The average age of the modern (Protestant) pastor is 54, but millennials, those between the ages of 20 and 36 in 2017, are the nation’s largest living generation. In order to minister effectively to younger individuals, pastors should recognize these four key facts about millennials:
1. They Invest in Their Children
Millennials came of age during times of financial difficulty in America. They are money-conscious. 67 percent of millennials stick to a budget, compared to 55 percent of Baby Boomers. The top 20 smartphone apps used by millennials are discount-focused. Nine out of 10 millennials use coupons.
Millennials may be hyper-focused on discounts, but there is one area where they outspend older generations: their children. Over half of millennials already have children, and they’re more than willing to shell out their hard-earned dollars for high-quality children’s products. They are 14 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to splurge for a groundbreaking new product. They are 39 percent more likely to check product labels for positive social and environmental effects. They will invest in sustainable, responsibly-made products, children’s products in particular.
This tells pastors that millennials care about the quality of a church’s children’s program. They want a positive environment for their children, and they’re willing to part with something that’s important to them (money) in order to achieve their goal. When churches prioritize children’s programs, millennials will take notice.
2. They’re Technologically Social
If a millennial hears about a local church that sparks their interest, you can bet their first step is to look up the church’s official Facebook page to find out more. More than 85 percent of millennials own a smartphone and 86 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds use social media.
In this case, the stereotype of the millennial glued to their phone is true, but this can work to the church’s advantage. Use social media and smartphone technology to converse with your millennials. Share events on Facebook. Create a smartphone app that lists service times and streams the latest message. Modern technology and social networks are an opportunity for connection.
3. They Welcome One-on-One Mentorship
According to the Barna Group, millennials who are connected with an older mentor are 59 percent more likely to stay in church. They don’t shun advice from older generations – they welcome it. Millennials are looking for guidance. Is your church providing it?
4. They Crave Authenticity
Millennials don’t care about the volume of the worship band or whether the pastor wears comfortable clothing. If they feel like a church is putting on a show to keep them in their seat, the seat will soon be vacant. There’s a reason 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. They can sense a counterfeit message a mile away.
You don’t have to put together a big production to entertain millennials – you just have to be real. According to David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, millennials are “not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion.” They want to be challenged intellectually. They want to see leaders be honest about everyday struggles.
What strategies does your church use to reach millennials? Share your thoughts in the comments and order our free outreach catalog to find resources to help.