If I’m being honest, which I almost always am, I have to admit that there are a thousand things I hate about churches. So many churches have wandered so far away from what I believe Jesus has in mind for his people. I am a millennial and I spend a great deal of time with millennials. Here are 9 (of the probably many more) generic churches that we hate.
1. The church that cares more about maintaining status quo than reaching the lost
Too many churches are filled with people who spend more time building their own little kingdoms than building God’s. The current state affairs is always preferred. Everyone is happy and content with the way things are. This is the church of 100 people that cancels Sunday night services (which have 11 people attending) and then the pastor receives 90 emails wondering if he has lost his mind or been influenced by the evil one. This church cares more about keeping things how they want them than making things how God wants them.
2. The church that talks about service and outreach but never actually does it
This is one the biggest annoyances of millennials about the church in general – that they are thinkers and talkers but not doers. Most churches are all for ministering to the poor and the needy. Most churches are all for salvations and baptisms. But most churches talk and talk and talk about it without ever actually doing anything effective or intentional. They are not focused on going and making disciples because they are too busy talking about it. Millennials hate that.
3. The church that has no vision and no dreams
Churches need a compelling vision in order to grab the hearts of millennials. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and they want to work hard together to build something great. They want to dream big and do whatever it takes to see a powerful vision become a reality and they hate it when churches treat every Sunday like just another Sunday. The same church calendar being printed every year with the same events and the same dates for the same old things like VBS, the Men’s Retreat, the church picnic, and the Christmas concert. Churches without a big picture vision will never attract millennials.
4. The church that is just plain boring
Millennials are the most entertained generation in history and their attention span the shortest in history. They don’t want church to be some fancy production but the only thing worse than that is for church to be downright boring. The announcements are boring. The music is boring. Hey, a good song!!! Oh, another boring one. Then the pastor goes on and on for 50 minutes without cracking a smile or making a joke. Then we sing another boring song that goes on forever. BORING! Millennials hate boring church. A church on mission should be the most exciting thing we are a part of in our lives.
5. The church that avoids culture, or tries to create its own
“You saw an R rated movie last week? Oh… I think you need to spend some time consecrating yourself before you can come back to our Movie in the Park night – where we will be watching Fireproof and Facing the Giants. But don’t forget to have a parent sign the waiver!” Churches today have not only avoided culture at all costs under the facade of purity, but they have gone so far as to create an entire subculture of their own music, movies, books, coffee shops in church buildings, etc. Millennials want to engage culture, not run from it, and they hate it when churches condemn and avoid anything without a Christian label.
6. The church that values personal preference over purpose
“No, we can’t cut THAT part of the budget, Steve might leave the church. No no, we can’t sing THAT song, the Johnson’s said they don’t like the guitar solo. Wait, you want to cancel the Sunday night service and start small groups instead? The seniors bible study will throw a fit!” Oh, if only those were not the type of things I have actually heard in my short time as pastor. Millennials hate churches that value the personal preferences of church members more than the purpose of the church. Most of the time, it is Steve, the Johnson’s, and seniors bible study that are destroying the church’s sense of purpose by demanding the church do as they prefer and millennials hate that.
7. The church that treats millennials like 5-year olds
Millennials hate being called “the church of tomorrow”. They want to serve, the want to lead, and they want to get their hands dirty. They hate being treated like second class church members who are too stupid to tie their own shoes. When churches treat millennials like they have nothing to offer, they will take what they do have to offer to a church that welcomes them as adults capable of leading and serving.
8. The church that has no life
This may seem like common sense, and it should be. The problem is that dying churches rarely realize they are dying soon enough to come back to life OR they care more about preferences and the status quo than having new life. Millennials can tell the difference almost immediately between a church that is growing and a church that is dying. Visible life, growth, and transformation are the most important things for a millennial to see in a church. The only thing millennials hate more than churches that are dying are churches that know they are dying and don’t care enough to do what it takes to find life.
9. The church with no one age 18-29
Millennials value good, Christian community above almost all else when they are looking for a church to join. Everything else about the church might be awesome, but if they look around and there is no one else remotely their age, they will never come back. Everyone needs people at their stage of life to share life with in biblical community, but if Millennials cannot find anyone their age in a church, they probably won’t stay long. Churches that show now effort to connect with Millennials will never end up connecting with them.
Millennials, let me hear from you, what did I miss? What would you add?