"I'm discouraged," says the 28 year old single woman, answering my inquiry about her attempt to become involved in church. "Discouraged? How so," I asked. We had been discussing her return to the church for the past few weeks. Myra works for a company that I serve as chaplain. She had grown up Catholic but had not gone regularly to church in several years. She began to feel a need to start going to church regularly and a friend recently had invited her to a non-denominational church which she said she really enjoyed. This was a contemporary church that seemed to focus on living your faith in the real world.
Myra had told me a few weeks ago that she had made up her mind to give this church a shot and started going weekly. Myra even signed up to be in a small group and she also signed up to help out in the children's ministry and to sing on their praise team. She was really excited about this opportunity and the impact it would have on her life. Yet on this day Myra explained that she was discouraged because a month had passed and she had not heard anything from the church. She said she wasn't going to let this affect her faith but admitted she was discouraged so much that she just didn't go to church this past Sunday.
Hearing this broke my heart. This is an epic failure for a church. The church Myra is attempting to become involved in is a multi-site of a large church that I know has systems to help assimilate newcomers. Yet, here is an example of a professional, attractive young single adult who is searching and wanting to become involved in the church, knowing that this step is crucial for her faith and spiritual development. And the church somehow drops the ball at the crucial point in this young woman's life.
I don't know the details of this church's process so I don't know the reason for their inability to follow up with Myra. Maybe their process failed or the person who is in charge of newcomer assimilation didn't do her job. Perhaps it is because Myra is single and the church just does not have much for single adults. Myra said there seemed to be a lot of things for families but she didn't notice anything special for single adults. Whatever the reason, if a church doesn't respond when the iron is hot so to speak, they have a good chance of missing out altogether on the opportunity to help this one person know Christ and change her life. I can't think of another thing a church can do that is more important.
Myra is a typical millennial. She is single like a majority of the millennial generation. I've seen many blogs and heard sermons about the urgent need to reach the millenials if the church is to succeed in the future. Could it be that the reason the church is not reaching them is that they are neglecting the largest group of millennials, the unmarried adult? In a past blog I wrote about what it takes to reach the 20 something generation, not just young families with children which is important, but also the single twenty something adult.
But, unless there are ministries in place that a young single can plug into, and a process that helps him or her connect, a church will just not reach them.
Remember, the millennial generation may be different than the previous in many ways but each one of them is similar to most people in that they:
- Want to be valued
- Want to be challenged
- Want to be used
- Want to be mentored
- Want community
- Want to make a difference
How is your church reaching them and incorporating them into your church? I'd like to hear from you.