By Kristine Miller, CFRE
For many churches, figuring out how to engage Millennials in ministry and giving is one of their most pressing concerns.
Church leaders often lament the absence of young families from the church’s pledge list and Bible study rosters.
Understanding the Millennial mindset is crucial for appealing to this generation that has taken over for Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. The future of the church requires a shift in thinking that meets Millennials where they are and connects with their interests.
Who are these Millennials, and why should we care?
Most studies state Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 — currently ages 22 to 37. Having completed their educations, Millennials are now the largest generational cohort in the U.S. (26%) and in the workforce (35%).
Like the generations before them, Millennial thinking has been shaped by a few key events: the events of September 11, 2001; their coming-of-age during an economic recession; and tremendous advancements in technology.
Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in history and saw the election of the America’s first black President.
During their formative years, volunteerism and community service increased, and team activities were encouraged.
Society viewed children as “special,” resulting in Millennials’ high expectations for achieving success.
During their teen years, drinking, smoking and violent crime rates decreased.
Technological advancements have resulted in Millennials being constantly connected on cell phones and computers — checking their cell phones, on average, 150 times per day.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of Millennials say the characteristics of their generation define them more than religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, social class or political party.
Millennials remain a formidable cohort. How can the church make a strong connection?
- Embrace technology
Some churches have not completed the transition into the digital age by optimizing their websites for mobile phones and tablets.
Eighty-four percent (84%) of Millennials made a donation averaging $580 last year. More than half of Millennial donations were made online. And, as Millennials achieve more financial success, donations will likely increase. To engage Millennials in giving, you must provide a smooth and easy process for online donations.
- Assist them with debt
Millennials graduated with substantial student debt, currently totaling $1.4 trillion. Student debt is now twice as high as credit card debt in the U.S.
For Millennials to become truly generous, they must first tackle this debt burden. To help with debt, consider hosting a financial management class, such as Financial Peace University or Crown Ministries. Helping Millennials get out from under their debt will enable them to participate in giving.
- Show them impact
Millennials are cause-oriented rather than institution-oriented. Telling historical information about your church will not inspire their generosity. However, showing the impact their giving made will connect them with a cause and generate their support.
Millennials believe in their ability to make the world a better place. Show them how they’re doing just that through their donations. Affirm their contribution made a positive difference, and Millennials will continue their support.
“10 Lit Ways to Engage with Millennials in Ministry & Giving”
The secret is engagement.
In this informative and fun 1-hour webinar, learn how to reach and connect with Millennials from ministry experts Kristine Miller and Len Wilson from Horizons Stewardship Company.
Dispel myths and discover basic truths about the Millennial generation and the key events that are shaping them, including latest research and best practices for your ministry setting.
(1) What is true (and what isn’t) about the Millennial generation
(2) The latest research findings about Millennials and their views on philanthropy and giving
(3) What engagement is, and why it’s the No. 1 key for this generation
(4) How to develop messages, channels and communication tactics for reaching Millennials in your church.
- Provide volunteer opportunities in the community
Whether in person or online, Millennials love being a part of a community. Last year, Millennials volunteered, on average, 40 hours. Community service was a part of their teen years and is an important value for Millennials.
Provide short-term volunteer roles where Millennials can put their skills to good use and make the world a better place. Create volunteer opportunities for Millennials, and ask them to invite their friends. If it’s worth doing, it’s better doing it with friends.
- Tell your story on social media
Millennials receive the majority of their news and information from online sources and social media. Before making most purchases, Millennials will read reviews on Yelp, customer reviews, and crowdsource opinions from their friends on Facebook.
By telling your story and interacting with Millennials online, you can build relationships and gain support. Because Millennials are cause-oriented, not institution-oriented, don’t be surprised if some friends of your Millennials also begin interacting with your church on social media.
- Give Millennials a voice
Millennials have been raised to believe their voice and opinions matter. If you want to know what Millennials really think, why not ask them?
Millennials are unlikely to sign up for a multi-year board position; but, finding ways to bring Millennials together — and asking them what they want from the church — will likely result in new insights and understandings.
There is much to learn about how to engage Millennials. For more insights and information, register for a free webinar, “10 Lit Ways to Engage with Millennials in Ministry and Giving” on Wednesday, September 19 at 1 p.m. Central time, featuring generosity experts Kristine Miller, CFRE (myself), and Len Wilson from Horizons Stewardship.
Kristine Miller, CFRE, is Partner & Senior Vice President at Horizons Stewardship.