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If you're trying to reach young families with children, then the demographic you're trying to connect with are the Millennials. Look closely at the average church and you won't find an abundance of Millennials. The nursery is quiet due to lack of parents bringing their children. The preschool area, that should be full, has a shrinking attendance. Look around during worship and you'll see a lot more gray hair than you do young couples. Why is this? Obviously, it's because more and more Millennials are leaving the church. Which leads to the bigger question. Why are Millennial parents exiting the church? Studies show that church attendance among 22-to-35-year-olds is the lowest in recent history. Look at these sobering stats:

  • Only 2 in 10 people under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).

  • 59% of Millennials raised in the church have dropped out.

  • 35% of Millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.

  • Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church.

Why is this happening? Let's address some of the big reasons Millennials are leaving the church. We aren't including them in planning the future of the church. Millennials want the opportunity to speak into the direction, strategies and vision of the church. They highly value this and refuse to be a part of a church that ignores their input. If we are going to see Millennial parents become part of and help lead the future church, then we must give them a voice in planning that future. Practical steps to take:

  • Give them a seat at your church's leadership table.

  • Host focus groups for Millennial parents. Listen to their feedback and ideas.

  • Have special events and classes that are geared for young couples.

We're talking it, but not walking it. We talk about changing the world, but we don't get involved in things that can change the world. Millennial parents want to change the world. They are drawn to churches that are focused on changing the world. They also want their kids involved in this. A cool mission statement that talks about changing the world, but does very little about it, turns Millennials off. Practical steps to take:

  • Provide Millennials with opportunities to make a difference.

  • Provide Millennials with opportunities to serve and make a difference with their child.

  • Show Millennials how their involvement is making a difference.

We're not getting outside the 4 walls. If we want Millennial parents to come inside the 4 walls, then we must first give them opportunities to get outside the walls. Occcasionly taking up an offering for kids in a needy country is not enough. They want to go visit the child and help him /her in person. Practical steps to take:

  • Get small groups involved in serving together outside the 4 walls.

  • Help supplement and sponsor young Millennials to go on mission trips.

  • Share stories of young adults who went on a mission trip and the fruit that's resulted from it.

Church politics. If you look behind the curtain, you will see most churches have politics going on. Power struggles over decisions. Arguing over petty things like the color of the carpet. Starting "new churches" due to church splits. A few families, that have been at the church for generations, controlling the church and turning it into a country club where only people like them are accepted. Millennials can see right through the curtain. They see the politics, power struggles and lack of unity, and they want no part of it. Practical steps to take:

  • Create a culture of unity that is based on the church's vision.

  • The less red tape, the better. Realize you don't need a committee for getting permission to buy some more toilet paper for the bathrooms. Empower the staff team to be able to make decisions while balancing it with accountability.

  • Make decisions not based on the preference of the few, but on what's best for the future of the church.

Show them the money. Millennials want to know where the money they are giving is going. They don't trust institutions in general and that includes churches. They are turned off when they hear about a pastor building a multi-million dollar house or driving a Rolls Royce, while kids in other countries are dying of starvation. They are also not big on building grand facilities that are used for an hour a week on Sunday morning. Practical steps to take:

  • Be totally transparent about where funds are being spent.

  • Show how the money is being used to help others with a special emphasis on helping the poor and needy.

  • Church staff salaries should be in line with what the average family in the congregation makes. In other words, they should live comfortably, but not exorbitantly.

Move from the yelling head to a conversation. Millennials are not interested in having someone stand behind a pulpit and yell at them. They can sit home and watch the best preachers on the planet on demand. Instead, they long for stimulating conversation in a community of people who are facing the same challenges and struggles.