It has been said that this current generation—Millennials (born between 1990 and 1994) are leaving the church at a rate higher than any other time in history. There have been countless studies on the cause of this mass exodus. Most of these theories boil down to this idea of “authenticity.” What millennials want is for churches, pastors, etc. to be authentic. As a Millennial myself, I agree.
However, there is one area where millennials are performing well-rallying under a cause bigger than ourselves. Look at Bernie Sanders’ recent campaign built primarily on donations and support of millennials rallying together under the notion of free healthcare and education. Look at the Occupy Movement in 2011- young people had no idea why they were camping in a park in New York, but they did it anyways!
Millennials, more than any other generation, are dependent on relationships. And because of texting, social media, news, and the internet, we’re aware of what’s going on in the world and we care. We care about people, the environment, politics, and even caged chickens! And because we care, we join together to support any cause that our close friends and family are passionate about. This generation is driven by relationships. We have this desire to live in close community, to coexist, to support one another.
Does anyone else find it odd that a generation more passionate about relationships than any other generation is struggling to find a home in the Church?
Acts 2:42-47 gives us a beautiful description of the church in its early days:
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Jesus died for His church. But church was never meant to be about a Sunday service—it’s about community. We are designed to live in close relationship with other followers of Jesus- supporting one another as we grow, taking care of each others needs, and celebrating together because of what God has done for us! Christianity finds its fulfillment in community. The Church is a bunch imperfect people saved by grace forming a community that reflects Jesus.
Is this what my generation sees when they look at the church? I wonder if we’ve gotten too caught up in growth strategies and fancy production that we’ve overlooked God’s instructions the church.
Millennials want community. We are part of the ultimate community—a community that is founded on the grace of God, operating in radical generosity, and enduring into eternity. We are a thriving community of imperfect people, following a perfect and loving God. This is what millennials need. This is what we all need.
So what can you do to help this generation? What can I do? Here are three simple steps we can all take to reverse the current trend of millennials leaving the church:
- Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you hate skinny jeans, don’t wear them. If you like classical music, listen to it! You don’t need to change in order to connect with millennials. In fact, you’ll earn more respect by being you.
- Be generous. With your time, your talents, and your treasures. Generosity is one of the marks of Christianity. Why would we sell our things to take care of others? Because of Jesus.
- Be proud. The biggest mistake we can make is “taming down” our passion or zeal because we don’t want to come across as “weird” or “religious.” Let’s show this generation that God has given us something to be excited about!
What millennials need to see is the group of people who say Jesus has changed their lives actually living like Jesus has changed their lives! So let’s be the church, church!
Written by resident Club Christ blogger, Kory Hale- youth pastor of Crossroads Community Church and a good friend to our Center and Marketing Director, Kendall. Kory loves his wife Faith and Lion, and is expecting another boy in December.