Every church I know would like to have a stronger ministry to Millennials. Church leaders would love to preach in a worship center packed with younger adults. Sunday school and small-group leaders would enjoy guiding Bible studies full of these younger adults, too. But the reality is that most of our churches are struggling to reach and retain this segment of the culture. We want to have influence with Millennials, but we struggle to find the “secret sauce.”
In the book The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, the authors explain the top influences on Millennials. You may be surprised by their list. “What is fascinating are the sources the Millennials are not turning to as influencers. Music, Internet, and television each outranked religious beliefs, a spouse, and a boss in terms of influence. Music is more influential than religious beliefs by three percentage points” (p.199). Here is what the authors had to say about the influence of music, in particular:
Looking beyond friends and family, where do the Millennials find influence? Music ranked as the most influential media source. Sixty-one percent of the Millennial generation sated that music was a positive influence on their lives…Millennials find their influential music at the touch of a button. They can download a song in an instant. Millennials are in complete control of what they listen to and when they listen to it.
I see two major implications for the church. One, obviously, is worship. The selection of songs, their backstories, and the origin stories of our great hymns are important to this younger generation.
Implication number two takes place in the classroom or Bible study setting. If music is such a big influence on Millennials, how often do we use it during a Bible study? How many times in the course of a month do we select a song to either sing, play, listen to, or dissect in our Bible study? Do we allow Millennials to take the Bible study story, theme, and truths and write new lyrics to familiar tunes? Do we encourage their creativity? If not, there is a partial answer to “Why won’t Millennials attend our church?” That might be a big “ouch” and a wake-up call to those of us who teach or are trying to reach Millennials.
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