Millennials are the current generation of young adults—most often categorized as those being born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. Millennials are also noted as belonging to a generation that:
- Is extremely tech savvy and tech-dependent
- Is driven towards career advancement in a particular field rather than loyalty to a company or organization
- Sees instant gratification as a right not a privilege
- Is team-oriented when it comes to completing job tasks
- Desires and expects transparency and to be treated with equality by their supervisors and superiors
- Is interested in knowing what is real and relevant
Looking at this list of major millennial traits, you might think they are conflicted and confused. And in some ways you would be right. After all, those of us who are older and wiser know that instant gratification isn’t a right and that in most cases it isn’t real or lasting. So how can these young people desire things that are real, but also expect instant gratification without getting confused?
The answer is: they really can’t, but thankfully (and somewhat surprisingly) they are looking to the church for the answers and solutions to their dilemma.
What millennials are looking for in a church
Because the future of society always rests in the hands of its current generation of young adults, a great deal of time, effort, money, and energy has gone in to studying and analyzing the behavior, needs, and desires of millennials. And that includes studying their habits and thoughts on Christianity, the Church, their involvement in the local church, and their relationship with the LORD.
A brief summation of a number of different studies is as follows:
1. Millennials are looking for a more traditional church setting
As dependent and savvy as they are on the latest technology and all it has to offer, millennials want their church experience to be a place and time they can unplug. They are all about getting tweets, texts, posts, and emails during the week about church-related ‘stuff’, but once they walk through the doors, they want the personal connection and approach.
2. Millennials want the building to be restful and well-organized
They don’t want to have to ask where to take their kids. They don’t want to have to ask where the restrooms are. They don’t want to have to ask when and where they need to be when they need to be there. They want it clearly marked out for them.
I know this seems to be in contradiction to the previous statement about the personal touch, and in many ways it is. But being able to see for themselves where they are supposed to go gives them a greater sense of equality in knowing as well as anyone else in the building where they should be and what they need to be doing.
3. Millennials want the message to be lived and not just preached
They want to see Christianity in action by the way they are greeted, treated, and by what is going on in the church and the church’s involvement in the community. They generally won’t want to be a part of things right off the bat, but they want to know that the people they gather with to worship and the one preaching and teaching is genuinely who they claim to be.
4. Millennials aren’t after a dynamic demonstration
They aren’t nearly as interested in worship team performances as are many in their thirties and even early forties are. They are more interested in the message and sincerity of those leading worship. A simplistic approach that really serves to lead the congregation in praising God over putting on a show is much more to their liking—something that makes sense given the next thing on the list.
5. Millennials crave mentorship from older Christians
They want to learn how to live Christ from people who actually do. They want to learn from those who are older and more experienced by being with them and sharing life with them instead of just listening to someone tell them what to do.
It’s true that a large number of young people leave the church when they leave home for college or their first real job in the real world of adulthood. Just ask any campus ministry team and they will tell you their job is harder than it has ever been before.
But for those who stay and for those who either find their way back or who come to Christ for the first time, genuine, straight-from-the-Bible teaching and living is what young people are looking for. Oh, I know the news media and society in general would have you believe differently, but when you ask the very ones I’m writing about what they want, that is the answer you will get.
That leaves me with just one final question… are we going to give it to them? Are we going to stop trying to compete with the world on their level and bring ourselves and our worship services back to God’s level?
~ By Darla Noble
- Surviving as a Christian on Campus
- 7 Pieces of Advice for Young Men
- Why Different Generations Need Each Other