Church growth tactics don’t work with Millennials

Church growth tactics don’t work with Millennials May 4, 2015

Rachel Held Evans was something of an evangelical renegade who left the church for awhile, only to come back recently as an Episcopalian.  In an op-ed piece, she explains that the church growth tactics that churches try to use to reach her Millennial generation just don’t work.  “Young people don’t simply want a better show,” she says.  “And trying to be cool might be making things worse.”

After the jump, a link and an excerpt to her piece, giving data to back up her claim.  But tomorrow we’ll post about what she says WILL make Christianity relevant to her generation.

From Rachel Held Evans, Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church ‘cool.’ – The Washington Post:

Recent research from Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network found that 67 percent of millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77 percent would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.” While we have yet to warm to the word “traditional” (only 40 percent favor it over “modern”), millennials exhibit an increasing aversion to exclusive, closed-minded religious communities masquerading as the hip new places in town. For a generation bombarded with advertising and sales pitches, and for whom the charge of “inauthentic” is as cutting an insult as any, church rebranding efforts can actually backfire, especially when young people sense that there is more emphasis on marketing Jesus than actually following Him. Millennials “are not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion,” argues David Kinnaman, who interviewed hundreds of them for Barna Group and compiled his research in “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith.”

My friend and blogger Amy Peterson put it this way: “I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly ‘relevant.’ I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.”

Millennial blogger Ben Irwin wrote: “When a church tells me how I should feel (‘Clap if you’re excited about Jesus!’), it smacks of inauthenticity. Sometimes I don’t feel like clapping. Sometimes I need to worship in the midst of my brokenness and confusion — not in spite of it and certainly not in denial of it.”

 


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