Millennials at church: Engaging young adults and growing membership

Are you having trouble attracting young members to your church? Or maybe you feel you could do a better job of engaging young adults in your congregation?

Attracting younger generations is essential for growing membership and ultimately the longevity of your church. Targeting the millennial generation is key for many church leaders, but so much of this generation seems out of reach our simply tuned out.

In busy modern life ruled by social media, many millennials are craving deeper human connection. The church can help feed this hunger. Here are the six strategies churches can use to effectively build relationships with millennials.

Small groups for young adults: Foster deeper engagement by building a thriving small group program throughout the year. Create groups around topics particularly appealing to millennials. Not sure what those are? Ask! Your target audience is your best resource for understanding what they would like to study or explore. Keep in mind, millennials may be timid about a long commitment, so a range of 6-8 weeks of meetings will likely get optimum participation.

Talk their language: It's important to have a clear communication that resonates with the millennial generation. A baby boomer at church may have good intentions, but it might be difficult to connect simply based on generational differences. If possible, have other young adults lead fellowship events, Bible groups and other efforts to help find common ground.

Community connection: Mission outreach is a wonderful opportunity for your church to make a difference and impact the people locally. It's important to millennials to give back to the community, so this is an opportunity to make a difference and engage church members through fundraising and participation in events. One of the most basic examples is hosting a food drive and then organizing groups to sort food and bring it to a local nonprofit. You could also do this with school supplies to make a tangible difference to youth in the community.

Fellowship: In a world full of emails and social media that can feel disingenuous, millennials long for strong friendships and true connection. Be sure to offer plenty of fellowship opportunities that are attractive to this generation. Perhaps it's a "pints with the pastor" night at a local pub, pizza and movie date nights hosted at the church hall, or a family potluck followed by ice cream sponsored by a church youth committee.

Digital communication: More than 9 out of 10 millennials own smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. This generation finds its information online, which is why a high-quality website with easy mobile navigation is a necessity. What's more, maintain active social media pages and consider starting and regularly posting to a church blog.

Personal invitation: Research shows the most powerful way to get someone to attend church for the first time is a personal invitation. That means to get more young people into your church, you need to encourage current members to reach out to people they know. This is particularly important with millennial members. You might even consider hosting a "bring a friend" event where members are encouraged to bring someone new and the service is catered to this theme, including a fun activity after services, such as a barbecue or game night.