By Rev. Conitras M. Houston, Contributing Writer
It appears the word of the season is Millennial—everyone is saying it; yet, does anyone really understand it? While the term Millennial typically refers to individuals born within the early 1980s to the late 1990s, there is much more to be discovered, especially within the church.
All Millennials are not created equal. Some love tradition while others loathe it. This should be an immediate relief to pastors all over the world. If your church is not contemporary, it does not mean a Millennial will not want to be a part of it. Likewise, having a radically contemporary church does not make the church a Millennial magnet. There are, however, some common denominators within this generation of God’s people that when considered will help to create a Millennial magnet within your congregation.
Authenticity is magnetic for Millennials. As a generation made up of individuals who range from free-spirited to YPD-bred-AMEs and from young entrepreneurs to figuring-it-out-from-mom’s-house, Millennials do not typically struggle with identity. While their personal understanding of their identity may develop over the years and sometimes as quickly as a few months, Millennials do not do “phony” well. Therefore, an authentic worship atmosphere is more important than contemporary or traditional labels. If the worship is authentic, it is consistent, which creates a space for stability and belonging.
Accessibility also creates an attachment for Millennials who are accustomed to the convenience of technology. Older Millennials have been surfing the web faithfully since the time of the annoying dial-up age so surely Millennials want to see and surf their church beyond the walls of the building. This is not simply a nice website and presence on social media but also opportunities for fellowship and unconventional spiritual growth.
As the church wrestles to become a Millennial magnet, the church must also work to maintain Millennials. Millennials are productive young adults with voices everywhere in the world. Certainly, Millennials deserve a voice in the church. Interviewing and drilling Millennials for their ideas but not incorporating Millennials into the structure and life of the existing body does not provide a voice. It controls their voice. Remember, Millennials are authentic and crave accessibility. Let us welcome this generation by mirroring these same qualities in our church.
The Rev. Conitras M. Houston is the senior pastor of Trinity AME Church in Atlanta, GA and special assistant to the General Secretary/CIO of the AME Church.