Millennials and Church

By Bart Frost

Where Do Unitarian Universalists Fit In?

A photo posted by YaYAUUA (@instayayauua) on May 12, 2015 at 7:58am PDT

According to research coming from the Barna Group, 30% of Millennials say attending church is not important. 30% say attending church is important and 40% fall somewhere in the middle. What does this mean for Unitarian Universalism? It means we need to look at the ways our congregations minister to Millennials. 44% of Millennials go to church to feel closer to God and 39% find God elsewhere. What would the Millennials in your congregation say? Do they find god sitting in the pews next to them on Sunday morning? Can they recognize the holiness during coffee hour? Do they feel the spirit of life during worship? For a long time, I was one of those who did not find god at church. I found community and the divine interconnectedness of our faith at General Assembly. That was where I connected with the holy. For many of my friends in the faith, they have similar answers. Our numbers and anecdotes say that for most of them the answer is no. They find god elsewhere in the world, on top of mountains, in the ocean, sharing a meal with friends, fighting oppression or serving in their community. If Millennials are finding god outside of our walls, are we reaching outside of our walls? Here are some ways you can help serve the Millennials in your community by reaching outside of your walls:
  • Hold a monthly day of community service.
  • Start a community garden.
  • Organize family-friendly summer picnics or hikes.
You can't just reach out though, you need to invite in. And this is where it gets tricky.
A photo posted by YaYAUUA (@instayayauua) on May 12, 2015 at 9:37am PDT
66% of Millennials say that churchgoers are hypocritical. Are you inviting visitors in to your congregation and then making them feel unwelcome by ignoring them at coffee hour? Is your congregation standing up for Unitarian Universalist values every single day? And yet 65% say that church is a place to find answers to live a meaningful life. I know I found some answers to living a meaningful life through teaching religious education classes and serving as a Director of Religious Education. That's where I made my life more meaningful and then church became more meaningful to me. You can help Millennials find answers by:
  • Remembering Millennials need pastoral care too! For most, their lives are filled with transitions and it never hurts to have an extra support system.
  • Provide opportunities for Millennials to gather.
  • Provide opportunities for Millennials to be mentored and mentor.
I invite you to share the ways your congregation and community minister to the Millennials among you in the comments below!