Millennials are forcing us to minister in a new way. New for us, that is. But it’s really the oldest way of all. We can’t treat them as a group, or even as subgroups. We have to actually minister to them one-on-one as individuals, instead. Oh, the (mock) horror!
What Kinds of Churches Will Millennials Build?
Millennials won't build the kinds of churches their parents and grandparents built. I don’t know what kinds of churches they will build, but they’ll be very different than what we’ve been used to in the last two generations. Here’s why.
Builders and Boomers took relationships for granted and needed to build structures. Millennials take the structures for granted and need to build relationships.
My parents’ and grandparents’ generations were literally building and rebuilding nations following the war. For the first time, construction companies didn’t just put up houses, they designed and built entire neighborhoods almost overnight. They ran telephone and electricity cables. They constructed freeways. And they erected church buildings in the same way.
For my parents and grandparents, a permanent church building with pews bolted to the floor, a full-time pastor and denominational label meant permanence and status. In those generations, the fastest way to get money out of their pockets was to launch a capital fund building campaign.
Not so for my kids’ generation. Launch a capital building campaign today and you’re likely to be met with blank stares or questions like “why should I give my hard-earned money to help you build a building?”
The High Value of Restoring Broken Relationships
Millennials aren’t wrong to feel that way. And they’re not uncommitted. They just have different needs and see ministry through a different lens.
In addition to giving them permanent physical structures, we also gave them an emotionally impaired, morally ambiguous, relationally impermanent society. This is the generation where divorce and/or parental neglect are virtually assumed. Contrasted by the sometimes equally damaging do-everything-for-them helicopter parents.
Most of the relationships that previous generations took for granted have broken. So this generation has a high degree of skepticism, low trust in institutions and finely-tuned phoniness detectors.