Declining Millennial Church Attendance and Emerging Technology

Declining Millennial church attendance and attitudes toward organized religion is a huge problem for the church community.

How huge?

While Millennials may not be the next “Greatest Generation” they will certainly become one of the largest in history. For context, Baby Boomers were 71 million strong in 2016. But experts expect Millennials to surpass Boomers by 2019 with 74 million – and swell to 81 million by 2036.

These two demographics have different needs from their church community. But unlike some of their older counterparts, Millennial church attendance is at a steadily decline.

What do Millennials think of Church?

Millennials want to be a part of the conversation. They value receptivity above all else. When the church moves forward without ever asking for Millennial input, they get the message loud and clear: “This church does not care what we think.”

  • 59% of Millennials who grew up in the church are opting out
  • Only two of ten Millennials view church attendance as important
  • 35% of Millennials take an anti-church position, believing the church does more harm than good

Despite declining Millennial church attendance, most churches have continued on with business as usual. Sure, maybe you could hold a live show or add a food truck to attach younger members to your church. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough to hold off the staggering number of Millennials leaving the church.

Yet, it is important not to become discouraged by declining Millennial church attendance. Indeed, our culture has shifted away from traditional institutions that provide stability and familiarity in uncertain times. However, declining Millennial church attendance does not have to be an accepted reality. The church can still provide the answers many young people are seeking. What churches can do to stem the flow of Millennials leaving their churches is to offer more opportunities for Millennial input.

In fact, churches need to embrace the idea of a more flexible schedule but also more flexible options for engagement.  Most Millennials are digital natives.  Social media has become ubiquitous and essential to not just larger churches, but all churches. It allows for connection 24/7.  But this connection is not always real-time. The next step is offering an even more connection to the community beyond “walls and weekends”. Support available in a crisis or a service event can mean more than an invite or post after the fact.