This post is an excerpt from the ebook, Millennials and the Church, written by Hannah Osborne.
We’ve seen how Millennials interact with technology in their daily lives and their average patterns for church attendance. One common reaction is to combine these two facets of Millennial life—to incorporate technology and snazzy marketing into the church—in order to draw them into the church. But does this tactic work?
Efforts to Draw Millennials
I was once told by a parishioner at a rural church that they put screens up in their hundred-year-old building to “stay relevant with the younger kids.” I was baffled—the screens looked out of place next to their gilded altar and intricate architecture—but this older woman was convinced that screens were what would draw in young people.
Millennials aren’t going to magically appear in church because you put up a screen, but they are quicker to embrace the use of technology in church compared to their parents or grandparents.
Technology in Worship
A personal example of this kind of generational difference: My parents (Baby Boomers) and I were visiting my cousin’s church one Sunday, and we attended the contemporary worship service. The pastor, a middle-aged man a few years younger than my parents, read the Scripture readings from his smartphone's Bible app. After the service, my mom mentioned how she thought it was “strange” that he did that, where I hadn’t even questioned it until she pointed it out.
Many members of older generations who write about Millennials, particularly Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, often fail to understand the depth of Millennials. While Millennials are more accepting of technology in church, it is not common for them to base their attendance on the presence of it. Some members of older generations see Millennials' quick adoption of technology and assume that, surely, technology is the way to draw Millennials in, when in fact Millennials are concerned with more substantial issues.
What Do Millennials Really Want from the Church?
One Millennial responder in a survey taken by Concordia Technology Solutions said, “So many Millennials in our congregation are burnt out from all the screens, all the praise bands, and all the empty feelings that such superficial stuff promotes.”
Basically, Millennials want something more. They want something substantial (the “solid food” Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 3:2), something that allows them to relate faith to their lives, and they require the help of those around them to get to that point. Differences in understandings of technology, social media, and motivations drive a wedge between generations and prevent genuine interactions and conversations about real topics, particularly in the church.
To learn more ways the church can care for millennials, download our free ebook Millennials and the Church.