“There’s no doubt that the young unmarried, or the married and childless, are not in the pews,” acknowledged Leigh Shaw, director of Christian education at Peace United Church of Christ. And the situation in Fort Wayne mirrors the rest of the country.
“For local Millennials and their participation in local congregations, the data is on track with national trends,” said Hallman.
“There’s a sense of a missing generation,” concurred Shawn Davis, missional pastor at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. So, many churches are revisiting their programming and style of worship to appeal to Millennials.
“At Sonrise, I began a Wednesday- night gathering for [young adults] to come join us,” said Hammond. “We discuss topics that are relevant to where they are in life, like career choices, relationship issues, sexuality, temptation, forgiveness, service, identity, how to live out our faith and much more.“
Davis described St. Michael’s program, called The Bridge, which is mostly targeted internally to young members of the congregation who have not been engaged before. “The “Are we talking about keeping people in our church? Or are we talking about keeping people with God? The first is a business model; the second is being a pastor. Churches should give up the idea of capturing the Millennial market. You can’t evangelize to a demographic. Get back to the idea of ministering to the individual.”
Eggold pointed out that churches can’t rely on Millennials sticking with a particular church if it isn’t meeting their needs. “Millennials are drawn to a place where they can connect with other people. To them, the denomination isn’t important; the connection is more important than the worship style or theology.”