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10 Values Of Millennials Shaping The Church

by Frank Powell

The Millennials are unique. No one remotely familiar with the generational landscape would deny it. This generation possesses a unique set of values, passions, and desires. And these values and passions perplex many people. Some believe the Millennials are the generation the church (and the world) needs. Others are scared of the next generation. The Millennials are too accepting. They have no convictions. They ask too many questions.

Regardless of where any one stands with the Millennials, their values are shaping the church now. And this reality is why I write this post.

So, I want to highlight a few values that define Millennials. Hopefully this post will give the church a greater understanding of the next generation. At the same time I hope to alert people to the cultural waves shaping the church and shaping the world. Not that the church should be riding cultural waves. But the church needs to see the waves coming.

Here are 10 values of Millennials shaping the church and impacting the world.

1.) Millennials give to causes not institutions.

The Huffington Post reported recently giving in churches has reached Depression-era lows (article here). According to the research by Empty Tomb, the average Christian gives 2.1% of their income. That’s low. Churches all across the country are struggling to meet their budget.

Why? At least in part, this can be blamed on a shift that centers around the Millennials. They are asking questions. “Why do we need a softball field at our church? Where is my money actually going? Why are we adding on to the building when there are needs in the world?” All legitimate questions.

Millennials are giving to causes today, not institutions. Find me a church that is exceeding budget, and I will show you a church that openly attacks causes. Giving to the local church because “we are supposed to” is not good enough for this generation.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Giving to the local church because “we are supposed to” is not good enough for this generation.[/tweet_box]

Millennials do not need the local church to do good in the world. With just a few clicks, they can support a water well project in Africa or an orphaned child in China. The church needs to take notice.

2.) They are relentless optimists.

This generation is unbelievably optimistic about the world. Are they in a financial bind? Yes. Are they struggling to find jobs? Yes. Are they allowing present circumstances to hinder future hopes? Absolutely not. They believe they can make a difference, and Millennials are not waiting for the church, the government, or any other group to change it for them.

3.) Millennials will be the most educated generation in history.

Here is why this is important. More education = more debt. More debt = less money to give away. This plays back into number one. Precisely because there is less money to give forces this generation to look more closely at how their money is being used. They want to make every dollar count.

Here is the other layer to this point. Millennials have information at their fingertips. And they know how to access it. The most gifted speakers in the world are a click away. This means the days of throwing together sermons and classes are over. Millennials want to be challenged. And they will not sit at the feet of unprepared, unprayerful men and women.

4.) They believe strongly in racial and socio-economic reconciliation.

Millennials value reconciliation. They value it in every sector of life. “Make love, not war” is a fitting slogan for this generation. Churches constantly bickering and arguing with other churches are going to struggle to reach the next generation. Churches that do not see racial reconciliation as a necessary component of the gospel are going to struggle as well.

5.) Millennials believe in quality over convenience.

Millennials attach to companies, foods, websites that are done well. Call it excellent. A ran across an article that noted the shift (mainly with Millennials) of quality over convenience. Many Millennials will go out of their way to eat at restaurants with higher quality food, attend churches that focus on the details, and attend conferences with dynamic speakers.

In a world with millions of options, Millennials are being drawn to quality over convenience and quantity. They will go out their way for quality. They will pay more for quality. Millennials believe in excellence. And they believe God values it too.

6.) Millennials value Jesus over denominational ties.

This is really going to bother some leaders who love their “group” and believe their denomination is the best (or only) one. Millennials do not value denominational allegiances like previous generations. Personally, I think this is refreshing. Millennials who remain connected to the church want to make Jesus famous. They will seek out those churches doing the same…regardless of the name on the outside.

7.) Millennials see technology and social media as essential components of church evangelism and discipleship.

Millennials do not understand life outside of computer and internet. It is part of their makeup. And they don’t understand why churches wouldn’t utilize social media to the fullest. It is a tool. A way to reach the world for the glory of God.

Yes, social media presents its own unique set of downfalls. But churches who want to attract Millennials better get connected. Quickly.

8.) Millennials do not value titles and labels.

This is a generational shift. The Millennials are not trying to acquire the dream title…they are trying to find the dream job.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Millennials are seeking the dream job, not the dream title.[/tweet_box]

Many Millennials are concerned with a job that will bring satisfaction and contentment. And they have heard too many stories of former CEOs and presidents who are miserable and stressed. Do not pitch Millennials a title. “One day you could be CEO. One day you could be lead pastor.”

Again, Millennials want to make a difference. For some, they will make a difference by leading a company as CEO. For others, they will make a difference by doing something else. But titles will not drive most Millennials.

9.) Millennials are the largest generation in the history of the world.

This has enormous implications for the church and every other sector of society. The church needs to know and understand the ideals of the Millennials because they are present in every arena of society. For churches to value evangelism, they must value the next generation.

This is the largest generation in the world. It is also the most non-Christian generation. The church better find out how to reach this group.

10.) Millennials are counter-cultural, not anti-cultural.

And there is an enormous difference between the two. The next generation wants to live out their faith in the midst of the culture. What does this mean for the church? Millennials will plug-in to churches that challenge people to step into the darkness of the world. And redeem that darkness for the glory of God.

The church has been against the evils of the culture for decades. Attempts have been made to remove Christians from any appearance of evil. The problem with this mindset is Christ calls us to step into darkness. We are the light. Millennials are willing to risk some scars and bruises for the glory of God to be made known to the world.

And they might be naive enough to believe the power of the gospel is enough to push back legitimate darkness.


Again, I simply want to highlight some values of Millennials. Churches that value reaching the next generation should take note. This generation is different. But, as I have said before, different is not wrong. It is different.

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!

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Paul Smith November 4, 2014 - 11:58 am

Hi Frank, just a comment about number 3. Millennials are NOT the most educated generation in history. You are confusing information with education. Just because you can access millions of pages of information on your tablet or smart phone does not make you educated. I deal with some of the most profoundly un-educated young people who have the greatest tools for education ever provided. That is a clear distinction that needs to be made.

Also, I am not sure about your number 5 and 10, as I see the direct opposite. I see a generation driven by convenience, and who are absolute slaves to culture. Are you going by personal experience? If so, that would explain your observations vs. mine. I am not saying you are necessarily wrong, but I just do not see these conclusions playing out in my experience. I am an instructor at a state university in the Southwest, if that helps you at all.

Frank Powell November 7, 2014 - 6:50 am

Paul, I was referring to some research done by the Pew Research that projects the Millennials to be the most educated generation on earth (http://www.pewresearch.org/millennials/). My reference was simply to book knowledge and the effects of more education from a broad perspective. Tools do not equal education. But access to these tools, combined with the education factor, speak to the point I made above. My perception of Millennials is a combination of my own personal experiences and the experiences of those I talk with. Yes, there are those who don’t fit the values I describe. But I choose to look optimistically at the future of this generation. There are a lot of men and women driven by these values. Thanks!

Paul Smith November 7, 2014 - 10:05 am

Hi Frank, and thanks for the clarification. But therein lies the problem – it seems we are working on two different definitions of education. The Pew Research appears to be working on quantitative evidence – numbers of Bachelors degrees, Masters degrees, etc., when I am referring to a qualitative aspect. It may very well be that more degrees will be issued to this generation, but the mere possession of a diploma does not equal education in the classic sense of the word. If you measure education strictly by degrees conferred and other numerical measures, then I would agree that this generation will be the most “educated.” But, I can attest from personal experience that our high schools are graduating more and more students who simply cannot function in an environment that demands critical thinking and the evaluation of conflicting opinions/data. Also, I would sincerely suggest that the generation that figured out how to put a man on the moon was far more educated than this generation that struggles to put objects into low earth orbit. Don’t get me wrong – I want this generation to succeed, but it’s just too early to declare their achievements quite yet. Time will reveal how “educated” the millennials actually become.

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