“Millennials care more about dogs than kids.”
Those were the words of a frustrated pastor, struggling to involve millennial leaders in the children’s ministry of the church.
The church had found some success connecting Millennials to various missions and service opportunities around the city, but couldn’t seem to engage people in one of their most important ministry opportunities . . . family ministry.
There are about 80 million Americans born after 1980 and before 2000. TV networks are trying to figure out how to reach them. Political parties are trying to figure out how to engage them. And church leaders are trying to figure out how to understand them.
For this growing church to continue reaching young families, they needed to find a way to get Millennials involved in children’s ministry.
Maybe your church is in the same situation.
Here are four keys to connecting Millennials in your church to volunteer roles in your church.
#1 – Connect the role to a greater purpose.
Millennials in the workforce don’t just care about what a company sells. They care about how. And they care about why. They pay attention to a company’s culture and work environment.
They care about the cause.
So if you want to engage Millennials in your family ministry, you’ve got to make it about more than filling a position for an hour on Sunday.
They need to see how what they do impacts the overall ministry and mission of the church. They need to see tangible evidence of success and a clear line between what they do and what moves the needle.
Purpose is more than a buzzword for Millennials. It’s absolutely key to engagement.
#2 – Give Millennials freedom to actually lead.
I was talking to an owner of a restaurant who was sharing his struggles in working with Millennials. Their need for purpose and empowerment didn’t fit into a process-driven workflow like fast food. It’s a common struggle for business owners who simply need things done.
Whether you like it or not, the Millennial generation isn’t excited about mundane tasks . . . they want freedom to lead.
There’s a lesson here for church leaders.
In order to engage Millennials in your children’s ministry, you’ll need to create opportunities (or at least a path) to leadership.
Guidelines and coaching are helpful, but at the end of the day, look to give away leadership not just volunteer positions.
Invite opinions. Welcome feedback. Push down decision-making.
#3 – Create flexible positions.
Millennials crave flexibility.
They want the freedom to hang out with friends, travel to new places, and work late. A Bently University study found 77 percent of Millennials say flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive.
Because Millennials value flexibility, you’ve got to take this into consideration when creating volunteer schedules. A volunteer role that requires participation every single week probably isn’t going to work for them.
You don’t need to unnecessarily deal with last minute cancellations and create a culture of chaos, but a system that allows for flexibility will allow you to engage volunteers who are busy.
Consider a rotation system. Pair younger leaders with more experienced volunteers. Use a tool like Planning Center Online so volunteers can tell you their availability in advance.
#4 – Communicate on their terms.
Large group training meetings on Sunday nights and email updates to the distribution lists are convenient for leaders.
But it’s likely that neither of those will work well when communicating with Millennials.
Millennials don’t remember a time before mobile phones. They were the first generation that grew up in a fully digital world.
What does that mean for you? It means you’ll need to send more one-on-one text messages and fewer mass emails. It means a social media app is a more effective tool than your streamlined church database. It means you need a relational coaching system where personal communication and coaching is more natural.
Yep, that’s far messier and more confusing for you. But in the end, it’s more effective.