Travis Brown shares his research and personal experiences.
Recently my wife, another Millennial, and I endured the long and uncomfortable journey of looking for another home church. During this more than six-month transition, we visited church after church from nearly every local denomination, hoping to find one that felt right for us.
One thing I noticed at many of the great establishments that we visited was that we were their “target audience.” We were the people they wanted in their church. We are young adults, we have a few kids, we have jobs, we are saved, and we are tithers and givers. Although we sensed that people wanted us to join their church (as demonstrated by subtle, not-so-subtle, and sometimes downright tacky antics) there were some things that did not appeal to us.
We are Millennials, not children. We are not easily fooled, and we can tell when something is not right. We want our home church to be authentic. Many churches make the mistake of trying to be so relevant that they forget to be authentic. It is almost offensive to walk into a church and find that everybody from the ushers to the pastor is trying to be hip in an effort to be relevant.
When there is more emphasis on image than on Christ, it’s more gravy than meat. Don’t hide what should give me substance with what should be a complement to the experience. I love gravy, but it’s the meat that satisfies my hunger. Using slang and wearing urban attire in the sanctuary does not make you relevant—it makes you look ridiculous when it is not authentic.
Being authentic not only attracts Millennials to the church, it provides a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell. As a leader, being anything less than authentic in your church in order to gain members is like asking God to bless a lie.