The hot topic of why Millennials are leaving the church is flooding the social media networks as of late. While people’s opinions on what’s causing this departure differ, there is clear evidence within Barna Group’s recent research as to what is working within the church to keep young adults engaged.
“Millennials are rethinking most of the institutions that arbitrate life, from marriage and media, to government and church,” says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “They have grown up in a culture and among peers who are often neutral or resistant to the gospel. And life feels accelerated compared with 15 years ago—the ubiquity of information makes it harder for many to find meaning in institutions that feel out of step with the times. Millennials often describe church, for instance, as ‘not relevant’ or say that attending worship services ‘feels like a boring duty.’” Kinnaman sees the negative response of Millenials toward church as a positive response as it points to a desire for deeper connection.
Barna Group identified five areas where the church can rise to meet the needs of Millennials:
- Make room for meaningful relationships.
The most positive experiences for Millennials in the church are relationships. Millennials who had the experience of an adult mentor or a friendship with an adult member of the church are more likely to be engaged in the church.
- Teach cultural discernment.
Today’s Millennials need help identifying and understanding the culture around them. They need help discerning how to bring their faith into the problems they experience in such a complex time.
- Make reverse mentoring a priority.
Millennials want to be involved in the church now. They aren’t fond of the hierarchical nature of church. They want to be included and given purpose in the life of the community even as young adults.
- Embrace the potency of vocational discipleship.
Showing Millennials how to find their “calling” in connection with their passions and interests in the church is more important than ever. Those who have remained active in the church see their gifts as part of God’s calling.
- Facilitate connection with Jesus.
A deep, personal relationship with God is key to Millennials feeling connected and involved in the church.
For a more in-depth explanation of these five key areas visit the Barna Group.