Written by Bethany Jarmul
As a 25 year old, I am smack-dab in the middle of the millennial generation (ages 16-36). I confess that I can’t go anywhere without my iPhone, and I check Instagram multiple times a day. But, I also do something that most of my peers don’t: I go to church.
The facts is, my generation is leaving the church. 72% of millennials are unchurched, and many churches don’t have any millennials as members. As the church, we can’t ignore this dilemma. As followers of Christ, it’s time to re-engage the millennial imagination.
While I can’t say I have the solution to this dilemma, I hope to offer some insights, from the perspective of a millennial church-goer. Here’s five things that any follower of Christ can do to encourage millennials to engage with the church and with Jesus.
1. Be real.
As millennials, we don’t go to church because we think we should, or because someone told us to go. We don’t like sugar-coated answers or people who appear to not be genuine. What we do like is experiencing people who are honest and humble, a God who is real, and life-change that is radical. We go to church because we found a community that accepts us and a God who loves us.
If you want to reach millennials, a great start is to be honest about your past, your flaws and weaknesses, and to model what it looks like to pursue Christ.
2. Be willing to mentor.
We are looking for older men and women who will accept us, love us, challenge us, and mentor us. As a young woman, I’m looking for older women who model what it looks like to pursue Christ through all seasons of life – being a wife, mother, and leader in the workplace and the church.
Paul tells believers in Titus 2:3-5:
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Let’s be honest, developing new friendships can be awkward, especially when there’s a large age gap. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated: inviting someone out for coffee or lunch could be a great start.
3. Point out opportunities to make a difference.
Behind the heartbeat of every millennial is the desire to make the world a better place – whether that’s through volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, donating to Red Cross, or raising awareness about autism. Millennials fuel (and often lead) volunteer and humanitarian efforts across the globe. Even when it comes to our careers, we’ll choose to make a difference rather than earn a large salary.
The church can offer us something that the world can’t: the opportunity to change the world in a way that has an eternal impact! Creating these opportunities for millennials can have powerful results.
4. Embrace change.
As millennials, we always want to improve ourselves, and we like churches that are improving too – trying to reach their audiences where they are, trying to reach the world beyond the church’s four walls.
When we are surrounded by a church community that embraces change in order to reach our lost friends, colleagues, and neighbors, we feel proud. That’s when we want to invite our friends to church.
5. Create leadership opportunities.
While some people view millennials as irresponsible or immature, having that view point limits the potential of millennials. When we are viewed as up-and-coming leaders, when we are given opportunities to grow and lead – that’s when we thrive, that’s when the church thrives.
If one generation encourages and empowers the next generation to become leaders and world-changers for Christ, that’s when we become unstoppable.
Bethany Jarmul is the Public Relations Director at Allison Park Church. She is a small town girl transplanted to the city. She loves vivid stories- whether through novels, movies, or TV shows. And she’s loving living out her own story with her husband of (almost) one year, Josh.