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6 Reasons Why Millennials Aren’t Attracted to the Church

Let's be honest, we can do better.

If we are honest the church in America is not doing well reaching the younger generation. Now I know there are churches that are doing great things, but as a whole we have a lot of room to improve.

I’m not a pessimist, or a glass half full, kind of guy. I like to classify myself as a realist. I know, I know. All realists are really just pessimists that cannot admit it. But I truly believe I’m a realist. I guess you can be the judge if I am or if I’m just in denial.

I don’t want this to come off as the sky is falling. I don’t think that is true. But I do think there are some easy things we can do so that the younger generations can know the love of God and find the benefits of living in community.

For lack of a better word I am going to use the word millennial throughout this post. I don’t really like that word because it comes with a lot of baggage. But I don’t know of another word that would adequately describe this (my) generation.

If you want some of the raw data on the state of the church here’s a few studies:
Barna | State of the Church
Pew | Religious Landscape
Pew | Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Towards Religious Groups
Pew | The Changing Global Religious Landscape

These studies don’t paint the brightest of futures for the western church. Particularly with the next generation. Now I don’t believe we are all going to hell in a hand basket. And I certainly don’t think all hope is lost. In fact I believe now in the church more than ever. I’ve seen a lot of articles talking about how the church is dying. And I cannot disagree more. I don’t believe it is dying. I believe it just needs a shift in model.

For all of church history the model for church has been changing to suit the culture. Just look at recent church history in the past 100 years, and you will see all the innovations that have come and gone.

I believe that these studies that are coming out are pointing to the dire need of a major shift in how church is done in our culture.

As a millennial, if that’s what you want to call me, and someone who works in the church full-time, I find myself in a unique spot. I believe it’s time to start thinking about what needs to change and what needs to stay in our churches. If we don’t, the church in America will slowly die and will certainly lose all credibility.

Here’s 7 things that I have found that are turning the younger generations away from the church. I have heard these in conversations, read them in comment sections, and even been frustrated with them in my own life.

Lack of Real Community

I know what you are thinking… We have an awesome small group ministry, plus you can always grab coffee before service and hang out. While those things can promote community those simply aren’t enough. The main focus of the average church is their Sunday service. Which for all the good they do, the biggest weakness is they lack community.

The focus of energy in most churches is on what’s happening on stage on Sunday and not the community Monday-Saturday.

I’m not saying the church service as we know it is bad. But we must recognize what it cannot do. If we want all people to find a place in our churches then we have to put more effort into how we do community.

Sermons are Still the Primary Teaching Tool

At one point sermons were the best way to communicate the Gospel. Then someone got the genius idea to put sermons on tape cassettes so you could listen anywhere. And then CDs came along, and now mp3s. Those were all great ideas.

But now it’s time to rethink how we teach our churches about Jesus. I, along with many 20-30 year-olds, am constantly listening to podcasts. And there is so much GREAT stuff out there. They are conveying information in new and refreshing ways. Many Christians have hopped on board and started talking about the Gospel and what it means to follow Jesus. And this generation is eating it up.

My question is why haven’t churches done this yet?!

I’m not talking about putting your sermons on a podcast. Every church does that. I’m talking about crafting a podcast specifically designed to be a podcast. One that can tackle some of the tough, and historically unapproachable, topics. I did a search this past week looking for churches doing this, and I came up with 2… I’m sure there are more. But the point is the vast majority of churches are not teaching in the primary format that culture has become adapt to using.

I suspect the sermon as we know will slowly disappear or at least massively change. The way to teach the Gospel effectively to the younger generations will be through technology.

All (or most) of the Energy Goes Into the Church Service 

We already talked about this a little in the first point, but I think this goes at a deeper point. Most millennials aren’t interested in just going to church; they want to participate in church.

This means that the church needs to provide opportunities to be a part of the church on Sundays AND throughout the week. Community is a big deal. Also the church needs to provide opportunities to serve in the local community.

I know most churches will respond: we do that! We have Life Groups, and we give to a lot of outreaches. While many churches do that they have not geared it in a way that connects with millennials.

Lack of Trust in Institutions

In previous generations large institutions meant credibility. However they increasingly mean corruption to the younger generations. The natural bent of millennials is to not trust institutions. That certainly doesn’t mean every church is corrupt. In fact I would say the exception is the corrupt church, not the rule. But it is important to recognize the lens in which the church is viewed through.

In order for churches to gain trust back they have to show, and prove, that they are trustworthy by being transparent.

Their Thoughts Aren’t Valued

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a story like this: A young person walks into church with a new or different idea on how to run a ministry of the church. Rather than be heard they are just shut down with an excuse on why that wouldn’t work. Or that they are too young and inexperienced.

Millennials need to be heard and their ideas valued. In fact many of their ideas will benefit the church. But sadly most of these ideas are left on the ground because no one took time to listen.

Think about this for a minute… Who’s going to be leading the church in 10-20 years? Yeah, millennials. If we don’t give them the opportunity now in a way where they can grow and learn there won’t be any qualified leaders in 10 years when we need them.

The Church is Not a Safe Place to Wrestle With Issues/Theology

This is a big one for me. The church should be the safest place to bring whatever is going on in your life out into the open and deal with it. But often the church is not a safe place to wrestle with your theology. If you don’t align with what the church believes then it’s the door.

The church should be a safe place to question Biblical inherency, gender roles, what’s sin and what isn’t, talk about doubts, and even disagree about issues. The church should be the safest place to figure life out and what you believe. But more often then not the church is a place where you have to have all your “stuff” together. And if your life is a mess or you don’t prescribe to the same theology then you aren’t welcome.

We should be able to engage in healthy conversations about theology. And when we disagree have maturity and pursue unity. The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that I think disqualifies someone from the body of Christ is an unwillingness to grow.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?

If you are a millennial and are frustrated with the church or have left your church I would love to hear from you! Share your story in the comments!

60 comments on “6 Reasons Why Millennials Aren’t Attracted to the Church

  1. Reblogged this on Ginge in Germany and commented:
    Very thought-provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joe Butler

    I just have a question about your last point. Isn’t the Bible the place we seek answers for the questions that you posed? Isn’t it the church’s responsibility to follow God’s word. I don’t mean we don’t get to ask questions in order to tackle tough ideas that we may not understand, but when has God’s word regarding the things you bring up been up for debate? While there is much room for opinion in God’s word, there are many things we must trust God on and not feel like we have to debate them in order to get our own way.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a great point! I might have a different view then what is common today.

      The only theologically issue that I would hold too is that Jesus is God, He died for our sins, and is the only way to heaven. That is what a Christian is by definition.

      I think unity is more important then almost every issue out there. And if someone is pursuing Jesus and prayerfully comes to a different conclusion then me (even on a major issues) we should still be able to be in community. The church should not split over these issues.

      That’s not a common belief. But with the younger generations I think we are going to see a myriad of different beliefs enter the church. And the church should a be place where they can come and receive help to sort and pray through whatever it is. Even if they come to a different conclusion.

      The churches job is to point to Jesus, not claim they have all the right theology. How arrogant for us to assume that we have it all right? And because someone disagrees they are automatically wrong.

      What would you say the core “non-negotiables” for being a Christian?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Joe Butler

        I believe the Bible is very clear what is non-negotiable. As you already mentioned, the gospel message of salvation through Jesus is pretty cut and dry. The Holy Spirit being the one who helps to make us a new creation would be another. There are many references to sin, sometimes particular sins, but most importantly, anything that we put before God (idolatry) or that makes us unholy in his eyes. The goal of the church is to be the unified bride of Christ, to help one another pursue righteousness, and to show Jesus to the world through our example and the gospel message.
        I think you hit on a great point by mentioning the lack of real community within the church. If we’re honest, we’re all chasing our own idea of the dream life, that we make it difficult for ourselves to have what the first century church had…community. I’m not sure I have the answer, but if we could fix even that one point, the church would have a tremendous impact on the world today. As long as we stay busy doing our own thing, we really just look like the rest of the world to unbelievers.
        In my home congregation, we are beginning to, as you said, plan more activities outside of the worship services that serve the community and show what walking with Christ is meant to look like. It’s amazing to see people become fired up serving God in their own special ways, but also together as a group with a united purpose.
        I appreciate your desire to confront some of the problems facing the church in regards to millenials. While I may be just outside that age group (41), it’s people like you and I who will lead the church into the future if we’re willing to face the tough issues and are willing to put the work in to fix them.

        Liked by 3 people

    • I think the point is that is many churches people cannot bring up the topic they wish to ask about. Nobody knows everything and everybody has a question or two at some point. Many times people are afraid to even ask to get an answer because of how others might react. Yes, God’s word is our answer book, but how many times has the average person read through it, and if they did read through it, do they remember every detail? Sometimes it helps to ask a question, talk about it, and leave with an answer.


  3. I think the church (institution) needs to have a clear purpose and go with it. Is it supposed to make sure everyone is in a community and connects to others? Or is that the responsibility of the church (the people)? Does the church (institution) need to be the place to ask/answer questions? Or should that happen within the church (people)? In my opinion, that’s where people (millennials or not) are getting confused and conflicted and disappointed. To me, the church (institution) seems to be trying to be everything to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s more that the church is being TOLD to be everything to everyone. I totally agree that we have placed requirements on what the church institution (and thus it’s leadership) should be and do, that the church can’t and was never meant to fulfill. If the millennials are looking for relationship, one can’t have that with an institution. This has to be person to person. It won’t be found on Sunday morning, when the “church” gathers for worship. It won’t be found in programs. It’s found in intentional relationships. The question I have is, do the millennials have any responsibility in being a part of making these relationships happen, or is this a one way street?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally agree. Everyone (as individuals) should be responsible for making relationships happen but many seem to think that the church (institution) should do it and that what the church does provide for events are enough so then they don’t seem to seek relationship with anyone else outside of their church (institution).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What about people who cannot attend a chruch due to a disability? I would add there needs to be chruch service and events that people like me can access through a website or app.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That certainly is an issue that the majority of churches are not addressing!


    • Many church do have both a website and an app. Often, though, smaller churches are behind the tech curve when it comes to stuff like this. If you want to watch some great services, check out Sun Valley Community Church’s website (they also have an app too).


  5. I’m going to paint with a wide brush here. I realize not all millennials are what I describe below nor are they like what was described in this post. But this has been my experience and here’s my rant:

    I am so tired of this whole millennials not liking church thing. I read recently that church should no longer have buildings and should just be all online in order to reach these kids. They can then just “go to church” on their phones, in their jammees, with their fruitloops cereal in their laps. Boy would that save money in church budgets, not to mention the fights over paint color and rug material.

    A huge hindrance to all 5 points above is what I call, “the generation of the better offer”. They will NOT commit to anything short or long term because something else may come up that is better and they don’t want to miss out. Try to have a small group and get the same people to show up every week. Or just try to have dinner with your own grown kids! They claim they want relationship, want to be engaged during the week, want to deal with hard stuff but then they don’t show. If community is such a big deal, then THEY have to put out some effort to make that happen. But, no, we have to do all the wooing and coddling and doing everything their way and then give them a participation trophy at the end. For about 14 years I was part of leadership in a gen-x/millennial ministry of a church and they just won’t commit. It was a constant problem. Even those in leadership would say they were coming to a meeting and then not show. Ministries bend over backwards to provide something for them to do their thing, and they don’t show.

    So we serve up pablum on Sunday mornings so they won’t be “triggered” by something said (take clear teaching on sin, for example, their particular sin) and won’t come back. We have rock concert worship times in hopes of keeping them coming, with Starbucks coffee served to keep them awake. and they stay away in droves…

    What if these kids were born in 40AD? Do you think the church of ACTS would have been different because of one demographic not liking people dying because of lying about a land transaction, or all night preaching from the traveling evangelist or having their leaders thrown in jail and beaten up or all night prayer meetings? It’s like they feel they invented Christianity and can then model any part of it they want to suit their own pleasures, their own sensibilities, their own wants, their own desires.

    Call me cynical but I have dealt with these kids for a long time and they may tell a pollster what they want but they will not put out any effort to make it happen or participate when it’s provided. a church can change all they want to try to reach these kids but it will all be in vain if they don’t take some responsibility (a trigger word for them) for their part.

    more to your points:

    Lack of Real Community: they don’t show up when this is tried. how about if THEY seek out these relationships? how if THEY go to some old folks and befriend them? They are supposed to be ADULTS! They need to start acting like one….

    Sermons are Still the Primary Teaching Tool…teaching on tough issues: the internet is flooded with preaching/teaching on just about every topic one could imagine. Are these kids going to listen to “their” pastor cover the same material just because they know him? Would they even listen at all? Are they listening at all?

    All (or most) of the Energy Goes Into the Church Service: Maybe for small churches that’s all the energy and money they have. The Church of the Large Parking Lot can afford to have 13 ministers on staff, but if the average size of church in the US is about 75 who regularly attend, then the pastor has his hands full.

    Lack of Trust in Institutions: I totally get this. But is this an excuse then to bail out and have nothing to do with it? What about putting all that supposed energy they have to make it trustworthy again instead of living with their significant other outside of marriage? If they are living in sin, then don’t throw rocks at those who they think are crooks. Log in the eye thing, comes to mind.

    Their Thoughts Aren’t Valued: I covered this above. In my contact with these kids, all they want to do is: they share, “communicate” and you share and everybody shares, aren’t we having a blessed time sharing! But there is no central truth, like “what does God have to say about this?” They don’t want to be confronted with hard truth. I read recently that an opinion (about theological or serious life issues) has no validity unless it can be backed up with Scripture. Yes, they can have their opinions, but where does truth come into the picture? when do you confront (share…) them with truth about their opinions? Because they don’t want to hear truth. Their opinions have been coddled by culture their whole lives and for someone to tell them, “thus says the Lord” just doesn’t cut it with them. I agree with Joe Butler on this (above)

    The Church is Not a Safe Place to Wrestle With Issues/Theology: this goes with the last one. They just want to “share”, with no outcome. The meaning comes from the process, not the outcome. That’s what they do all day on their phones and don’t you dare disagree with them.

    So I guess my bottom line is this: if these kids were truly interested and truly serious in following through with what they say they want, then there might be hope to meeting them half way But it seems they want it all their way or no way. I have seen too many who like their sin more than they are serious about their souls. one survey I saw, they admit they are probably the most narcissistic generation to be born in a long time. So when they have been told they are the center of their little universe and have been living it for 20 years, there isn’t much the church can do. Being culturally relevant only go so far. They have to truly want what they say want. But my experience says it’s all hot air.

    There, I feel better….

    Liked by 2 people

    • How many millennials do you actually know and talk too?


      • the church we used to attend had 2 services of about 300 total. these were mostly college age and slightly older because of the style of service and the location near a university. So, for 14 years, I rubbed shoulders with and talked to and led a small group for 11 years. Every effort was made to be “current, relevant, inclusive, caring and loving”. So my comments are from this background. Plus I have 2 sons…

        Liked by 1 person

      • We probably aren’t going agree on this topic. Which isn’t a bad thing. There’s plenty of room in the Church for different churches to have different approaches. I’m convinced this is where God is leading me to lead the church so that’s where I’m going. But there will be other churches that have a different approach and that’s fine. But I want to give my life to reaching the millennial generation and the next generations whatever they are called.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I wish it was easier to ask tough questions and have rational conversations about certain issues. There are some questions I would love to ask.


  7. Pingback: Why Millennials Aren’t Attracted to the Church – The Crusty Old Sailor Speaks

  8. Mary Jo

    Millennialist want reality. Wanting to know that they are loved, accepted unconditionally. No mater their race, sexual gender addictions, nor tattoos. That they do not have to “clean up” their lives to be accepted. Most people in “the church” today think, say and act that those that do not think, act or believe as they do, they are hopeless “sinners” whatever that could be!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are on to something. What’s crazy to me is Jesus always accept and loved everyone where they were at. He never said if you want to follow me you better clean up your act. Rather He said why don’t you come follow me and we will figure it out as we go.


      • Let’s be clear on exactly what He said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross” and THEN He said, ” and follow Me.” There are 2 requirements He gives before He gets to the “follow” part.
        This is not a message millennials (or pretty much anyone else) wants to hear. Jesus is looking for all in, total commitment, a hot or cold, wholehearted completely sold out commitment.
        He told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more”. Yes, He accepted them but did not allow them to stay the same sinful self they were before they met Him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In talking to my wife about this series of posts, she brought up an important point. Jesus isn’t Mr. Rogers asking us, “Will you be my neighbor?” He is God Almighty giving us a command, “Follow me.” It’s up to us whether we will obey Him on His terms or be disobedient. No asking, no begging, no coming together to discuss or share about how we feel about it. He commands, we follow, or we are living in disobedience and sin.


  9. These are great insights to a huge problem for the church in America!! Things like a distrust for institutions and a hostile environment to discuss theology/life are HUGE deterrents, but I especially love what you say about the evolving form of the sermon and relating that to podcasts and how we need to adapt to the technological agree that Millennials have been raised in and are familiar with.
    Here’s a video on why religious interest is decreasing is Western Culture. The first part is just him proving that religious interest is actually decreasing, but the REALLY interesting part is about the last third where he talks about WHY religious interest is decreasing. I think it relates to your post very well, check it out!
    Thank you for sharing this post! I think this is something every church needs to here, no matter where they are in their ministry to the youth!


    • I haven’t seen anything here yet where these kids have any responsibility in this whole rejection thing. It’s all the church’s fault, it’s all leadership’s fault, they don’t feel comfortable and so they can walk away with a clean conscious, knowing someone else is to blame.

      So, someday when we all come before the judgement seat, millennials will have the best reasons for not engaging the church and for not following Jesus like He prescribed, because the church didn’t serve Christianity up the way they felt comfortable with and so abandoned the church and walked away, to model Christian truths after their own image and live life accordingly. And they will get a free pass into heaven because God will be so impressed because their arguments will be so strong and valid….


      • 7sawdust… The point of this article was not to examine millennials responsibility. There definitely is some there. But you will never change someone unless you build a relationship first. So the point of this article was how why millennials aren’t coming through the churches door. You seem very threatened by even the mention of a church changing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jeffery Poor: Not threatened at all. I went through the whole 60s-70s Jesus People tumult, survived the worship wars of the 80s-90s. So change is not a problem for me. The problem I guess I have is the post was one sided. It placed all the blame on the church and none on the millennials, that somehow their needs are more important that the needs of the other 75% of the people sitting in those pews, so we need to do all these sweeping changes to accommodate them, when maybe they are the ones who need some do some compromise and not walk away, claiming all or nothing. I’m not so sure they really want to be confronted with the truth about their sinful self (no one really does) and just want to be affirmed in their opinions.
        You made the statement that “you will never change someone unless you build a relationship first.” I don’t know if that was a misrepresentation of what you believe but the only way anyone is going to change is to be confronted with the truth of their lost-ness in their precarious existence of sin, and that the truth of the Gospel is the only thing that offers them hope. What I saw in what you wrote was lots about opinions and how millennials need to share theirs and then you share yours, and it’s ok if we come to different conclusions on even important stuff. Like what exactly? Jesus said the “truth” will set us free”, not opinions. What truth is up for grabs? What Biblical truth are you willing to compromise on and tell the other person that I don’t agree with you but you can have your opinion and it’s ok, even when it is completely opposed to the Scriptures clearly state? What I would like to know is, when does Jesus get to share HIS opinion in this sharing of opinions, and more important, does He get the final word? Because ultimately, that’s the only truth that matters, regardless of how sincere we are in our opinions and beliefs. There will be a lot of very sincere people with sincerely held beliefs and opinions on that final day when Jesus says, “I never knew you….”. And I think it’s up to us to make sure that whoever we talk to, God gets the final say, always.
        But I’m not so sure millennials want to hear, “thus saith the Lord”, and not telling them that is a disservice to them and about as unloving as one can be, especially when their eternal destiny is at stake.


  10. Jeffery, your excellent post offers much food for thought. Let me serve another morsel: The example set by self-described “Christians.”

    In the past year, we have seen “Christian” leaders rip pages out of their Bibles to justify their political choices on both sides of the aisle. They clearly worship the Donkey or the Elephant ahead of Christ. Such “Christian” leaders usually make the “lesser of two evils” argument. I don’t recall Jesus saying we should stand with either lesser or greater evils. As mentioned in an above comment, He said we should pick up our cross and follow Him. “Christian” leaders threw down their crosses and followed politicians.

    What were their crosses? Perhaps, to endure political defeats and societal scorn while building up communities of love which transform people and, ultimately, culture. When Paul wrote to the Romans, he said to respect leaders, not to endorse their evil. He didn’t suggest revolt against the persecutor Nero; he spoke the truth in love, then bowed his head as the ax came down on his neck, faithful to his Lord to the end. Ultimately, the early Christian counter-culture changed that world from within. Do we think Christ Jesus is less powerful today?

    In my part of the country, the church parking lots are full of cars with Trump stickers. Contrary to some notions, Millennials can read more than emojis. They do also spend much time on social media, and see re-posted and re-Tweeted examples of the man named on those bumper stickers insulting (“reviling” – see I Cor. 6:9-10) women, minorities and the disabled, bullying opponents and journalists, and bragging about grabbing women in the crotch. Like most decent people, they find such behavior extremely offensive, and they are pretty sure they have heard self-described “Christians” condemn such behavior in the past. So these Millennials are faced with extreme hypocrisy laid out plainly in front of them along rows of Trump-stickered automobiles at the local churches.

    They do the math, and suddenly, “Christianity” is equated with loud support of a proudly despicable and unrepentant person. All the teaching of Jesus, the love, the forgiveness, the strength, the goal of human flourishing empowered by the Holy Spirit – it all appears hollow, a sham cover for a crassly political agenda. Millennials don’t want to be associated with Trump’s foulness, and they fear being known as a “Christian” will imply that very association.

    As a side note, I’d like to reiterate the fact that this is not about political philosophy. There were honorable men and women running for the nominations of both parties; the partisan activists chose people of poor character on both sides.

    Nevertheless, vocal “Christian” leaders largely came down on the side of Trump, and soiled the name of Christ in the process. They exchanged their glory for shame. Millennials see it, and want nothing to do with it.

    Older, established Christians have accepted it, this endorsement of evil character, but we, too, need repentance, forgiveness and a rededication to Jesus as our one Lord. Jesus is Lord, Trump (or Clinton or Obama or Bush) is not!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. To add, far to many Christians put their political convictions above their devotion to Jesus. That’s a terrible witness and representation of Jesus. And you are right Millennials want nothing to do with it!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


    • I’m wondering: you would have written the same response with the same wording (proudly despicable and unrepentant person) and name calling if Hillary had been elected?


      • I’ve been politically conservative all my life; it’s sad that we are all so engulfed in politics that our motives are automatically constrained to be binary.

        Hillary was despicable and unrepentant too. That’s why I noted that Jesus never said to choose the lesser of two evils. Evil is evil. As Christians in a post-Christian America, we need to stand with people who, though sinful like all of us, at least repent and try anew in the light of Jesus’s love, rather than proudly parade their vices. In some cases, we may have to choose not to stand with anyone, or rather, only with Christ.

        Also, as I noted in the earlier comment, the vast majority of Christian leaders who publicly supported a candidate supported Trump. Christian leaders supporting the Clintons obviously gave up character as a deciding factor in politics a long time ago.


      • Paul Miller: I was just fishing, not assigning motives. It’s easy to trash one side and be silent about the other side, and by silence, assent to their agenda. The church we used to attend had a “prayer night” after the election. It was clear why, but it was never actually said why. Why didn’t they just say, “For those of you who think your lives are now wrecked because Trump was elected, come and we will try console you, while we as leadership try deal with our sorrow ourselves.”


  11. I think you really hit the nail on the head. As a Millenial and a Christian writer and blogger, I’ve noticed that Millenials don’t get a lot of credit because of their age group. I also love that you brought up changing the way we look at ministry. I write novels. I make photo prints. I blog DIYs. All of these things are part of my ministry and serve an important purpose.

    Finally, I think a lot of what is hurting the Church is information. Millenials crave information, and there’s a lot of it out there that’s very conflicting. We should be able to discuss these things with our brothers and sisters without being judged or talked down to.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. First of all thanks for the like on one of my recent posts. Second, we have many of the same thoughts about stuff. I think all 6 of your points are related to each other. Working in connection to higher has made me realize some of the things we know about education that we don’t apply to the church.

    Question 1: What is more important when teaching, what the teacher says or what the students learn?

    Educations has drastically shifted in the last 10 to 20 years to concentrate mostly on measuring what students learn. The church hasn’t been as diligent in this area. We are very careful to make sure that the words coming out of the preacher’s mouth on Sunday morning are correct but what about what the listeners are retaining. Do we care? Is speaking the Gospel and sharing the Gospel two different things? Can we truly say that we shared the Gospel if our audience didn’t hear it?

    Question 2: If we know that lecture style teaching with a passive audience is the weakest form of learning why is it used as the primary education tool within most churches?

    I’m not an advocate for removing sermons from Sundays. I’m an advocate for using them for what they are designed to do and the is exhort/motivate and not for education. We know that education works best when the students are actively engaged in a multifaceted way; visually, through touch, audibly, orally, in groups, process aloud. It’s not that just young adults need to wrestle with the questions for their own good. It’s also that wrestling with questions helps us to learn the answer. Wrestling with questions are like word problems on tests. They are one of the best ways to measure if a student gets the content.

    Question 3: When do we give others space for what we believe to become what they believe?

    I listen for this in students. I wait with eager anticipation for the language to change from; “my church teaches” or “my pastors says” or “my parents believe” to “I believe” or “I think” or even “I’m not sure.” There needs to be a time where we start talking about beliefs in the first person. And we need to provide spaces specifically designed to help foster this transition.

    Finally, my encouraging word is that Jesus’ disciples were mostly young adults and he taught them primarily through their questions. A great Biblical example of helping young adults with their questions is the exchange between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler including the following debrief between Jesus and his 16 – 30 year old disciples to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “what they are designed to do and the is exhort/motivate and not for education.” Totally agree. We get lots of facts on how to have a better marriage, how to raise your kids, how to be better at your job, 40 days of this and that. But where are the preachers of passion who are willing to ruffle some feathers and “exhort” their people? exhort: “strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something”. It’s the “strongly” part that usually gets left out. I’m not to sure that Peter or Paul or James would get a second hearing today. They would exhort with gusto and let it fall on whatever soil it may. It’s the truth of the Gospel that needs to be renew in the preaching today. It’s the truth of sin and repentance and a Savior that needs to be raised high from the pulpit, not sermonettes for Christianettes. It’s the Blood of Jesus washing away sin, God’s demands for us to live a holy life of denial and dying to self that needs to be brought back from the dead. Where does that come into talking to millinnials? Where will they hear these basic unchanging truths?


  13. Check out this link on my blog for my thoughts in an organized fashion.


  14. Millennials are very evidence based.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think the church is losing the battle in reaching the next generation. As a pastor, I am very focused on how this should be fixed. With that said, I have talked with and communicated with a lot of millenials and it seems that they are focused on what everyone is doing wrong to reach them rather than getting into the Bible and pursuing God through His Word, through a relationship, and then doing what He said in His Word in regards to “not forsaking the assembling”. I think we as Americans have a customer based theology in regards to church members and reaching the lost. What I mean by this is that we have to let the person “have it their way” like businesses do with customers. I think churches should adjust to some degree with the changing times, but not if it means to go against doctrine in the Word. Church is God’s institution, not man’s and therefore it should be run differently. I do not put all of the blame on the Millennials, but rather most of it on their parents who raised their child to act like a customer in their house rather than training them up to be and do what is spelled out in the Holy Scriptures. A person who has never been taught to submit at the right times in life, will ultimately grow up thinking that everyone is against them and take on the victim status. I appreciate your thoughts above. I think that there is some merit in it, but it is not balanced against the Word of God and what God says every Christian should do in regards to church. This is me “hashing it out” on here. I am not against you for writing the post. I think it helps others to understand more what some millennials are thinking in regards to church.

    Liked by 2 people

    • HERE, HERE! You are so right…I agree with you 100%. It makes one wonder if millinnials really are searching for truth or just want their opinions and beliefs validated, and when there is any opposition to what they say, like say, truth from Scripture, then they leave, because “their needs weren’t being met”.


      • Anonymous

        I remember when I was in my 20’s. I thought i had all of the answers. What a joke! What I needed to do was to listen to the older men that were experienced in the Word. This verse reminds me of what i needed to do and what all millenials need to do…Jeremiah 5:5
        (5)  I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
        **Notice that this verse said that “I will get me unto the great men…” the millenials want everyone to cater to them. This thinking is not how God works.
        Deuteronomy 4:29
        (29)  But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
        Isaiah 55:6-7
        (6)  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
        (7)  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

        I also think of when Solomon’s son Rehoboam when he went with the counsel of the young men instead of following the counsel of the young men in 2 Chronicles 10. I am not against millenials, they just haven’t realized yet that they still need to learn from the older men. I am still learning. I have a lot to learn. I have been in full time pastoral ministry now for over 13 years, and there is so much to learn still.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Millennials have a lot to learn for sure (as does everyone). I too look back when I was younger and think “man I was dumb”. And I’m sure I’ll say the same thing in 10 years about now! But my question is how are you going to help and teach millennials if you they don’t want to enter the community of the church?


  16. “We should be able to engage in healthy conversations about theology. And when we disagree have maturity and pursue unity.”

    This. This is HUGE. As someone who is new to corporate worship, I honestly and naively had no idea that asking questions about interpretation or biblical theology would upset people. I had no idea there was so much infighting, hostility, and bickering in the Body of Christ over doctrinal statements, theological differences (that aren’t foundational issues centered on Christ), and bible study. I was intimidated away from approaching fellow Christians face-to-face on these questions and felt very alone with all of it until I discovered a really great group of online bible nerds. My pastor is also very good at one-on-one biblical interpretation conversations. But Christians should be able to talk about the Bible and debate different biblical questions without getting upset or questioning the condition of one another’s souls. Rigid doctrine leaves people alone in a desert, and it’s the norm. That’s not okay.

    “My question is why haven’t churches done this yet?!

    I’m not talking about putting your sermons on a podcast. Every church does that. I’m talking about crafting a podcast specifically designed to be a podcast.”

    Amen. I’m not a millennial. I’m a pesky middle-aged Gen-X straggler on the tail-end of my generation, and I share this thought with you.

    Sunday meetings/services are important. Sermons are important. Small group Sunday school is beneficial. But. I’m a Christian 7 days per week, and having deep theological lessons, life application / community messages, and biblical exegesis from the pastor or bible teachers I trust at my own church would be amazing.

    Finally, you mentioned in there that a lot of energy goes into what’s on the “stage” on Sunday, and that–that right there–is the core problem. God is not a show. Our faith is not a concert. There shouldn’t be a stage. It’s just not supposed to be a stage. That’s so shallow and wordly and insipid…and millennials as well as Gen X and Gen Y and even the Boomers can see that. I can go to the movies if I want special effects with my Jesus.

    The problem is that churches use quantifiable data to gauge their success. How many people attended? How much offering money are they receiving? How many people “got saved?”

    Spreadsheet success doesn’t translate to ministry success, and I think the church as a whole is starting to figure that out. The life of following Christ doesn’t end after you say a prayer and get saved. The quality of a church’s ability to provide support and accountability and community to its congregants cannot be measured by how many butts warm the pew each week. The money a church receives is not as important as where and how a church spends its material resources.

    People know this deep down and they feel it deep down, and for all the complaining we do about Millennials in this country, one thing this generation is very good at…is sniffing out bovine excrement and calling it what it is. They are cynical because the world around them has proven worthy of their cynicism. Our churches need to be a beacon of transparent and honest faith. If they are, the Millennials will come and stay, and so will everyone else.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing your story! It is stories like yours why I’m convinced the church needs to change it’s method. We’ve become so focused on people inside the church we have forgotten to take the message outside. And when someone comes into our church that isn’t familiar with how things work they are bombarded with arguments, bickering, insider language, and all these things they had no idea about. We’ve got to refocus on priorities.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. karenlts25

    Certainly hit on a nerve!

    Reading through everyone’s experiences, frustrations and ideas, what I agree with or may not I put aside for one question I am left pondering…

    What is believed about the Bible, God’s living Word as it relates to what is a “believer,” “saint” or follower of Jesus as defined by Scripture? It seems if there is uncertainty on this, not much matters which may follow. “I’m a Christian” seems to mean many different things to many people, but where did personal opinion become an acceptable measure of what is true on God’s terms?

    The Bible says a follower of Jesus, in which He is Lord and Saviour, allows Him to have “absolute ownership rights” of our lives, taking on His nature and as a result be “unlike” the world. This is good and bad when it comes to concerns of some of the needs expressed by millenials. (Actually, it imacts all ages!) Something evident both in Scripture as well as those who lived during times of Revival like those in Wales, in that personal opinion about the who or what of God, His Son, or how the Holy Spirit chooses to illuminate Biblical truths is not questioned, debated or considered to be “liked” or “not liked”. God’s presence, the reality of who He really is pretty well silences everyone. Hand-over-the-mouth Job kind of moment. “I have spoken of things I knew not” kind of revelation of Scriptural truth.

    Is it possible we have we got it all backwards? Should it not be God 1st, His Sovereignty, His plan of salvation with an understanding of that priviledge and undeserving grace before me, myself and I? I hope I never have to experience what the early Church endured, yet they were known for their praise, their giving of thanks, grace, peace and unity. Whether they were love or hated, they were followers of Jesus with daily opportunities to live out what they learned.

    Jesus Himself, the one whose example we are called to follow was judged falsely, treated unfairly, condemned unjustly, accused and threatened. He did nothing on His own but always submitted to the will of His Father, which is the very reason we were able to be reconciled to God our Father. If this is not communicated, how loving is it to anyone regardless of age as they go forth Monday- Saturday and face the real world? It remains a spiritual battlefield, not one of flesh and blood. The “hits” are real and they can hurt.

    My husband has pastored close to 30 years, yet for the past few years we’ve traveled throughout this nation, for the past 2+ years in our RV. We’ve worked and lived alongside folks of all ages, backgrounds, and belief systems. “Living out” the Gospel is indeed the most effective ministry “tool”, yet far from glamorous or comfortable. Nothing has tested the “genuine-ness” of my faith than living 24/7 among these folks. We’ve cleaned toilets, pulled weeds, offered breakfasts and a listening ear, answered or responded to reasonable yet challenging questions with Scriptural truth. At times been able to offer nothing more than an “I do not know why God allowed this,” while being a calm presence as someone poured out years of pain. Sometimes this has allowed openness to Bible Study or prayer, other times we’ve been ostracized or mocked, accepted by some yet rejected by others. But is that not what our Lord experienced?

    I understand the craving for information, I’m wired that way as well, but to not put in practice what knowledge is attained can be a real hindrance to the Word and God’s Spirit empowering us to “live out” what is being ingested. “Following Jesus” includes times of not getting credit so that Jesus gets the credit.

    If “Church” is not Christ-centric but Pastor-centric, can we expect the kind of results the early Church had? Church as an organism vs. organization, means mess and life, uncomfortable growth and change, real and genuine, wheat in with the tares, sheep encountering some wolves.

    Without an understanding of the reality of salvation, the way God planned and carried this out “before the foundation of the world”, (Eph.1) can genuine unconditional acceptance and love be fully known? If a different kind of Gospel or different kind of Jesus is being taught, can we expect the same results as what Scripture speaks of? Grace, peace, joy regardless of circumstance, including the reactions of others is most definately evident to those your heart so clearly is desiring will be reached.

    Thank you for your words. I know it is easy to say, “I’m praying for you,” but we are a prayin’ people and shall add you and the fellowship of believers God has placed you among in our prayers.

    As for the whole lot of us I pray that God’s grace and peace, which comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, would be the encouragement needed to preserve the unity of the Body of Christ.May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give each one the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of our heart enlightened, that we may all, regardless of age, know what is the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His might.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “where did personal opinion become an acceptable measure of what is true on God’s terms?” Totally agree. It seems opinion has been elevated to some lofty perch that judges truth and not the other way around.
      “absolute ownership rights” is a problem for those who has been affirmed all their lives that they are special and the center of their universe and no one has claim on them but themselves.


  18. Reading through this discussion, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between two groups. One group wishes to make clear the gospel cannot be “changed” to fit the cultural or psychological cravings of the Millennial generation. A second cluster, led in the title column by Jeffery Poor, is focused on adapting the church’s outreach methods to more effectively invite Millennials into Christ’s family, and adapting its instruction methods as these young people are brought up in the faith.

    I think both ideas can be held together. The example in the comment by karenlts25 (, living life true to the gospel AND entering into the lives of those we hope to reach and teach, is one we should emulate. That kind of integrity, living life in the joy of God’s love, and loving others, despite their fallen nature, is precisely the example Jesus gave us when he ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. Some of them repented, accepted Him as Lord and were saved by His presence. Let’s remember that as we look upon a Millennial generation that needs our witness and God’s love.

    And God bless you in your ministry, karenlts25!


  19. I appreciate a “Millennials and Church” post that goes in some different directions than usual.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s enough articles already out there about what millennials need to do differently. And while they have some good points, it’s a two way street. The church has responsibility too.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Christian

    Nice discussion, brother.

    I especially enjoyed the thoughts around the church being a place to explore theological questions.

    I’m a bit older than you, so I’m probably just out of the demographic you’re referencing (I believe they actually call me an Xennial now). However I’ll share that one of my challenges has been in the one sided nature of service, which is where I think younger generations can get disconnected.

    I’m normal services, the pastor will teach or preach a message and that’s sort of where it ends. When I read the passages of Jesus’ teachings, it never fails that someone asks a question. Jesus uses those questions as a platform to illustrate the Word in practical terms. In short, Jesus was interactive.

    That’s how younger people are today, interactive. Eager to participate and willing to jump in with both feet. Regardless of others’ negative experiences of lackadaisical and noncommittal youth, I see the younger people in society as those that look for ways to connect.

    The challenge tends to be that the traditional ways of connecting aren’t really connecting at all. The service isn’t connecting, its listening.

    Yet wouldn’t it be cool if after the pastor preached, four or five people got to sit up on stage and talk about how the precious weeks’ message interacted with them? How awesome would it be if they got to ask questions about the current message and get clarity on the scripture? Believe it or not, I suggested that at Real Life.

    There’s always talk of churches having opportunities to serve the community through the church, but has anyone ever bothered to ask if those were the places that those in the church wanted to support over other needs? Or were those decisions made by church leadership? This leaves people with the tough decision of supporting groups and causes on their own or using their time to support the churches’ outreach. There really needs to be an annual reconsideration of these efforts. Allow church members to present everyone the opportunities within the community and let the church vote.

    I’m sure I could ramble on for another few paragraphs, but my point (to your point) is churches could stand to find more ways to discuss (connect) with people, rather than simply just talk at people.

    Maybe we’d see a recharging of several generations of church-goers, not just the millennials.


  21. Wow controversial topic. To change or not to change. To be renewed or to remain in what it was said. Wow! Great topic. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. jasondlepard

    Your right


  23. Reblogged this on The Progressive Christian Blog and commented:
    Some food for thought for everyone out there, especially millenials…..

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Pingback: Can You Be a Christian and Not Go To Church? – rethink

  25. Writing and reading about millennials is what I do. That was something really nice. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow, I totally agree. The sad truth is that this topic isn’t even addressed in most churches. Millennial are often seen as “rebellious” or “ungodly,” but maybe the truth is that there’s a deeper reason for what is going on?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Pingback: How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave Your Church? – rethink

  28. roguemillennials

    So much truth here – we hear these same things over and over again from Millennials! Thanks for writing on the topic, it’s important to address and give time to and encourage discussion on.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Pingback: Can You Be a Christian and Not Go To Church? - Liberty Street

  30. I think there’s something else that we need to help all people and not just Millennials understand – Church is about experiencing God. Literally. It’s the place where you learn to have a real, tangible relationship with a person, the person of God and has a lot of wisdom about taking that further. If we can’t explain that and the joy and challenge and meaning it brings then we have nothing to offer to anyone, let alone Millennials. And I think as a Church we are forgetting that.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. As a fellow millennial, this post was refreshing to read. I grew up in the Catholic church, separated, started going to a baptist church and just stopped. I stopped because I had made some choices I wasn’t proud of, I knew I needed God, but I was afraid of other church members judging me. Then I found the church I go to now and I love it. They don’t judge. So I think that alot of it is about finding the right church for you. Experiencing God as much as you can. Diving into His word and His teachings. Some of us (like me) learn things the hard way. My faith is what’s keeping me sane. Reading my bible and blogging about my experiences in hopes of helping others is what’s keeping me sane.


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