Church Growth

Connecting with Millennials: 5 Best Practices for Churches

This guest post covers how churches can engage with millennials. The article is brought to you by our friends at Vision2, a giving engagement platform for the Church. It's part of our series on church growth.

Your church has almost certainly heard a lot about the millennial generation, a term that refers to young adults roughly between the ages of 22 and 37. While they may be grouped together in a single generation, it’s impossible to generalize about such a large and varied array of people.

However, understanding the cultural moment in which millennials have grown up as well as some of the broader interests that many of them have expressed are both important to communicate effectively with them.

Working to connect with millennials is an essential step in ensuring your church community’s future and helping it to grow into a welcoming environment for members of all generations. 

Your church’s millennial members value the spiritual development and sense of connectedness with God and relationships built with one another provided by your church. They’ll want to give back to your church community and will appreciate having multiple options for doing so.

 

1. Provide multiple ways to give back to the church community.

When your church provides programming that brings your members together as a community and facilitates their spiritual growth, they’re going to want to give back to ensure that those programs continue and expand to serve even more members.

Your millennial members will appreciate the opportunity to direct their support toward the ministries and programs that have been most transformative for them. Whether they’re helping their church grow or helping their wider community prosper, millennials want to be able to see the changes they’re making in the world and are willing to give in order to make that happen!

Most millennials are extremely comfortable and highly competent when it comes to technology, so it’s likely that many of them will prefer to make tithes, offerings, and other gifts using online tools. Because millennials (and members of all generations!) are often passionate about particular causes, you’ll also want to provide them with the option to direct their support toward a particular cause.

Thinking about implementing online tithing to encourage younger members of your church to offer their support? You and your members will benefit the most from these convenient giving options when you:

Provide multiple online giving options. While it’s essential to have an online giving page on your church’s website, don’t forget that millennials and other younger members are rarely if ever without their smartphones. You can make giving easy for them by selecting a church online giving platform that offers mobile giving and text-to-give service.

Continue to offer traditional giving methods as well. Especially for young adults who grew up in church, the act of giving via cash or check may be closely connected to the meaning of the gift for these individuals. Encourage traditional as well as online giving methods, and look for a church giving platform that makes it easy to process gifts made in any way that your members choose.

Spread the word about the giving methods you offer. When it comes time to speak to your congregation about giving, you’ll be most successful when you keep your message focused on your mission. They’ll be happy to try out the convenient giving methods your church offers when you illustrate the ways in which their gifts facilitate your church community’s continuation and growth.

Giving is essential to the future of your church, but it’s far from the only aspect of your church’s operations in which you can use technology to better connect with millennial members. Reach out to them online to keep them informed about your church’s mission and programming.

 

2. Meet millennials where they are: online.

Before we begin, let’s dispel a couple of myths:

  • First, millennials aren’t the only generation of adults using smartphones and social media.
  • Second, millennials and other members of your church can use social media and other online channels in ways that aren’t as superficial as critics of these platforms often assume.

Your church can use technology and social media to reach out to all of your members, including millennials, in ways that are longer-lasting and more meaningful than you may expect.

The most successful online outreach for your church is going to be one that is genuinely expressed and true to your mission. Don’t worry about being overly trendy: millennials are still looking for messages of deeper significance from your church. Online platforms are helpful in that they allow you to share these messages more efficiently and with wider audiences.

Whether your church is just getting started developing your online presence or you’re looking to expand your offerings, you may want to consider:

Live streaming your service. Live streaming your weekly services doesn’t hurt in-person attendance and can help you reach many more members—including millennials—who are likely to attend your church in person when this initial message resonates with them. Staying connected with busy members who are traveling or those who are unable to attend are additional reasons to live stream your services.

Developing a social media presence. Social media’s multimedia capabilities present potentially beneficial opportunities for your church. You can use popular platforms to share photos and videos of your members completing service projects in your community, demonstrating to viewers the ways in which your members are positively impacting the world around them.

Updating your website. For many of your members, especially younger ones, your church’s website is their main source of news on your upcoming services and programming as well as one of the most convenient places to give. Ensure that your website is updated regularly so that it contains the most relevant information and is easy for visitors to navigate regardless of their level of familiarity with your church.

One of the most engaging ways in which your church can use your social media accounts, website, and other online communication methods is to spread the word about upcoming events. Millennials will be motivated to attend these events when your church takes their ideas and feedback into consideration.

 

3. Host events designed by and for millennial members.

Church events present the perfect opportunity for your members to get to know one another, share their ideas for helping your church achieve your mission, and serve others in your community.

Your church can engage your millennial members by hosting an event that is planned by and intended for young adults. Many millennials have demonstrated in their spending habits that they tend to prioritize experiences over things. Church events are a wonderful way to engage them in experiences that help grow and strengthen their church communities.

Great church events come in all forms, but they share a focus on fellowship and furthering your mission. Designate at least one of your planned events specifically for millennial members. Ensure that the members of your congregation who plan the event, from the activity to the location in which you’re holding it, are members of the generation you’re reaching out to.

Millennial members of your church are likely to enjoy planning and participating in fun community-building activities such as:

Community outreach days. Your church members can partner with a local charitable organization to assist with their operations, learn more about how their organization serves your shared community, and grow closer together as a congregation in the process.

Events in support of your church’s programming. Is your church hoping to expand your children’s programming, send members on a mission trip, or move to a new place of worship? For these and other projects, you depend on the support of your church community. Millennial members can take the lead in planning and hosting an event or project that encourages other members of all generations to give to these important causes. You can find some effective and adaptable ideas for these types of events here.

Church community events. Whether they choose to host an event especially for young adult members of your church or for the whole congregation, your millennial members may enjoy planning an event at your church for fun and fellowship. Community events are a great opportunity to encourage additional giving from members. Vision2 provides more information on church giving software, which can help bring your church community together at your event in support of a mission or project.

The key to hosting church events that will resonate with millennial members is to listen to their ideas and allow them to take the lead when it comes to reaching out to other members of their generation. Your church can do the same with your programming, asking millennials for their feedback as you work to create meaningful opportunities for them.

 

4. Create church programming that addresses millennial members’ interests.

Millennial members of your church will respond best when your church creates programming that addresses their interests and needs. While these interests vary from individual to individual, a common thread among many members of this generation is that they tend to be committed to causes and related service projects.

Your church will attract and retain millennial members when you take their concerns and interests into account during your programming.

Facilitate conversations between millennial members and leaders in your church so that you can work together to develop the programs and community projects that best balance their concerns with your church’s interests. Gather feedback from millennial members when it comes time to:

Grow your church. To attract more young adult members, listen to your church’s current millennial members when they provide feedback on the structure of your worship services, the types of events you host for them, your communication strategies, and your giving options. You’ll learn how to get the most out of your services and other programming, attracting new members and improving your current members’ experiences.

Implement new programs. The most successful and well-supported programs are those that your members are eager to use. If your church has a few plans in mind but you aren’t sure which of them your millennial members would prefer, ask them!

Encourage giving. Talking about giving to members can be daunting for churches, who want their congregations to focus on their missions and the good work they do. Input from millennials can help your church determine how best to approach young adult members when it comes to giving. Your church may also decide to get help from millennial members in choosing church fundraising ideas such as these from Funds2Orgs.

Whenever your millennial members (or any of your members!) contribute to your church, whether that’s by making a gift, participating in a community outreach project, or helping to plan an event, ensure that you thank them for their valuable contributions.

 

5. Thank millennial members for their involvement.

Your church emphasizes the importance of showing gratitude in your members’ lives. Demonstrate your own gratitude by thanking your members whenever they contribute to your church.

Millennial members value personalized and thoughtful thanks, even when they receive the message via an online channel.

Looking for fresh ways to thank your members for sharing their ideas, time, or financial resources with your church community? Especially for young adult members and others who are used to interacting with your church online, you may wish to try:

A video announcement. Church video announcements are excellent for big news such as the success of an event that your members made possible. Thank them in the video and share it on your social media accounts. Your church can also use videos to document and share the wonderful work your members are doing in your community.

A social media post. Highly personalized and easy to share with many people at once, social media posts are a fun way to thank individuals for their support and their hard work furthering your church’s mission.

A traditional thank-you note. Everyone loves to receive a handwritten thank-you message responding to a particular instance of generosity. Try combining a traditional note with an online version to express your gratitude through multiple channels.

When you engage your millennial members with programming that addresses their interests, listen to their feedback, and thank them for their involvement, they’re sure to continue their involvement in your church community. Their dedication will provide your church with more opportunities to grow.

 

Final Thoughts + Further Reading

Millennial members are looking for many of the same qualities in a church community as your members of older generations: a welcoming place in which to serve others and grow closer to God. When you communicate with your millennial members effectively and provide them with multiple options to support the programs they care about, they’re sure to remain dedicated members of your church. Here's more related reading:

What Your Church Can Do to Attract Young Adults

3 Easy Ways to Grow Your Church

5 Ways to Attract New Members to Your Church

 

Kingsley Allen has been involved in designing, developing, and operating software for over 25 years. Much of his recent career has been invested in helping churches leverage technology to grow and reach people. As VP of Product Development at Vision2, he helps guide the continued development of Vision2 into a world-class giving engagement platform.

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