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Seeking Millennials : Authenticity A Key Factor

If churches can’t begin finding a way to bring millennials back into the fold, their hopes to hand the proverbial baton of faith and church leadership to the next generation will be sadly crushed or abandoned altogether.

One of the biggest questions being asked by many church leaders today is “How do we reach millennials?”

How have we as the church as a whole, failed to show love and the true message of the gospel to an entire generation?

The demographic of “millennials” covers the ages of people now in their mid-20s to mid-30s.

For the Barna Group, a go-to source for insights relating to faith and culture, they completed a study for their book, Sacred Roots. In it, they asked millennials why they do or don’t think that going to church is important. The results from that study revealed a line of thinking and the feeling that church is unnecessary and even harmful in some cases.

However, not all the survey responses went so far in that direction.

Some of those surveyed noted the benefits to church attendance for both their individual needs and the needs of their family members.

Many of the negative connotations cited included those that millennials associate with modern-day church, revolving around a negative experience they had at some point earlier in their life. Among the top negative experiences recalled were those in which a Christian or someone in church leadership had been judgmental, hypocritical, anti-homosexual, or insensitive to others.

Because of examples such as these and others, churches today have had to adapt their methods to seeking millennials.

These people who were surveyed are no longer kids, no longer the ones that are participating in youth group or being brought to church by their parents.

Instead, they are today’s adults, and for some reason, many churches have missed them entirely.

What to do?

There is an entire generation of people living in today’s world who are surrounded in beliefs and thoughts, contrary to what the church should actually be delivering to them.

How have we as the church as a whole, failed to show love and the true message of the gospel to an entire generation?

If churches can’t begin finding a way to bring millennials back into the fold, their hopes to hand the proverbial baton of faith and church leadership to the next generation will be sadly crushed or abandoned altogether.

To keep their churches from failing, many church leaders have started placing more emphasis and importance on reaching millennials. In order to reach this demographic, you have to first understand what it is that millennials expect to receive from a church experience.

When you look at modern-day churches, you see the goal of more lights, better production, more engagement, etc. While these things are an incredible resource at our disposal today, is a “good show” all that millennials are looking for, when they go to church?

Carey Nieuwhof, founding pastor of Connexus Church in Barrie, Ontario, spent some time with a group of millennials, and he learned something he wasn’t quite expecting. He simply asked what they thought church should be like. After a while, discussing many different opinions and views, there was one thing they all agreed upon: authenticity.

“Millennials are asking church leaders who they are, more than they’re asking them what they’ll do,” as noted in 5 Things Millennials for in a Church, careynieuwhof.com.

Millennials have grown up in a culture where marketing is key, and places that market well are generally viewed as more genuine and trustworthy. It’s an interesting method of thinking that some churches have begun to adopt, but marketing is becoming an increasingly important tool for reaching people, especially millennials, in today’s culture. That being said, it can be easy to simply create a good marketing strategy and develop a clean-cut service and put all of the pieces together, to simply form the “ultimate millennial-seeking church service,” but forsake the authenticity piece along the way.

No matter your church strategy, production size, or financial means, millennials need churches to be authentic and genuine. Relationships are important. Love is a nonnegotiable.

In a world that offers false answer after false answer to all the questions that people are constantly trying to understand, the church needs to rise up and be a safe place for people to find the true, biblical answers.

Our message has never changed, and it never should have to; however, our methods should most certainly change as culture develops. The church should lead the way in both character and competency.

“Let love be your highest goal!” 1 Corinthians 14:1a

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