When I was a youth minister in my 20s, I had one church leadership committee (most of whom were over 50) turn to me and ask what the one solution was for our church’s decline in members, and I could feel the pressure of the modern American church turning to me for the answer. All I knew to say was, “Well, there’s not one thing you can do, like start some magical program. It’s a deeper issue.” I could tell they were disappointed.
A few posts ago we started thinking about why so few people are a part of churches now than they were in the past. This will be an ongoing topic to ponder. Right now let’s think about “Millennials.” That term covers people born between the early 1980s and 2000, so young adults and upper teenagers today. And Millennials are having a hard time with churches today.
In the article “What Millennials Don’t Want from the Church” the author laments, “The most frustrating part of being a Millennial is that my church does not understand me.” Yikes! Well then, how can we understand them better?
What’s ironic is that churches have been wanting to “attract more young people” since… well forever. Lately the thinking has been, “What’s the solution? Ooh, start a praise band, use Twitter, hang out at a coffee shop. Then they’ll be sure to come!” But it’s not an easy answer quick fix sort of issue.
Here’s what the article author has to say:
Millennials want real authentic, worship and real, authentic churches. We want churches that want to have a relationship with us. We do not want churches to immediately advertise to us how great their contemporary service is, how amazing their young adult Sunday school class is, how sizable their group of young adults is…. If churches want Millennials to walk through their doors and stay there, they need to learn how to fully incorporate us and our ideas….. Many of us care and want to be involved in a church, we just have not found ones that will let us in.
Wow! I like that response. You know why? Because I think Hickory Rock is a place where that can happen. Maybe it’s good that we are a small intimate church that doesn’t have money for big flashy worship shows. But what we do have is warmth and relationships. We have a loving family of faith.
Our size is a blessing, because when you come, you are important. You don’t get lost in the crowd. You contribute something every time you’re here.
So let us joyfully open our doors to all Millennials (and Gen Xers and Boomers and Builders etc.) and say, “We want you to be involved. We want you to bring yourself and your ideas. Help us think creatively about building God’s kingdom. Help us not get stuck in stale routines. Help us notice new ways to follow God’s Holy Spirit in our community.”
As with all new ideas, we might take baby steps at first, but Hickory Rock is a supportive place, one that is willing to courageously open itself up to new movements of the Spirit.
May the road rise up to meet us…