The Small Church & Millennials

Years ago, most people would wake up on Sunday mornings and get ready for church. Not so in the post-Christian community of today. That doesn’t mean everyone isn’t a believer, but that the culture as a whole has forgotten and abandoned their Christian roots and values. Today people don’t even think of church.

Our church buildings and programs alone really don’t have the appeal they did in the past. Instead it comes down to relationships. There’s no age with whom this is more telling than with young adults.


The alarming truth is that millennials, adults between 20 and 35 years old, are leaving the church…rapidly! The Barna Group reports that by the age of 29, 80% of those who were raised in the church will no longer be affiliated with a local body. Sadly, very few will reengage even in some other form of Christian gatherings such as Home Churches or Bible studies. Instead most of them will become part of the growing number of Nones and Dones. (Nones are those with no religious affiliation. Dones are those done with church.)

Recently I heard a short talk by Drew Dyck who writes about postmodernism and is an editor with Christianity Today.  He believes that the smaller church is in a unique position to reach millennials in this post-Christian culture. Here are two reasons why:

  1. It can provide a better family atmosphere

Younger people will connect more with a family environment. They view church as a home, not so much an organization. As a pastor you are a home-maker. The Bibles says that we are family. We are part of the “Household of faith”.

Technology hasn’t brought us together. We are more plugged in than ever before but arguably, we are more disconnected than ever before. The church may be the last bastion of connection, what we call fellowship. Drew says that churches that have intergenerational ministries are attractive and attracting young people.

  1. It can provide a safer place for skeptics

One thing that separates Millennials from the other age groups is that they are constantly asking “Why?” They don’t want to be blindly led. They want discussion, not lecture. Not to disparage our church services, but as a group, millennials are not impressed with the “show” of Sundays. They long for safe environments to express their doubts and worries. That’s where a small church wins out. It’s in authentic relationships they can be loved and experience God’s grace.


As part of our commitment to ongoing education, the Pacific Conference is hosting our next online learning, Reaching the Millennials by Thom Rainer. This will be offered via Zoom video conferencing on Wednesdays at 1:30 pm beginning June 13. You can sign up for the training here.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Bill Vermillion says:

    Thanks Randy. A similar observation is being made here in South Korea now. There is growing emphasis on the small church even what we would call a house church. This is of course different than the mega church growth which South Korea has experienced in the past. It is requiring the denomination which OMS partners with to really do rethinking about the church.


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