I recently had a conversation with a church leader about how to reverse the declining attendance of their 20-somethings audience. This same conversation is most-likely happening at thousands of churches across the globe.
There has been much information written on this subject. Most solutions to retaining this generation fall into four categories:
- Creating a new type of creative and more relevant worship service.
- Becoming more cause-minded.
- Incorporating social media.
- Being authentic and real.
While I agree these four solutions are necessary, we need to look even deeper into millennials and how they are feeling. Many experts feel 20-somethings are apathetic.
I want to propose to you that millennials are not just apathetic. Millennials are angry.
This theory flows from a September 2013 Fast Company article featuring comments from Nancy Lublin, CEO of Something.org, and Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Labs. They are experts in helping companies adapt and better understand social change, causes, the needs of millennials and how to more effectively engage them as customers.
Their insights are something all pastors and church leaders can learn from in creating churches angry millennials love to attend.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Admit The World Is Broken – Whether it is global economy, the family unit, the church, the inability to find jobs, or society in general, 20-somethings see the world as broken and change is needed. So how should churches deal with change? Keep reading.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Attracted To Optimism – Churches that retain millennials provide a sense of hope and can better improve the quality of life for people.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Are Rebellious - This is not what you think. Churches who acknowledge things are broken and the rules need to be rewritten have a greater chance of retaining millennials.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Attracted To Empathy – You must feel the pain those in your local community and around the world.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Use Technology To Scale Fast Response – Cell phones and social media have enabled churches to mobilize larger numbers of people to serve those in need faster, cheaper, and more effectively. New levels of connectivity also make it easier for 20-somethings to provide status updates, comments, and recruit additional friends and resources.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Frustrated With The Establishment - And I’m not talking about just being frustrated with denominations and traditional church practices. Statistics are showing frustration with the job market, the government regardless of which party is in charge, gun laws, and the quality and cost of education. Once again, millennials are angry. This creates a great opportunity for churches who can provide real solutions.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Seek Different Types Of Results – Lublin points out young people are looking for a different types of organizations who seek different sets of results. As an example, she proposes organizations create real positions such as a Chief Community Officer (CCO), Chief Well-Being Officer (CWBO), and the intriguing Chief Not-Being-Evil Officer (CNBEO).
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Create Opportunities For Them To Be Part Of The Solution – This is an extraordinarily attractive quality of 20-somethings. They own the results and want to be empowered and given latitude to develop systems which improve the quality of human life for those in desperate need.
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Hate “Dumb Consumption” – 20-somethings are attracted to organizations with strong core values. Core values tell millennials what type of church you want to be. Millennials want churches who will invest in resources and tools enabling people to be happier and healthier over an extended period of time. One question church leaders can ask is what percentage of your budget goes directly to ministry and serving the poor and under-resourced?
- Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Making A Real Difference – Lublin made an interesting observation about the needs of homeless teenagers. Most people think when teenagers arrive at shelters they ask for food. The surprising truth is these teenagers are asking for blue jeans. That’s right, blue jeans. Blue jeans gives teenagers the dignity of feeling like normal kids. This type of creative thinking is the difference between marginal change and real change.
Lublin concludes by saying, “You have to [change] if you want to stay in business. You’re listening to your target market, and your target market cares. They are angry, they’re posting about these things, they’re hungry to have an impact on the world. If you’re someone who sells or will ever sell anything to these people, you should be listening to them. That’s basic business.”
Pastors and church leaders, are you listening to the angry 20-somethings in your church? If so, they will most likely not leave your church.
photo credit: foreverdigital