The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in Church

For most churches, the trick to getting the millennial generation to engage is simple enough. Millennials, the thinking goes, want a church that is technologically savvy. They want a chill, low-key environment. And, above all, they want to be surrounded by people with whom they can relate.

Those things aren’t necessarily untrue, but a new Barna Group study has found some unexpected things about what millennials are looking for in their church experience. Those things defy some of the general assumptions about why millennials go to church.

First of all, millennials (in this study, defined as those 14 to 30) aren’t interested in having social media be a part of their Sunday morning. They tend to see church as a place to unplug. They’re looking for something different and, perhaps, more authentic than what they get during the rest of the week.

The study also found that, in something of a reversal from their parents, millennials care deeply about the building. While they’re often turned off by the massive, entertainment-heavy productions of many larger churches, they do care about aesthetics and creativity, and they like to see that expressed in church.

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Perhaps most intriguing, the idea that millennials are turned off by older generations is untrue. In fact, many of them come to church looking for a group of people with more years and more wisdom than they have. They’re looking for guides.

None of these things are necessarily the responsibility of church to provide, but they are a little counter-intuitive to what many churches are trying to do. And it all circles back to that idea that is frequently discussed but so rarely actually achieved: authenticity.

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