The Heart of the Millennial Issue

This is the third segment in our Millennials series. (See Part 1 and Part 2)

“Millennials and the Church” research reveals a lot of interesting and conflicting ideas, but what do millennials themselves–and the pastors of dynamic churches that are actually reaching them–have to say? These 7 voices reflect variations on a theme:

Matt Chandler on being relevant (An Inside Look at a New Generation of Pastors)

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ and orthodox Christianity has always drawn from among culture, even in the most pagan of times, those who would put their trust and hope and belief in Christ…And so, in my understanding of history, if you’ll just trust in the sufficiency of scriptures, and preach and proclaim in such a way that people can understand it, then I think God’s going to draw unto Himself.”


Corrie Mitchell on the messages that get at the heart of millennial’s true needs (5 Churchy Phrases Millennials Want to Hear)

Many churches have tried to reinvent by bringing in a hipster pastor, amping up social media presence, and opening a church café — but none of that will bring Millennials to the pews. Neither will watered-down Christian doctrine. Deep down, what Millennials crave is a church that will speak Jesus into our daily lives in a meaningful, authentic way.


Teddy James on building multi-generational relationships (What Do Millennials Want From Your Church)

“This is the most important point I could make. Barna has been researching millennials for years. One study focused on five reasons millennials stay in church. One of the biggest reasons was multi-generational relationships. While the author of the research points out that correlation does not mean causation, it cannot be ignored that “seven out of ten millennials who left the church did not have a close friendship with an adult and nearly nine out of ten never had a mentor at the church.”

(Tip: Can’t say it enough: Build multi-generational relationships. Consider a Support-a-Student ministry.)


Brett McCracken, Gen Y author of the book Hipster Christianity (How to Keep Millennials in the Church? Let’s Keep Church Un-cool.)

I’m a Millennial, but I am weary of everyone caring so much about why Millennials do this or don’t do that. I’m sorry Millennials, but I’m going to have to throw us under the bus here: we do not have everything figured out. And if we expect older generations and well-established institutions to morph to fit our every fickle desire, we do so at our peril…“If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that ‘cool Christianity’ is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.”


Emma Sleeth, student, on being like Jesus (From You Lost Me, David Kinnaman)

“I want you to be someone I want to grow up to be like. I want you to step up and live by the Bible’s standards. I want you to be inexplicably generous, unbelievably faithful, and radically committed. I want you to be a noticeably better person than my humanist teacher, than my atheist doctor, than my Hindu-next-store neighbor. I want you sell all you have and give it to the poor. I want you to not worry about your health like you’re afraid of dying. I want you to live like you actually believe in the God you preach about.

I don’t want you to be like me; I want you to be like Jesus. That’s when I’ll start listening.


Louis Giglio, on the spiritual hunger of millennials (Millennials May Be Leaving the Church But they’re Walking Toward Christ)

“They want something that’s true, something that’s real. They don’t want to be played, they don’t want to be sold anything. They want something, on the other hand, that’s challenging and demanding, something that’s worth their life. Something they can walk away from and say, “That’s worth me giving my life.” Once you put Jesus in that position for them, it’s amazing to see the transformation that comes and the purpose and meaning that comes to people’s lives.”


Francis Chan, on increasing our expectations (From You Lost Me, David Kinnaman)

“We have done everything humanly possible to make church “easy.” We kept the services short and entertaining, discipleship and evangelism optional, and moral stands low. Our motives were not bad. We figured we could attract more people by offering Jesus with minimal commitment…There is a new generation rising. Young adults are studying the Bible without missing the obvious. They see how shallow methodology is incongruent with the Jesus of Scripture who asked everything of his followers. They are bored with Sunday morning productions and long to experience the Holy Spirit…”


Do you see in these comments, as I do, a clarion call for the church to return to deep, authentic Christianity? The challenge is not to attempt a return to the past but to seek restoration in this age–a task that cannot be managed without prayer, humility and the Spirit’s guidance.

Meaningful relationships with Christ and each other have always been critical to the church’s health and strength. As a software company dedicated to churches, we believe that, in our times, that means making the most of technology to reach millennials and stay connected. And we’re not the only ones who feel that way:

Barna Group on technology and Millennials (How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith)

“Certainly the Internet has made finding answers to questions—any questions—easier than ever. Whether it’s curiosity about a new restaurant or matters of faith, Millennials are taking their inquiries to the search bar. Nearly six out of 10 practicing Christians (59%) say they search for spiritual content online, but it’s not only Christians doing this kind of surfing. Three out of 10 of all Millennials are too, which may open up a new field of opportunity for churches hoping to understand and connect with these souls in cyberspace.”