Millennials and Worship

Image Credit: David Ball
My social media news feeds have been bombarded over the last few months with similar stories: "How to Get Millennials In Church," "Why Millennials are Leaving the Church," "What Millennials Want from Worship." In a similar way, so many conversations at clergy gatherings bring up the conversation "What do young people want from the church?"

I can't speak for other young adults. I know my experience, and the things that resonate with me and my friends. And what I know is this: I am tired of this conversation.

After listening to a fantastic presentation about the ways that the culture around the church is changing, an audience member raised her hand with a question. Her congregation was having the debate about the best way to attract young adults: should they have traditional or contemporary music? Here is my expert, millennial opinion on that question: I don't care.

No really. I don't care whether you use an organ or drums, whether you have a seven piece band or a thirty member choir, whether you sing something written five hundred years ago or five years ago. I don't want to save your church. I don't want a worship service designed just for me.

What do Millennials want? In truth, if you ask 100 different young adults you will get 100 different answers. I have my personal worship & music preferences. But they are not reflective of anyone in my generation but me -- and more importantly, they are secondary when it comes to finding a worshiping community. "What style of music" is not the question I care most about. As Tripp Hudgins points out, it's not the point.

Here's what I care about: When I walk into your church building on Sunday, does it feel like a real, loving community? When you worship together - is that worship a reflection of who you really are? Are you passionate about the faith that you share?

Quit trying to be things you are not. Don't try to be just like that mega-church down the road. Don't try to be like the cathedral downtown. Don't try to be like the campus ministry or the camp ministry.

Be you. Be the very best you. Small church or large. Aging members or younger. Contemporary or traditional or somewhere in-between. Be you. Not for the sake of who might possibly come, not to attract other sorts of people, but because that is who God has called you to be. Church: God has called you to be fully yourselves, because God loves you. 

Be passionate. Whatever the "style" you worship in, throw all of your energy and heart into it. The words that we say and sing on Sunday -- if we believe them -- are the most important and meaningful words in life. Say them and sing them like you mean them. Because if you aren't passionate about what you say on Sunday morning, why in the world would anyone else care?

Be loving. I missed the time Jesus lectured the disciples about worship style. But I seem to remember some pretty strong words about love.

If you fill the room with love, no one will ever care what sounds are filling the room. Fill the room with love. Love for the community as it is right now. Love for new friends who walk through the door. Love for the community in which the congregation is located. Fill the room with love.

Be you. Be passionate. Be loving. 

I would love to continue the conversation with you on facebook and twitter