by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/12/16.
I have found that many churches lead by Boomers tend to adopt the approach of focusing on the churchgoers … in hopes of attracting the non-churchgoers. The Millennial Generation have been raised in this milieu and often see the ineffectiveness of an attractional approach. In the book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press) I point out that researchers find Millennials generally preferring to focus on others before themselves. Not surprisingly I have found Millennial-led churches tend to focus on meeting the needs of non-churchgoers as a way to help the churchgoers mature in faith (and not the other way around). This is analogous to what Richard Sterns calls “filling the hole in the Gospel.”
While conversing with a student on this, he pushed back (which is always fine) responding the spending time on crafting mission and vision statements creates an attraction for Millennials. He thus concluded, “However, I would stand my ground in that millennials are hungry for something of real substance. And something can’t have real substance unless it has Christ-centered mission and vision which is clearly communicated.”
I responded that I would restate that slightly, and say, “Millennials are hungry for something of real substance. And something can’t have real substance unless a church spends more time proactively living Christ’s mission than parsing statements and advertising them.”
I know this latter phrase was not what the student was suggesting, but I find it is often what the Church is doing … and hence, my warning.