Churches are scrambling to attract more Christian millennials, but do church planners have the right recipe for success in mind?
Picture this: a church designed to attract Christian millennials: What would it look like?
For many churches, the answer seems to be a coffee bar, high-tech motion lights and colors, even fog machines puffing during high-volume music followed by a pastor walking out in business casual if not, even worse, skinny jeans.
It’s the modern look of contemporary churches that seem to be crafted for the younger generation.
But there might be a problem.
Christian millennials may well be looking for something else.
Exponential quotes Leadership Journal Managing Editor Drew Dyck, who said, “when we portray God as a cosmic buddy, we lose them (they have enough friends). When we tell them that God will give them a better marriage and family, it’s white noise (they’re delaying marriage and kids or forgoing them altogether). When we tell them they’re special, we’re merely echoing what educators, coaches, and parents have told them their whole lives.”
What Dyck and others say is one thing millennials do want, however, is authenticity. Millennials, they say, have been “advertised to” their entire lives and have become good at recognizing not only when it’s happening but whether it’s true and can be proved. They want honesty, and if a church can’t deliver, the younger parishioners won’t remain.
Another element of success to attract Christian millennials may well be presenting a church that is a place of rest and refuge, not more action. It’s not that millennials don’t want to be part of something active as they explore their faith, but rather that they need something of a breather from their everyday lives. Too many contemporary churches, it seems, don’t offer much “peace” in their frenetic worship styles that feel too much like rock concerts. For some of us who are far too old to be considered millennials, we recognize the fact that what might have looked cool and cutting edge a few years back suddenly feels too loud and too much show and too little genuineness.
Here’s one other thing millennials say they’d like to see in a church: a lack of politics. Unfortunately, too many churches today have yet to understand that message. Being a good Christian doesn’t — and shouldn’t — mean allegiance to one political party over another.
That particular problem is a turn-off for some of us who are well-past the millennial age group, for that matter.