One priority question that consistently comes up in our StratOp sessions is, “How can our church attract talented, young leaders?” It would be nice if there was a simple ABC formula that would make young leaders flock to your church. The reality is two churches could sing the exact same songs, have the same modern facilities, and preach an identical message series but still experience completely different results.
How can that be? Because there is not a very simple answer to this question, I’d like to follow-up with three questions of my own:
What are you doing to get millennials in the door?
Churches can’t have millennial leaders without first attracting millennials. This is where I think branding becomes a key factor. It’s important to understand that your brand matters to millennials. Not having a clear brand quickly lumps you in with the thousands of other churches who are not standing out, not being heard and not being known for anything significant.
Millennials want to know the story of why your church has a higher calling than just getting people in the seats. They want to understand how they can fit into the big picture. This story is told in the parking lot, on church signs, digital media and through the culture that is created. These things all matter, and if your church isn’t being intentional, you are probably not seeing your desired results.
When millennials do show up, how do you engage them in leadership roles?
It’s frustrating to see young leaders sitting in the crowd Sunday after Sunday without ever getting plugged into volunteer roles.
Have you considered that your current structure may be making it difficult for leaders to get involved? This happens in both large and small churches. Sharp leaders are trained for a role, they learn the church DNA, show that they are dependable and quickly become a fixture on the team. Once all the necessary roles are filled, recruiting leaders becomes an afterthought until the next leader deficiency arises.
I think every Christian has a role in the church. Deep down, everyone wants to discover that role; everyone wants to make a difference. The problem occurs when churches make it difficult to get involved or unintentionally give off the vibe that they don’t need any more leaders.
If your church is fortunate enough to engage millennial leaders, how do you keep them?
I know an usher who started volunteering when he was 19 and is now 29. Today, this probably isn’t going to be the norm.
Initially, when millennials start a new role, they are excited about the new opportunity and are eager to serve. Greeters, parking lot team members and ushers can always learn new things but there comes a time when someone’s leadership capacity outgrows their current role. When this happens, they may leave the team, looking for something else to inspire and fulfill them. This is where many churches completely miss the mark. They train for roles rather than prioritizing leadership growth.
Leadership development must be an extremely high priority for churches to reach and keep millennial leaders — an essential part of the discipleship process for people who have these gifts. Especially if your church is reaching the unchurched, they will not intuitively know how to get involved in leadership as they grow spiritually unless you are committed to helping them.
So, ask yourself these questions and answer honestly. Our churches need more millennial leaders.