5 Ways to Attract Young People to Church

If a church is more interested in protecting traditions than it is in creating a future, then it will most likely fail to attract young people…

At least that’s been my experience.

If a church is interested in attracting young people, then it must think strategically about doing so…

After all, they are the future…

Here are 5 ways a church can attract young people:

Value their ideas - Young people will want to do some things differently. Give them a voice and access to authority.

Give them a place to serve – Find ways that let young people assist others. It’s a huge value for them.

Be genuine with them – Young people can spot the phonies. Let them see that you are real.

Love them - Young people want to sense they are loved….even when they mess up.

Guide them – Young people want direction and they want to learn from your experience. (Just share it in the context with the other 4 points.)

What would you add to my list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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41 thoughts on “5 Ways to Attract Young People to Church

  1. The problem is that Christians don't really know what Church is anymore. Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that it's a "place" you go; rather Church is the Body of Christ (a "Who.") Children get pushed aside into Children's Church or other programs, but the NT Church was a Body of believers–regardless of age. Our children need to understand that being a Church is about being in a daily relationship not only with Jesus but also with fellow believers. I think we've missed that in our culture. http://www.calhounbelievers.com

  2. I agree with a poster above to some degree about not lumping all young people together. There are only a few other people around my age, and it seems like there is an expectation for us to band together or something. Just because someone is younger doesn't mean they only want to relate to people their age. In relation to the young couple at my Church I find that there are just other people in the congregation I connect with more on an interests and communicative level that are totally not even in the same age group as me. I think it may (at least in my case) be a matter of finding common ground with other members as in interests etc. Age can be a matter of common ground, but I think at the core most of us would define our essence and who we are more to do with inner attributes. Age can be a starting place, but it may not be a place of depth or where we find meaningful connection at.

    • You are right. It's impossible to put everyone into one category. Sociologist continue to categorize generations, and it helps us understand them, but everyone is unique

  3. I'm sorry you had this experience. We've advertised for exchange students several times in our church. Maybe you've been trying the wrong church.

  4. I can't speak for other people. But church has nothing to offer me. What would I want a church to be? I would want a supportive community where I can have friends and where I could contribute the things that I can and where people would care about me.

    But instead, all I have found at churches is a bunch of narrow minded, judgmental, self righteous, uptight, people who are turned inward toward their little community. They don't have open hearts or open minds.

    Here is an example, I was trying to find host families for only two weeks for a few exchange students. I contacted local churches to see if any members would be willing to host a student for two weeks (from a country that has few christians so it is an opportunity to introduce children to christianity) and the churches did not just refuse to have anything to do with hosting, the churches refused to even post information or put the word out so that their members could decide whether they wanted to host or not. They just said that their members were too busy with their own lives to be put out by having a guest in their home. Well, how giving and charitable of them. How dedicated to spreading the word of God.

    Christianity is no longer a warm and caring religion with the spirit to bring in new converts. Modern American christians seem to be mostly cold and nasty hearted, selfish people who only think about themselves and their small group. Ugly, ugly, ugly. It was a big reminder to me of why I don't go to church.

    Why would I want to go to church? I can pray on my own. Why would I want to go to services and be surrounded by mean, stuck up people? Of course, they think they are wonderful people if they do say so themselves. That is part of their belief system–that they are so wonderful and kind and righteous. But they aren't. Their actions speak for themselves. If they were any of the things they think they are, then young people wouldn't be leaving church in droves.

    In ten years, most of the current white hairs will be in their graves, and who will be in the pews? My guess is many churches are going to be empty. It is easy to see why people aren't going to church. I fail to see why anyone would bother.

  5. These are all great thoughts Ron. I think you demonstrate the well in your leadership. I appreciate that.

    I think I would just add in some plus 1's for a couple of the ones that you shared. Value ideas and a place to serve is huge. I remember in high school being able to be apart of the worship team. that was a huge opportunity for me to serve as well as be creative with ideas. I got to help plan service, pick out music and take a bigger role in serving.

    And then to maybe add to the other ones would be the share. Meaning, share life experience from the past, share opportunities that you are getting today (whatever your job may be or serving things you do invite them along) share life advice.

    Thanks for writing this. Very important topic

  6. I think the key point is being genuine, but I would add to it this way: be *proactively, uncommonly* genuine in such a way that the minister can firmly guard against hypocrisy, and be honest and transparent at every opportunity. It's not exactly about young people "being able to spot the phonies." It's about young people wanting to know they can follow someone's *true* example with conviction. That means modeling Jesus as best you can, while also sharing your true self.

    To use a metaphor: so many Americans outsource their whole identities to groups and organizations, churches included. As young people are just now trying to figure out where to find their identities, what they do *not* want is for you to refer them to the campaign sign in your front yard. What they want is for you to invite them lovingly into your home to get to know you.

  7. Patience! The Church I'm in now is not real big in having the Youth working in anything going on, they want them involved, but they just don't seem to understand that these guys need someone to not only teach, but to allow them to make mistakes and grow from them!

  8. I think the idea of generational unity is something that is not addressed far enough. Its not all on the "old" people to accept the young people, but as one of those young people it is important that we also understand the importance of those who have gone before us.

    Lets me somewhere in the middle in unity, a generation unity.

  9. Foster a Titus 2:1-6 kind of lifestyle for young people. Teach them to value older, godly Christians. For younger women, this means receiving instruction from more mature women, and for younger men, this means learning self-control from more mature men in the congregation.

  10. Please do not take them for granted. Make them feel that they are part of the system and are adding value to it.

    Rebuke them and correct them when they deviate. Encourage and motivate them when they are innovative and give them the credit for their achievement. Mentor them and insipre them — they will emulate great ones like you later.

  11. Don't continuously tell single people they need to get married, Don't tell newlyweds to start families.
    Single people are single for a reason by choice or circumstance and they do not need to come to church every week to reminded how lonely they are. Also Don't look at single people as not being a whole person, instead value them they they are able to give more time in volunteer hours and service, but when you use them don't abuse them and make sure you include them in outtings and trips to resturants.

    Newlyweds may be trying to have a child but have not been successful do not need to come to church an made to feel they are incomplete or worthless because they do not have children. Some couples are never able to have children as in the case with my wife and I, However we are often looked upon as less adequate to do something despite our achievements in church, the work force and life.

  12. Be intentional, which I'm sure is implied. But to intentionally go to the youth not just the "oh no we made eye contact so I guess I should talk to them" moment. Intentionality is key for youth feeling like the belong in a church.
    -Micah

  13. Don't segregate them. So many churches lump all the young people together all the time – youth groups, youth retreats, youth game nights, youth service events, youth this, youth that – how are they ever to learn to become a part of the body when they're always separated out?

    So many young people come from broken families and are desperately looking for a family environment in which they belong. The church is the perfect place to foster that kind of environment.

  14. Totally agree with you Ron and Jonathan. Great points. The desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves is huge. They don't want to just spectate.

  15. This kinda goes along with giving them a place to serve, but young people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves… Show them how they're making difference and how the church is changing lives. Great thoughts, Ron!
    Twitter: jonathanpearson