February 25, 2020 Tony Morgan

#OkBoomer: 10 Signs Your Weekend Services Aren’t Designed for the Next Generation

You can’t reach the next generation of young adults without being a church for young adults.

That’s right. The 1990s called, and they want their Sunday services back.

I just counted them up. Last year the team at The Unstuck Group conducted “secret shopper” experiences at 65 different churches across the country. That’s part of the ministry health assessment we include in our Unstuck process.

Based on that experience, we’re learning a lot about what’s working…and not working…when it comes to designing weekend services with the next generation in mind. I’ve mentioned this before. You can’t reach the next generation of young adults without being a church for young adults. In other words, everything you do must be designed with the next generation in mind. You can’t reach the next generation of young adults without being a church for young adults. Click To Tweet

That includes the way you teach. The music you play. The environments you create. The way that you communicate. The topics you address. The stories you tell. The next steps you offer. The events on your calendar. And whatever else you’re doing as a church.

Or, let me state it another way. You can’t be a church with a separate service for young adults and expect to reach young adults. You can’t just have a Sunday School class for young adults and expect to reach young adults. You can’t just hire a pastor of young adults and expect to reach young adults. Instead, you have to become a church for young adults. You can’t be a church with a separate service for young adults and expect to reach young adults. Click To Tweet

And that brings me back to our secret shopper experiences. Our team has noticed some “OK, Boomer” moments in the services they’ve experienced. Just to confirm what they were telling me, I circled back with my young adult children to get their perspective as well.

With that in mind, here are:

10 Signs Your Weekend Services Aren’t Designed for the Next Generation

1. You tell people to open up their Bibles and turn to a certain chapter and verse.

The next generation carries their Bibles with them all the time…on their phone app. “Turn on your Bibles” would be more appropriate.

2. You are concerned about the volume of the music, the amount of haze or the movement of lights during the music.

Yes, you will absolutely find a young adult that prefers softer music, no haze and no moving lights, but they probably have learned those preferences from their churchy parents. Churches that are reaching the next generation in large numbers are concerned not only for the specific music that they use but the worship experience that they are creating. Churches that are reaching the next generation in large numbers are concerned not only for the specific music that they use but the worship experience that they are creating. Click To Tweet

3. You pass the offering plate.

…unless you have a way for people to Venmo that offering plate. You’re highly unlikely to find the next generation carrying cash or their checkbook. Scratch that. They don’t even own a checkbook.  You’re highly unlikely to find the next generation carrying cash or a checkbook. Unless you have a way for people to Venmo that offering plate, it's not going to serve the purpose it has in the past. Click To Tweet

4. You ask new guests to complete a connection card.

That’s antiquated. Young adults use messaging apps to communicate. WhatsApp? Exactly.

5. Your message illustrations draw on movie, celebrity or other cultural references from the last decade or earlier.

Yes, you need to study God’s word, but you also need to study today’s culture if you want to teach truth and help the next generation apply it to their lives. No more Lord of the Rings clips please.

6. You still have a CD ministry for people who don’t know how to stream messages on their phones or computers.

Don’t laugh. I saw one during a church visit within the last couple of months.

7. You give people bulletins or other handouts as they’re entering your service.

First of all, the next generation views that as environmentally insensitive. (And so do I, for that matter.) Beyond that, the next generation expects anything of importance to be communicated online—everywhere they might possibly go to look for it. If it’s important, it should be on your website, on all of your social media accounts, and on your app. If it’s important, it’s findable in under 30 seconds. If it's important, it should be on your website, on all of your social media accounts, and on your app. If it's important, it's findable in under 30 seconds. Click To Tweet

8. You still promote new membership classes during your services.

The next generation is not a member of anything. It’s a foreign concept to them. They’ll subscribe to Netflix, but membership in an institution? Not a chance.

9. You aren’t creating Instagrammable moments.

In other words, you need to create environments and moments that are so captivating that young adults want to let their friends and followers know about it.

10. Your technology is outdated.

I’ve been in way too many church auditoriums where the audio and video quality was poor. Most young adults have better technology in their living rooms or in the palm of their hands than many churches have in their auditoriums.

Here’s a bonus—

You planned the services and the teaching without giving any young adults a voice in the process. How can you expect to connect with the next generation if you don’t include them in the planning of your worship and teaching experiences? How can you expect to connect with the next generation if you don’t include them in the planning of your worship and teaching experiences? Click To Tweet

There were several great churches that risked a lot a few decades ago to help us move from traditional to contemporary weekend services. The problem is that many churches haven’t moved since.

Are you expecting to reach the next generation in weekend services that meet your preferences but aren’t at all connecting with young adults?

Ok, Boomer.

Let’s not make it difficult for those who are taking a step towards God. Let’s do everything we can to meet them where they are.


Not sure where to start? We’re helping hundreds of churches build a plan to reach the next generation. Learn how the Unstuck Process works, or if you’d like to connect, let’s talk.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.