The mass exodus of Millennials (today's 18- to 30-year-olds) from their Christian faith has caused many to wring their hands about the future of the church. Some have answered Millennials' criticisms that the church is irrelevant and boring by trying to be trendy and hip.
However, a new study—Making Space for Millennials, a joint project of Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network—reveals that Millennials may be looking for just the opposite.
Apparently, Millennials wish the church would simply be the church.
Here are four key findings from the Barna/CKN research that point to this conclusion:
1. Modularity. Modularity describes the way Millennials assemble their life. When it comes to religion, they pick and choose the spiritual teaching they want to receive, because they were born into a digital world and literally have access to a constant stream of information.
What they don't always have is the wisdom to understand what teaching is trustworthy and what is not. "Millennials are looking to mature Christians to help them curate Truth from all the content that's available to them," says Ed Bahler, CEO of Aspen Group and co-founder of the CKN.
2. Visual clarity. Millennials in the Barna/CKN study expressed an appreciation for clear messaging on where to go once they enter the church and where to find information. They want to be able to answer the questions, "Where am I?" and "What's expected of me?"
Whether a church looks more like a cathedral or a modern megachurch, Millennials appreciate the visual clarity that good signage and clear messaging provides.
3. Respite. Our culture is highly fragmented and frenetic, and there are few places to take a breather and gain much-needed perspective.
"Millennials are leading highly fragmented lives," says David Kinnaman, president of Barna. "In Making Space for Millennials, they expressed a strong desire that churches not compete with this, but rather offer something different and unique." Churches that build in quiet places for personal rest are providing a meaningful respite from Millennials' fast-paced lives.
4. Nature. Churches can help point people to God, regardless of the type of architecture of their facility, by bringing nature into the church. Millennials say that nature is an element that helps them connect with God. And it helps address their need for respite.
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