Together We Disciple

Tailoring Ministry To Resonate With Each Generation

Every church leader has a deep desire to connect, resonate with, and grow their people. And while they might all belong to one church body, a factor that influences how each person will experience church and growth is their generation. Each one has its own unique characteristics, beliefs, values, and preferences. As a result, discipling different generations in the modern church requires intentionality in your efforts to connect them. We’ll cover key differences between each generation’s attendance, giving, and engagement so you can more effectively disciple them.

Attendance and engagement

It was only a few years ago when a Gallup poll revealed that only 47% of U.S. adults belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, and that membership was even more in decline. But digging into those numbers, we can see that church membership is also strongly correlated with age: 66% of traditionalists (born before 1946) are members, 58% of baby boomers, 50% of those in Generation X, and 36% of millennials. So as younger generations grow up, less and less are joining the church.

The numbers are similar when it comes to church attendance as well. A 2023 study from Arizona Christian University found that attendance has been declining, compared to 3 years ago across all generations.

Traditionalists and baby boomers are more likely to attend church weekly (53% and 38%, respectively), while only 28% of millennials attend a service, in-person or online.

As the number of engaged church members continues shrinking with each generation, church leaders need to address the underlying reasons.

Traditionalists and baby boomers tend to value community, tradition, and the importance of church membership. On the other hand, millennials prioritize authenticity, social justice, and inclusivity in their church experience. With that knowledge, church leaders can better create intentional and relevant discipleship strategies to engage each generation in their faith journey.

Giving habits

A crucial piece of every person’s discipleship journey is generosity. It’s not about where, when, or how much they’re giving, but the spirit behind their generosity. Each generation has its unique patterns, preferences, and abilities to give.

Barna found that traditionalists and baby boomers tend to give more generously than younger generations and that most Christians (across all the generations) believe Boomers are the most sacrificial with their time and money. This could be due to their financial stability and sense of responsibility towards their church community.

However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean younger generations aren’t generous. You may have a lot of younger Gen Z and millennial members with young families who tend to prioritize giving to causes that align with their values and beliefs or giving through service, emotional support, and gifts. One factor influencing their preference for giving could be that 65% of Gen Zers and 74% of millennials say they are starting further behind financially than earlier generations at their age, based on a study from USA Today.

To spark greater generosity within your church, it’s crucial to keep out the assumption that giving financially is the only way to be generous. Instead they can be generous through time, talents, or resources. By providing opportunities for them to engage in hands-on service and using their unique skills in ministry settings, you can help foster a culture of generosity among younger generations.

Becoming intentionally intergenerational

It’s clear that each generation has distinct characteristics and preferences regarding attendance, engagement, and generosity in the church. However, these differences don’t have to be barriers to discipleship. In fact, these differences in experiences, expectations, abilities, and interests are God-given and each person has been uniquely placed in your church to help fulfill your mission. The strongest ministries engage with a wide range of generations and provide different opportunities tailored to each’s preference. Knowing who is part of your congregation, you can create a church environment where everyone feels connected!

The Church likely has the largest diversity in age out of any other group! Learn how to create harmony among the different generations and empower them to learn together with the free ebook 5 Ways for Church Leaders to Engage the Next Generation.



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