Welcoming The Last of the Millennials to Your Church

The human brain, seen in profile, with the title, "Mindset 2021"

By Bart Frost

The Annual Beloit College Mindset List is released for each new entering class as way to acknowledge the differences in worldview (or mindset) of incoming first-years. Originally, it was intended as a way to remind professors to watch their references with students. It continues to serve this purpose and has become a larger pop culture touchstone reminding the public of the worldview of 18 year olds. This year’s list, for the Class of 2021, reminds us that:

They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials — enter next year, on cue, Generation Z!

This is an opportunity for you and your congregation to explore how you might be more welcoming to younger folks in your congregation. Beloit also publishes a discussion guide relating to the list to be used be counselors, professors and students. What conversations have you, your Board or Lifespan Religious Education team had that are similar to these? What conversations could you be having?

Three points from the list that can help you explore how your church serves and relates to younger folks:

  1. The Class of 2021 the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, and research library.

Is your website mobile optimized and is the information a young visitor needs to be able to show up front and center? Are your service and office hours listed on Google? Do you offer texting as a way to communicate with the minister or seek pastoral care? Do you offer mobile giving?

2. Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.

Amazon mastered home delivery, how is your congregation ministering to students where they are? Do you offer transportation for students? Do you send care packages to your students while they are at school? How do you provide spiritual and emotional sustenance during high stress times?

3. Men have always shared a romantic smooch on television.

Do you remember when they couldn’t show a toilet on Leave it to Beaver or mention Lucy’s pregnancy? What is considered acceptable in mainstream society changes over time. Queer was once a word for “odd,” then a slur, and is now openly embraced by many young folks as a positive identity. If you want a taste of what the younger folks are talking about these days, just check out Teen Vogue, full of information about safer sex, healthy relationships, and challenging oppression! What is your community doing to stay educated and culturally relevant?

Here are three additional ways you can welcome our youngest adults into your faith community:

  1. Put your congregation’s young adult or campus ministry on The HubMap. Need support doing outreach with young adults or starting a campus ministry? Email our young adult and campus ministry association, Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken at agonzalez@uua.org.
  2. Study up on Coffee Hour Caution and the version adapted by the Quaker General Conference.
  3. Feed them. Both food and spiritually, be willing to make changes. Host “family dinners” and invite college students and other emerging adults to be a part of the family. Bring care packages. Provide rides to the annual Animal Blessing.

What are the ways you are welcoming the last of the millennials? Share in the comments!