Research by Washington, D.C. churches concluded Generation Y looks for a church that’s real and unique.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center in 2015 showed that approximately one third of millennials in the country proclaim to have no religion. This is an increase of nine percentage points from a similar poll conducted in 2007. This also ties in with the current narrative of millennials shunning church and religion for a variety of reasons. However, some churches in Washington D.C. are bucking the trend and showing the entire country that it is possible to attract and retain millennials.
Also referred to as Generation Y, millennials are people who achieved adulthood around the year 2000. With the influx of information and data from the internet and the ability to travel the world cheaply and easily, this generation has benefitted enormously from globalization. Global trends have also served to make them more open minded and opinionated, with many millennials wishing for a church that is:
While many churches are striving to appear to be relevant, Generation Y is looking for authenticity. Drew Dyck, Managing Editor for the Leadership Journal comments, “Millennials have a dim view of church. They are highly skeptical of religion. Yet they are still thirsty for transcendence. But when we portray God as a cosmic buddy, we lose them (they have enough friends). When we tell them that God will give them a better marriage and family, it is white noise (they’re delaying marriage and kids or forgoing them altogether). When we tell them they’re special, we’re merely echoing what educators, coaches, and parents have told them their whole lives. But when we present a ravishing vision of a loving and holy God, it just might get their attention and capture their hearts as well.”
Clear signage, sleek websites and active presence on social media is something else that millennials are looking for in their church of choice.
Millennials are looking for a church that can offer them something that is unique and that they cannot get anywhere else. They can find friends online and go out or interact with other people through other platforms. However, church is the one place that they can get Christian lessons for a modern world.
There are several D.C. churches that have studied the aspirations, wants and needs of millennials and have attempted to fulfill them. Churches like The Table, Triumph Church, Redemption Hill and The District Church are quite popular with Generation Y. Others include Anacostia River Church and Grace Capital Church. The District Church under the leadership of founder and Pastor Aaron Graham receives about 600 worshippers every Sunday in a city that has had a massive influx of young people looking for jobs and career advancement.
New churches targeting young professionals in DC with social justice, multiculturalism and unfiltered evangelicalism https://t.co/bZDt0R3YXh
— Gerardo Martí (@praxishabitus) September 11, 2016
Graham strongly does away with the myth of millennials shying away from church and religion altogether, remarking, “People aren’t automatically checking the box for which religion they are, like they used to.” He goes on to say, “Young people are very engaged with their faith.” In other words, what they are looking for is authenticity and uniqueness.