GET IN THE HANDS OF THE DROP-OUT MILLENNIALS

 In Blog, Communication

Thanks to a tweet from Church Community Builder (@CCBchurch), I read a great article, “3 Ways to Re-Engage the Millennial Audience,” by Robert Coletti. I encourage you to read the entire article – realistic perspective on an age-old tension between “church” and “production,” and the new modern twist on the struggle to engage and maintain relationship with the 20-something generation.

Young people are leaving the church. Research proves this, and churches know it and feel it every week. Millennials, the current 20-somethings, are the least religiously active age group with an overall 43 percent drop-off in church engagement for the 18-29 age group. Research done by the Barna Group shows that 61 percent of Protestant Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 say that they have dropped out of attending church after going regularly (Kinnaman, 2011).

The Church is competing with an onslaught of secular media for the attention of the millennials. It takes some hefty production to stand up to all that’s reaching out to them. Why can’t God’s people utilize the same talents and technology the world does? We can. The Church is really starting to arrive on the scene – we can see it in the theater with high-quality productions from Cloud Ten Pictures and of course, the production company responsible for the recent theatrical hit, Son of God, LightWorkers Media. Production isn’t only necessary in theater entertainment, however. We’ve got to engage that relevant and high-quality level of production in the way we do church. Church must reach lives beyond the physical building and into the mediums we use on a day-to-day basis.

It’s not enough to just have a website anymore. Millennials might look for church service times and ministry information, but more often than not, they are looking for content. They seek content in blogs, podcasts, images—all with spiritual insight and information, but in particular they are looking for video.

Fifty-four percent of millennial Christians are looking to find spiritual engagement in videos on the Internet.

To see over half of the Christian generation rapidly disengaging from the church and seeking to stay engaged spiritually online, with video, is seeing a “field white for harvest” (John 4:35). They want live video, on-demand content, automatic on-the-go content, podcasts and apps. Is it just the millennials? No, this trend is increasing throughout the church, with the 20-somethings leading the way.

Does your church already have a graphically stunning, easy-to-use, mobile-responsive website? BRAVO! If not, YIKES! Catch up! Are you using VIDEO in ways that will engage the viewer? Are you mindful that non-members and even Christ-seekers (“tire-kickers”) could be looking to your website first as a way to check out your ministry but also to look for spiritual answers and guidance? Of course you’re using and promoting YouVersion! Hopefully you’re at least providing a list of past sermons (we recommend YouTube and Vimeo, but what about fun videos from events, vlogs (video blog), or even your announcements? Even sharing videos from other churches or ministries is a great idea.Tim Hawkins, anyone?

So, great…we’re all up in the website. It looks great, we have great content and resources there… Now how do we really make this a part of our church family’s life? It’s about more than just making your site mobile-responsive (fancy way of saying  that it’s able to automatically know that someone is viewing from a teeny tiny screen and – SHAZAAM – it looks better and is easy to navigate on that tiny screen). Now we’re talking about your digital church becoming relevant in daily life. Life application, if you will, of your ministry. So, getting your ministry as highly accessible as possible is the key. Enter: the smart phone. Yes, this is what we do, but consider the validity of the idea aside from what you might perceive as a sales pitch.  You work so hard through the week to present God’s word, encouragement, music that feeds the soul, and to build community among your members… why not harness all that and get it into their pockets and purses? Whether with us at Aware3 or elsewhere, you absolutely should be looking into getting your ministry literally in the hands of your members and visitors in 2014. As Robert says in his article,

The use of online video, audience engagement tools and social media makes for a more engaged, always-connected church, with a digital experience that complements the local church experience. In your church, create meaningful connections with seekers and followers by following the digital trend. Creating video content and sharing it with them through connected televisions, mobile devices, computers and any other trending device is the new frontier in missions.

I understand a blog is coming from Robert at Church Tech Today that will explore the “mobile app” for churches in more depth. We’ll be looking for it!