If you were asked to picture the regular attendees of an average local church, a few things might come to mind:
You might think of a quaint, middle-class family who bring their 2.5 kids to church every Sunday before heading back to their mundane jobs Monday morning. You might picture a gaggle of teenagers who came just to see their friends or the occasional college student who still goes to church out of habit.
But chances are, you don’t imagine world changers, visionaries or even fired-up young people sitting in those pews every Sunday morning. And maybe you think that if you join those people you just pictured, you’ll become just like your caricature of them: flat and apathetic or unaware of the needs around you.
Many Millennials fear being “domesticated” by the local church—that being involved will quench any passion for God or put out the flames of faith. For many, it’s not God that is the issue, it’s the Church. The idea of living an adventurous life for God, following where He leads and stepping out in faith is, for many, a juxtaposition of what life in the local church is like.
Yet the local church holds a key place in the life of any Christian—Millennial or not—and its impact, importance and influence should not be dismissed. Here are a few reasons Millennials need to be involved in the local church.
The local church roots Millennials in a community
Millennials are, more than any other generation, prone to not putting down roots. The tendency among Millennials is to drift—to find satisfaction wherever it appears best, and then to move on when the grass gets greener on the other side.
The local church, by its nature, is deeply ingrained in its community. The local church is known by those around it, and in return knows those around it. The ability to know those to whom you are ministering is deeply impactful. It allows for relationships to be built, nurtured and maintained.
Many Millennials are, in fact, looking for this deep level of community, but sadly do not see the local church as providing it. There is a sense of belonging and doing life together that can only be found in the local church. For a generation looking for community, integrity and authentic relationships, it doesn’t get much better than the local church.
The local church provides Millennials with wise people to learn from
The rise of the Millennial generation—and the potential that comes with them—is one of the most exciting and exhilarating factors the worldwide church faces at the moment. The local church offers a safe environment for Millennials to grow, develop fruits and discern their paths—all the while supported and equipped by wiser figures who have been there and done it before.
This element of local church life is one of the most under-exaggerated, and yet has an impact that is almost impossible to quantify. Having older, wiser figures around allows Millennials the space to push themselves, receive counsel and— importantly for this perfectionist generation—fail.
The local church gains as much from Millennials as they pour into it
Millennials want to contribute. They want to change the world and be part of making the world a better place. For many, that passion is a key component behind their motivation to constantly seek new challenges and fresh situations.
Being part of a local church allows Millennials to pour themselves into that which they are passionate about—social justice, education, charitable work, ministry and so on. As a result, almost every time, there is a noticeable effect on the church.
Service in church should certainly not be carried out with an end goal of gaining praise in mind, but at the same time, there is a huge benefit to the wider church body of having a core of Millennials. This younger generation constantly pushes the boundaries, pushes the church forward and often has a vision bigger than many others. This will inevitably lead to times where they bite of more than they can chew, but the positive impact and surge in excitement felt by the wider church is unquestionable.
The local church provides millennials with a safe, secure place at a time of transition
Those in the Millennial age bracket face a huge time of transition. Finishing school, starting work, finding a partner, starting a family, buying a house—these are only some of the major life events Millennials encounter. At a time of life when there is so much in flux and so much uncertainty, having a local church to call home, surrounded and supported by a community on your side, has invaluable benefits.
Those not plugged into and rooted in a local church face the risk of letting church attendance slip when life gets busy—the tendency being that of all the things to give up, church goes first. Millennials at the heart of a local church are much more likely to be supported, convicted and challenged to ensure their faith and relationship with God is at the heart of all they do.
There is no such thing as a perfect local church. But the impact of being part of a local church is transformative. It is tragic to see so many—millennial or not—abandon the local church in search of either a perfect church (of which there are none) or a lifestyle outside of church.
Bill Hybels was right when he said, “The local church is the hope of the world.” That is a truth the Millennial generation must grab hold of and fully embrace. If they do, they and their churches have the potential to change the world.