3 Factors That Keep Millennials Coming Back To Church
By: Nicole Cochran
You’ve probably heard the statistics about Millennials in the church: 59% of those who have attended church in the past have dropped out at some point, and more and more “regular attenders” identify themselves as those who attend every four to six weeks, rather than the old measure of three times a month.
And yet I am a Millennial who, through some personal battles and my fair share of absent Sundays, found a church that I love and call home. So what did my church do right?
While many have left the church due to theology or disbelief, there is a large group that simply feels disconnected or abandoned by the church.
Here are three ways churches can avoid these detachments and expand their reach to more generations.
1. Offer opportunities to build community
I’m the person that finds my “community” and doesn’t stray far from it. What I’ve found at my current church is that they are intentional about connecting its members with some kind of small group. Small groups are incredibly beneficial for building relationships and getting to know people deeper outside of an hour-long service. It’s not just about the group itself, but rather, the opportunity to bond, share with, and invite others into the community.
There are a variety of community-building opportunities outside of the small group model. Young adult groups, service projects, women’s/men’s gatherings, and even running clubs are just a few examples of these. The culture of the church should push people to engage with strangers at the coffee table or in the seat next to them, building bonds and community together.
2. Seek a global mission
Almost every Sunday there is mention of how our church is working in and serving our community. Whether it is writing letters and signing a petition for anti-trafficking efforts, praying over a missions team about to serve overseas, or partnering with organizations welcoming refugees, the church’s vision and mission are forefront in all that they do.
Step back and think about if your church is just talking about serving, or actually on the front lines of your community and focused on missions. It could make a world of difference in engaging your current members.
3. Foster an environment of trust
One of my first Sundays visiting my (now) church, the teacher discussed his former struggle with pornography. I couldn’t tell you what the rest of the message was about, but I do remember that his honesty and forthrightness struck me. It’s a little shocking that candor is so hard to find, especially in the church, but it often is.
People can see through false fronts and hidden truths. It's been said, “People in the church were more invested in the process of being right than in the process of being honest.”
The top reasons why I stuck with my church is its welcoming spirit, dedication to plugging in, values and causes to promote and partner with, and unbridled honesty. Take a step back and evaluate if/how your church can better welcome its members.
Where could your church improve in retaining members and guests?