How Your Church Can Empower Millennials to Serve


This year, Millennials are poised to officially become the largest generation. People have been writing for years about how Millennials are “leaving the church in droves," but this generation has also demonstrated an increased interest in evangelism and a passion for social justice.

Christian Millennials see social justice as a response to and reflection of the gospel. Churches that want to reach this generation of adults and increase the impact of their ministry need to reinforce that serving—in whatever capacity we can—is part of following Christ.

Here are some ways your church can empower Millennials to serve.

Highlight needs your church is meeting

One of the biggest reasons people don’t serve is simply because they don’t know how they can help. Millennials care about overwhelmingly huge global and systemic problems, which makes it easy to feel helpless, like they can’t make a difference. 

Your church can offer an outlet for their desire to help, and you can start by connecting what your ministries do to the practical needs in your community.

How are you serving the orphans, widows, homeless, sick, abused, impoverished, and marginalized people? How is your church making a difference in your corner of the world?

By exposing them to the deeper needs your church is meeting, your church can speak to Millennials’ desire to make an impact. 

Share stories of transformation

Personal transformations happen all the time in ministry, both in the lives of your volunteers and the people you serve. It’s a natural result of the gospel at work. But often times, if you aren’t actively involved in a ministry, you don’t get to see the fruit.

Showcasing your ministries’ most powerful testimonies is a great way to encourage Millennials that their involvement really could create meaningful change. And thanks to social media, your church has more opportunities than ever to share these stories with your congregation and beyond.

Publicly appreciate your volunteers

Volunteer appreciation is an important part of staving off ministry burnout. But it can also play a valuable role in recruiting volunteers. That’s why some churches make a point of publicly honoring their volunteers during the service. 

Not only does this increase member awareness of various ministries and serving positions, but it also communicates that service is something your church values. This helps Millennials see that they don’t have to bear the weight of championing causes they care about—they can just participate in the important work your church is already doing.

Mobilizing people to volunteer within your church can’t be accomplished via displays of gratitude only. In fact, only 13% of churches have a healthy volunteer culture and don’t need additional assistance. Those churches aren’t just thanking their volunteers well, but informing, engaging, and nurturing them spiritually. 

Discover the seven hidden factors to empowering millennials and creating a healthy, sustainable volunteer culture at your ministry. Download the free, original report, The Definitive Guide to Finding, Training, and Keeping Church Volunteers, today!

Make it simple to start serving

Millennials are between the ages of 23 and 38. They have jobs, families, and established routines. It’s hard for busy adults to see themselves making another big commitment. Instead of asking new volunteers to commit to serving weekly or investing hours of their time, why not let them try it out first?

Many churches ask people to try serving once before they make a commitment to be part of the usual rotation or participate every week. If that’s possible for your ministries, it can also help you find the right fit for each person who has the desire to serve. By making the process less intimidating, you increase the likelihood that Millennials will feel capable of serving.

Partner with local nonprofits

Your church probably can’t launch a ministry to meet every need in your community. And even if you could, that wouldn’t be the best use of your resources. Odds are good there are already nonprofits and parachurch organizations in your community that are doing an excellent job working in specialized niches you aren’t currently equipped to serve.

If you partner with these ministries and organizations, it affirms causes your church values, and it can also expose church members to new serving opportunities—perhaps one that aligns with a cause they already care about.

Your church doesn’t have to run a ministry for every cause—and you probably shouldn’t. But you can help your congregation see how their passions can translate into service, even if that happens “outside” your church. Ultimately, Millennials care most about making an impact.

Don’t count Millennials out

When you look at the statistics about Millennials and church, it’s easy to feel like they’re a lost cause. But the reality is, Millennials are hungry for a cause to be a part of, and that’s a hunger the church is most equipped to satisfy. The gospel itself brings about complete personal transformation, and the church is also meant to be an agent of change in this world, advancing the kingdom of God and revealing his heart to the world. 

Show Millennials that God cares about the poor and the oppressed, and that he’s using the church to do something about it.

Written by Ryan Nelson who is a copywriter with Pushpay. Ryan Nelson has been a volunteer youth leader with Young Life for nearly a decade. He writes in the Pacific Northwest, where he lives with his wife and twin boys.

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