“College kids, twenty-somethings, even high schoolers- they’re so flaky.”
I’ve heard this so many times. Especially from church leaders. I even believed it. For, like, a day.
But then I realized I show up for things. And my same-aged friends show up for things. Consistently. Actually, we are pretty good at it.
So why do so many churches have such trouble getting millenials through their doors? Well, there are several reasons, but here is the biggest one I’ve found to be true:
We feel like we’ve been lied to when we’ve been lied to.
So we tend not to believe lies. Why would we want to show up to something we think is being lied about? Let me give you some examples:
EXAMPLE 1 : God told me to ____________ ( <–thing that is a personal idea).
So many have broken up with someone or have been dumped by someone using this whopper. “I just feel like God is telling me to focus on my own blahdy blah blah bloop.” Followed by an emotional goodbye. Followed by seeing that person dating someone else a week later. Followed by the dumpee being mad at both the dumper and God. Lame.
Churches do the same thing from the pulpit, from the bulletin, and, if they’re relevant, they do it in 140 or less. Solution: Be real. Take ownership of your ideas, plans, discernments. If what you’re saying is something you passionately feel is a result of your interpretation of the Bible colliding with your prayers and discernment, why not call it that? This post by Carey Nieuwhof is an awesome example of the right way to think about it.
EXAMPLE 2 : Everything is marketed as “Exciting”
Or they’re pumped. Or psyched. Or they CAN’T WAIT!
I tend to think this one is just lazy copy writing. “We’re so excited to hear about…” “This Sunday is going to be so exciting…” “This exciting new series…” Ugh. Spare me, Jessie Spano, we know you can’t really be that excited about everything- you’re probably just scared no one is going to show up to your thing.
Solution: Pace yourself with that word. Can some of your upcoming events perhaps be described with different rhetoric? Is it going to be heartfelt? Bold? Challenging? Choose the words that actually describe what is happening.
Besides, everything was EXTREME TO THE MAX for us in the nineties and we got over it. Save that excitement for when you really really mean it. And even then, use restraint.
EXAMPLE 3 : Numbers.
Really? You had 120 people at your Bible study last Wednesday? I could have sworn it looked like the same 52 people who are there every week. …And some of them were asleep.
It’s as if church leaders of older generations either can’t count or think no one else can, bless their hearts.
Solution: Stop. Just stop it. From now on 52 = 52.
Really, I know no one likes being lied to. All the hyperbole, exaggeration, and forced emotion has taken a larger toll on college students, twenty somethings, and high schoolers. So let’s call a spade a spade starting now. And BONUS: You’ll feel truthful when you’re telling the truth.
How do you feel when you’ve been lied to by a church?