These 6 behaviors can help churches "Grow Younger" to reach Millennials

It is possible for your church to grow younger by engaging 18-35 year olds, a group that feels increasingly distant from the church.

How? Read on to find 6 things you can be doing right now.

Here are some sobering statistics from Kara Powell, head of Fuller Youth Institute:
  • Every 2.5 minutes a church goes out of business
  • 1 in 2 youth group grads drift from God & the church
  • No major Christian tradition is growing in US
  • "Nones" on the rise from 16%-22%
Intentional churches are "growing young" and finding renewal through reaching and integrating 15-29 yr olds into their church.  Yes, these churches are changing the young people they reach, but wonderfully, the young people are also changing their churches.
Fuller conducted extensive research with over 250 churches across the U.S. to determine the behaviors that typified churches who are successful at reaching Millennials. They found 6 actions that churches can start working on today:
  1. Keychain Leadership: These are leaders who can hand the keys over to someone younger. You don't have to be a cool, hip leader. Look at your young people and figure out how to empower them.
  2. Empathy Today: 25 is the new 15; the markers of adulthood (i.e. career, marriage, etc.) are delayed for today's adults. Yet at the same time, 15 is the new 25 with everything Millennials face in a fast-paced, connected world. That's their reality -- we must empathize with our young people's journeys toward Identity, Belonging, and Purpose. Join with them, instead of judging.
  3. Jesus' message: What are young people absorbing from our teaching about Jesus? Could they all verbalize a clear understanding of their identity in Christ based on our sermons?
  4. Warm relationships: The #1 answer that Millennials give when asked why they like their church? Not its modernity, location, coolness, or budget. What Millennials care about is that "It feels like family." What are we doing to foster this feeling of family with young people? A clever way to think of it: "Warm" is the new "Cool".
  5. Prioritize young people: With your time, resources, whatever. Pay attention to what God is doing with our young people and be there to support and encourage it.
  6. Best neighbors: Serving alongside young people bonds us together.

How are you going to use this information? Here are a few quick suggestions to get your juices flowing:

  • Take out your calendar and find time to interact with a handful of Millennials in your church who you could hand keys to
  • Use as a launchpad for discussion within your next elder board meeting about how to act on these ideas
  • Lead a small group of twenty-somethings with the intent of discipling them
  • Ensure that younger people are on the platform every week
  • Yes; address "culture" issues like style of worship music
  • Consider holding your own focus group with young people in and out of your church

For a full rundown and much more depth, check out the book that came from this study, called Growing Young.