with and I believe God had to humble me. I had all the biblical knowledge but my heart knowledge needed to catch up.
Seek to Understand
Bob Dylan once said “don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” If you don’t understand millennials that’s ok, just don’t criticize THEM for it. We ALL need to take responsibility for the generation that comes after us. So, start a conversation, become a mentor, and be a positive role model in your neighborhood and community. Don’t be afraid to engage, ask questions, and learn new things. This is how generations can move forward TOGETHER. This is how you convince a generation that church has value.
Being 33, I’m in the fine line of almost being in two generations (Millennial & Generation x) and I’ve seen the best and worst of both. I think it is safe to say that the older generation has always had a hard time understanding and empathizing with the younger generations. If we want the millennials to find value in church we will have to practice what we preach, stop hurting people, play the long game, and seek to understand. Millennials don’t need to be “Saved” they simply need a reason to stay.
Lance Moericke is the General Manager of Big Blue Couch® Coaching. He is a blogger, Courageous Nation™ podcast show host, and one of the “Men in the Den.” He works at the local movie theater, runs an online store on eBay, and loves the Green Bay Packers. Lance is married to Miss Maddie and they have one daughter.