In a recent conversation, a local pastor lamented the lack of young families participating in congregational life. I noted that engaging 25 to 40-year-olds (the Millennial generation) is a near universal challenge. Millennials are less institutionally oriented and less bound by cultural expectations; in other words, you can’t guilt them into coming. On the other hand, they are more social, more connected (especially digitally), and more mission/values driven. Attracting and engaging young families today, has often proven difficult and illusive. If it is your intent to do so, however, there are some decisions that can help engage Millennials and their children.
Here are several decisions that help churches connect with today’s young families:
Decision 1: Choose To Prioritize
A church desiring to engage today’s young families must decide that this is their ministry’s priority. The first hour and first dollar must be committed to addressing the needs and priorities of this generation.
Decision 2: Choose To Listen
Churches that effectively reach young families don’t imagine what might serve them, they ask what serves them. Listening and learning about the challenges and opportunities of young families is essential for next steps in ministry.
Decision 3: Choose To Develop On-Line Conversations
Millennials are the first digital natives. They are connected to each other and to the world via social media. Deciding to nurture on-line conversations about vibrant faith, healthy family and balanced living is essential.
Decision 4: Choose To Create Momentum
People want to be where other people want to be, so create experiences that attract multiple young families. Kid friendly picnics, sports camps, excellent Sunday morning children’s programming are a few examples.
Decision 5: Choose To Connect With Millennials During Their Transitions
Many millennials delay marriage and child rearing. In their late 20’s/early 30’s, however, most will transition. This is a critical time to connect as they seek faith communities to help nurture values-based childrearing.
Decision 6: Choose To Invest In “Beyond Sunday Morning” Ministry
Churches that reach young families look beyond Sunday morning for opportunities to serve. They build playgrounds, establish day-care centers, offer places for young parents to connect and provide mentoring.
Decision 7: Choose To Engage Young Families In Meaningful Service
Millennials are values-driven, experience-oriented and community-connected. They want to do things that are meaningful, hand’s on and shared. Design shared opportunities that serve locally and globally.
Decision 8: Choose To Have the Pulpit Mirror Life
Millennials are practical so pulpits should provide biblical wisdom for daily living. Millennials also tend to be progressive so pulpits should be a voice for justice and intentionally avoid wedge issues designed to divide.
Decision 9: Choose To Create Relational Networks
Millennials are relational. They love hanging out but they want relationships to form naturally. Provide millennials opportunities to connect then help them find ways to intentionally nurture faith in relationship.
Decision 10: Choose To Relax
Millennial families do church differently. For example, they’ll they tend to attend less frequently. Choose to accept this reality without anxiety and find ways to nurture faith and faithfulness in creative new ways.