“Well”, someone ventured, “you were authentic. You told stories. There was nothing fake about what you said.”
“And I did reference Greek once,” I replied. We all laughed because clearly this meant my teaching was ‘deep.’
Then they started talking about what they valued. Things like integrity, transparency, honesty, grace and truth.
And this is when (finally), they all agreed.
That’s also when things really came together in my mind, and resonated with what we’re learning from Millennials where I serve at Connexus, and what I’ve seen elsewhere: When it comes to reaching Millennials, maybe the question we need to ask isn’t ‘what do we need to do?’ as much as ‘who do we need to be?’
Bottom line? Millennials are asking church leaders who they are…far more than they’re asking what they’ll do.
So what are the implications for all of us who lead churches?
1. Millennials Think Character Matters Most
Character will determine effectiveness in reaching Millennials far more than competency does.
This is both great news and frightening news.
The good news? An authentic experience in a church with B+ worship experience beats a hollow experience in a church with A+ programming.
That’s good news to every church that doesn’t have the expertise, budget or staff to pull off the experience larger churches offer.
But the frightening part is there’s a high-powered magnifying glass aimed at the character of every church leader, and especially the senior leaders.
So how well is your church doing? Here’s a post that can help determine the kind of people Millennials often want to hang around (and a bit of a diagnostic test for your church).
2. Budget Matters Less
The really good news is that things like integrity, authenticity and a deep sense of mission cost nothing financially. So they are accessible to everyone.
Sure, they will cost you deeply in terms of your personal walk. They will cause you to be brutally honest, to repent, to change, to grow and to trust God at whole new levels, but the cost of discipleship is always worth paying.
But if you live in a space where you think “we can’t reach the next generation because we have no money,” think again.
In fact, here’s a list of other church growth strategies that are absolutely free.
3. Relationships Count to Millennials
What do young adults want?
Your time. Your heart. Your attention. And a chance to actually connect with people.
Churches that elevate community will do better with Millennials than churches that don’t.
So prioritize chances to serve, connect and grow together. A great small group strategy and serving strategy can help so much with this.
Community doesn’t mean that everyone has to know everyone (a myth by which many small churches live and die). But it does mean everyone needs to know someone.
The importance of community is something both Orange and Kara Powell believe is critical to reaching the next generation. I agree. Kara’s new book, Growing Young, which comes out this fall (which I’ve had the privilege of pre-reading), highlights this even more.
Relationship is something every church can be great at.