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Reaching the Millennial Generation for Jesus

Reaching the Millennial Generation for Jesus

People age 18-34 comprise Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1996. The name “millennials” refers to the first high school grads among them in 2000, a millennium year.


study by Pew Research Center found that only 27 percent of millennials attend church weekly. While these young people don’t consider themselves religious, they are spiritual. On a weekly basis, 51 percent report feeling profound peace, and 76 percent are deeply grateful. Roughly half contemplate the purpose of life, and two-thirds believe in heaven.

With such evidence of spirituality, why aren’t millennials coming to church?


Barna Group survey provides insight. When asked questions about faith, 59 percent of millennials who were churchgoers as kids said they’d since stopped. Only 20 percent stated that church was important to them, continuing to attend as adults. Those who rejected church gave three reasons:

  • hypocrisy among Christians
  • immorality of religious leaders
  • irrelevance of religion to real life

In April 2017, Fox News expanded on why church has lost favor among millennials. Most see Christians as judgmental, especially toward gays. Conversely, millennials have liberal views. Sadly, this generation comes from fragmented families, torn apart by divorce. Without fathers as role models, they can’t conceive of God as a heavenly father.

In school, kids were taught that man evolved from apes, refuting God as Creator. Additionally, this age group shies away from tradition.


As followers of Christ, we want to share the blessings He brings to our lives. To reach this generation, we must understand their values, beliefs, and needs. Here are distinguishing characteristics of most millennials:

  • sociable, craving community and collaboration
  • adaptable, embracing change
  • honest, desiring frank communication
  • appreciative, needing recognition of their talents and skills
  • altruistic, driven to support social causes
  • digitally savvy, expert in technology


We need millennials in our pews, pulpits, and social outreaches! Our churches can use an infusion of their attributes – flexibility, zeal, transparency, ingenuity, open-mindedness, capability, and social conscience.

To draw this generation to church, we must satisfy their spiritual thirst. Millennials seek practical application of faith, religion grounded in reality. Jesus, as both God and man, fully understood this need. As you’ve experienced, His teachings are the keys to successful living. Infused with power, they mold us into noble human beings. He has the secret to happiness – loving God and neighbor.

To make our churches millennial-friendly, here are ministry areas on which to focus.


Website – Since millennials spend much of their time online, design a modern church website. Narrate a brief history of your church, highlighting what makes it unique. Post your bulletin, documenting parish news, special events, church services, and ministries. Feature plenty of photos, showing active, enthusiastic parishioners! To track new visitors to your site, create an “I’m New Here” page, inviting responders to leave their contact information.

Blog – Discuss local and global issues from a spiritual viewpoint. Spotlight topics that directly affect Generation Y,such as college debt and unemployment. Encourage young adults to email their opinions, and use them to spark ongoing blog conversation.

Social Media – On Facebook, you can announce church events, launch prayer chains, introduce new worship songs, and share inspiring articles and quotes. Here are details on logistics.

Suggestion Forum – On your website and bulletin, provide an email address by which youth can specify how they’d like to worship and serve. Include a note stating that all suggestions will be considered. Then, discuss the proposals at regular meetings of your church council or administrative board. Those that pass a vote can be forwarded to your Board of Trustees, to actualize ideas involving finances, church property, and legalities.


Millennials want proof that a relationship with Jesus enriches life. They seek personal and practical examples. Pastors can take this approach in sermons, giving their testimonies. A powerful form of evangelism is witnessing, telling others what Christ has done for you. Likewise, during Bible studies, urge people to share how the Holy Spirit guides and teaches them.

Ensure a variety of social groups, by which parishioners can talk about their faith experiences with young adults. Consider holding breakfast meetings and communal suppers. Or you might offer seminars, citing how Christ’s teachings apply to marriage, raising children, working, finances, and family life.


Worship – During services, give young people leading roles, such as greeters, ushers, acolytes, readers, cantors, and choir members.

Bulletin – Teach faith to kids through your church bulletin. On pages in the back section, print activities that portray the Sunday scripture readings. For example, for older kids, you can design a Word Search and Crossword Puzzle. Young ones can color, trace letters, find hidden objects in pictures, navigate a maze, and match images. Children too young to participate in worship can still benefit from it while quietly engaged with the bulletin.

Programming – Consider having “Social Sundays.” Designate one Sunday per month when families meet after services for games, fellowship, and refreshments. For parents with tykes, offer a weekly “God Time” program, during which they collaborate on crafts, hear Bible stories, and sing simple hymns.

Target teens with monthly retreats, each with a specific theme. Vary the time frame, from a few hours to overnight. If your church doesn’t have adequate facilities, contact a local school, and discuss using the building and grounds.

Parent Newsletter – Address parental concerns with informative articles, such as how church involvement empowers teens to reject drugs and alcohol. Include a church calendar, highlighting events designed for families and kids.


To reach teens, you may need to modernize church services. Some communities with substantial funds are either upgrading buildings or investing in new ones. Such churches have a contemporary design, with new sound systems, lighting, and technology. However, if your budget can’t handle major changes, small tweaks can make a huge difference.

You might institute a separate Sunday rock service, featuring a band and contemporary hymns(I am not a fan of Christian Rock and am very opinionated about it) I am all for anything that gets these kids into a good solid Bible and Jesus preaching church. Talented kids can play electric guitars, percussive drums, and electronic keyboards. Another option is folk music, with acoustic guitars, piano, flute, and violin. These worship styles may be governed by your denomination’s administration and music director.

Some churches are shortening services. On average, young people have a 10-minute attention span. Pastors popular with millennials usually preach brief sermons, illustrating messages with stories, practical examples, and personal experiences. Since millennials are visual learners, ministers do well with using props. Another successful format is Question and Answer Sessions with the pastor.

Begin with minor modifications, and assess the response. Don’t be afraid to test-drive a new setup. Worship can take various forms, provided they’re respectful.


Millennials want positions of responsibility by which to channel their skills. Let them lead outreach efforts in your community, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, clothing drives, garage sales, recycling drives, health fairs, and blood drives. Perhaps young adults can give free rides to senior parishioners for doctor appointments and shopping.

Allow millennials to organize and supervise fun projects, such as:

  • free meals to honor firefighters, police, or EMTs
  • planting flowers on the church grounds
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Game Day
  • delivering toys to the Children’s Ward of a local hospital
  • visits to nursing home residents

Allow young people to manage church fundraisers, such as car washes, bake sales, craft fairs, and potluck suppers.

A very effective form of evangelism is social outreach. People meet Jesus in Christians who regard them compassionately and want to meet their needs. Use outreach activities to subtly preach the Gospel. Design a leaflet, introducing what Christ offers, and have copies available at your service activities.


For the most part, millennial kids from broken families want to connect with mature adults. Ensure this opportunity with a church youth group and weekly Bible study.

Another avenue for mentoring is scouting. Programs emphasize outdoor adventure, life skills, and community service. Scouting cultivates virtues like courage, integrity, and reliability. By earning badges, young millennials receive recognition. Moreover, scouting programs have religious roots, acknowledging God and the duty to serve Him.

Adults benefit from “reverse mentoring,” becoming more fluent in digital technology. Reciprocal sharing fosters supportive relationships.

Barna Group advises that young millennials are most inclined to be active in church when they have friendships with Christian adults. By bonding with a young millennial, you’re contributing to the growth of your church.


Let’s commit to inviting millennials to church! Maintain a Web presence, and use social media. Expand your family ministry. Upgrade your worship format, and share how the Holy Spirit helps you. Provide service opportunities with leadership roles. Mentor a millennial in your community.

Above all, embody warm Christian virtues – compassion, patience, humility, and honesty. When a young person sees kindness in your eyes, they’ll want to know why you care. Loving service is the best Christian witness!

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