Church, Millennials Don’t Trust You

A recent Barna Group survey observed the following traits among Millennials:

The only piece of information a sizeable majority of Millennials is comfortable sharing with a church is their first name (82%). Only half are willing to give their last names (53%). Just one-third are comfortable sharing their email address (33%). That means two out of three young-adult visitors do not want churches to have that information.

Only one in five Millennials are comfortable handing over their physical address (19%), and even fewer their phone number (12%). A mere 6% are willing to grant access on social media, such as friending on Facebook or following on Twitter or Instagram.

About one in six Millennials would rather not share anything (15%). Among non-Christian young adults, it’s more than one in four (28%).

[See the full article at https://www.barna.com/research/what-millennials-want-when-they-visit-church/#.VdtlqnsmxUN]

Surprisingly, this is among all Millennials, both those who already regularly attend a local church and those who do not. Bottom line: Millennials don’t trust churches.

The survey captures the problem, but leaves two concerns: What is the source of this distrust and what can be done to improve the situation?

 

The Sources of Distrust

The source of broken trust among Millennials is likely from multiple sources. First, American Millennials are less likely to regularly attend church than previous generations (The Barna Group article notes fewer than half of Millennials have attended church in the past six months.). In short, if a person does not know you, he or she is very unlikely to trust you.

Second, the church’s negative publicity continues to increase. From pastoral immorality, to church financial mismanagement, headlines of clergy abuse, and an overall judgmental view of the average church, it’s no wonder younger Americans fear sharing personal information with a new church. It is not only a trust issue, but also a safety issue.

Third, an increasing number of people value their privacy. This is true online and offline. We don’t want every person to know our home address or cell phone number. Spam, home break-ins, identity theft, and other cultural trends have led people to make major changes regarding how willing they are to share personal information.

 

Connecting with Millennials in the Local Church

How, then, can a local church help build trust with younger attendees? First, offer community before asking for a commitment. Many young people have hundreds of friends on social media, but very few real relationships. Further, the dysfunctional American family has given young adults very few role models, mentors, or relational stability. Give friendship first. Once trust has been developed, a person will usually gladly share appropriate contact information on a personal, as-needed basis.

Second, stop expecting new people to complete your visitor forms. Yes, new people want to learn more about your church, but they aren’t ready to be added to a newsletter or have a church leader show up at their door. Also, your guest forms should include a statement that private information is kept private. Of course, you have to keep it private, too!

Third, expect a longer period of time to connect with Millennials. Many Millennials are new to church or have not attended for a long time. Don’t ask them to sign a card or make a major commitment without first offering friendship and time for the new person to build trust. The good news is that once a Millennial decides to get involved, involvement levels tend to be very high. Your longer-term investment could eventually lead to a younger church member who brings a tremendous level of commitment and giftedness to meet the needs of your church and community.

Yes, Millennials have trust issues with churches. However, this can be overcome through a commitment to friendship and earning trust over time. Rather than dismiss the trust issues of the Millennial generation, we can seek to better reach out and improve relationships with those who deeply matter to God and to us (Matthew 22:37-40).

3 Comments

  1. Roberto kadry on August 25, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    First of all I think The Lord Jesus said,” in latter times the love of many will grow cold”
    People now do not want to know about Jesus because they like to live in sin..they will go to all kind of excuses to avoid having a relationship with Him.
    I think the Power of God to save people is the same as it was in eternity past ,so no matter how society changes The Gospel has the power to teach people about the need for the King of kings and Lord of lords.

  2. George AD Byrne on August 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Everyone is looking towards the blessed times to come, people are saying this is the best time to be alive. Troubled times are coming , prepare for the wrath of God to be unleashed upon humanity. I “J or j” bring you the word of Yahweh! On or about the 13 of September the world will experience an economic collapse, three nations will default on loans to the world bank and the result will be a run on all banks in the USA and Europe. Then the world will descend into chaos for 6 months. Flee from the cities, stand in community’s of our God Yahweh’s faithful and care for each other. Those that despise the lord will seek our ruin. Stay in your hiding place for 6 months, but know this is just the beginning of Jacob’s trouble. Do not be deceived this is the beginning of of the time spoken of in sacred scripture. Yahshua is soon to come hallelujah. We are all deceived as it says in the holy scriptures, learn now the extent of that deception. Thus says Yahweh the master of heavens armies; you are a world deceived, the lord of the air, yes the father of lies has installed corruption throughout the world, even into the holy scriptures( the name of the lord has been all but removed from the scriptures just as our savior’s name has been replaced with a name that has no meaning) this is an offense to Yahweh and Yahshua, stop calling on Yahweh with empty titles, and stop calling on his only begotten son by a false and made up name (he who called on the name of the lord will be saved) moreover truth and error have no place together, yet this is the state of things. You justify your actions with circular reasoning. Turn back to Yahweh, keep the sabbith, celebrate God on the seventh day! Matt 5:17 think not that I came to destroy but to fulfill… John 7:16 My doctrine is not mine but he that sent me. Matt 5:27-28 you have herd it said “thou shall not commit adultery” but I say unto you that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart. Luke 12:32 so don’t be afraid little flock. For it gives your father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
    Therefore Repent and turn back to worship our father Yahweh on the seventh day and keep it as a celebration of life love and faith remembering all that our father in Heaven has don and will do to insure humanities ultimate fate as blessed children of Yahweh. Even if the economy collapses we have it within each of us to care for others as we care for ourselves. We don’t need an artificial standard of value to know what is important, in fact the best miracles happened when people forgot the circumstances and chose to take action out of love and help others. Yahweh is love, all evil is is selfishness twisted up and turned in on itself seeing others as enemies instead of ourselves and friends. It’s a shame that a few can twist the rest of us into fear and hate of people who care for others as themselves. Also stop the wholesale murder of the unborn, when the dying of a culture out numbers those that are being born then the whole culture is dying .

  3. Jon on February 22, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Wow. You people are idiots

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