Yes, Millennials, You Need the Local Church

4 reasons Millennials should stay plugged in.

If you were asked to picture the regular attendees of an average local church, a few things might come to mind:

You might think of a quaint, middle-class family who bring their 2.5 kids to church every Sunday before heading back to their mundane jobs Monday morning. You might picture a gaggle of teenagers who came just to see their friends or the occasional college student who still goes to church out of habit.

But chances are, you don’t imagine world changers, visionaries or even fired-up young people sitting in those pews every Sunday morning. And maybe you think that if you join those people you just pictured, you’ll become just like your caricature of them: flat and apathetic or unaware of the needs around you.

The local church holds a key place in the life of any Christian—Millennial or not—and its impact, importance and influence should not be dismissed.

Many Millennials fear being “domesticated” by the local church—that being involved will quench any passion for God or put out the flames of faith. For many, it’s not God that is the issue, it’s the Church. The idea of living an adventurous life for God, following where He leads and stepping out in faith is, for many, a juxtaposition of what life in the local church is like.

Yet the local church holds a key place in the life of any Christian—Millennial or not—and its impact, importance and influence should not be dismissed. Here are a few reasons Millennials need to be involved in the local church.

The local church roots Millennials in a community

Millennials are, more than any other generation, prone to not putting down roots. The tendency among Millennials is to drift—to find satisfaction wherever it appears best, and then to move on when the grass gets greener on the other side.

The local church, by its nature, is deeply ingrained in its community. The local church is known by those around it, and in return knows those around it. The ability to know those to whom you are ministering is deeply impactful. It allows for relationships to be built, nurtured and maintained.

Many Millennials are, in fact, looking for this deep level of community, but sadly do not see the local church as providing it. There is a sense of belonging and doing life together that can only be found in the local church. For a generation looking for community, integrity and authentic relationships, it doesn’t get much better than the local church.

The local church provides Millennials with wise people to learn from

The rise of the Millennial generation—and the potential that comes with them—is one of the most exciting and exhilarating factors the worldwide church faces at the moment. The local church offers a safe environment for Millennials to grow, develop fruits and discern their paths—all the while supported and equipped by wiser figures who have been there and done it before.

This element of local church life is one of the most under-exaggerated, and yet has an impact that is almost impossible to quantify. Having older, wiser figures around allows Millennials the space to push themselves, receive counsel and— importantly for this perfectionist generation—fail.

The local church gains as much from Millennials as they pour into it

Millennials want to contribute. They want to change the world and be part of making the world a better place. For many, that passion is a key component behind their motivation to constantly seek new challenges and fresh situations.

Being part of a local church allows Millennials to pour themselves into that which they are passionate about—social justice, education, charitable work, ministry and so on. As a result, almost every time, there is a noticeable effect on the church.

Service in church should certainly not be carried out with an end goal of gaining praise in mind, but at the same time, there is a huge benefit to the wider church body of having a core of Millennials. This younger generation constantly pushes the boundaries, pushes the church forward and often has a vision bigger than many others. This will inevitably lead to times where they bite of more than they can chew, but the positive impact and surge in excitement felt by the wider church is unquestionable.

The local church provides millennials with a safe, secure place at a time of transition

The impact of being part of a local church is transformative.

Those in the Millennial age bracket face a huge time of transition. Finishing school, starting work, finding a partner, starting a family, buying a house—these are only some of the major life events Millennials encounter. At a time of life when there is so much in flux and so much uncertainty, having a local church to call home, surrounded and supported by a community on your side, has invaluable benefits.

You Might Also Like

Those not plugged into and rooted in a local church face the risk of letting church attendance slip when life gets busy—the tendency being that of all the things to give up, church goes first. Millennials at the heart of a local church are much more likely to be supported, convicted and challenged to ensure their faith and relationship with God is at the heart of all they do.

There is no such thing as a perfect local church. But the impact of being part of a local church is transformative. It is tragic to see so many—millennial or not—abandon the local church in search of either a perfect church (of which there are none) or a lifestyle outside of church.

Bill Hybels was right when he said, “The local church is the hope of the world.” That is a truth the Millennial generation must grab hold of and fully embrace. If they do, they and their churches have the potential to change the world.


Nathaniel Marshall


Nathaniel Marshall commented…

A sure sign of a dying church (without God's direct intervention, of course) is a lack of young adults. The older keep getting older, and freshly graduated high schoolers, with few exceptions, leave for college, or because there's no young adults. The old die off, and the preschoolers are now graduated high schoolers. What then? Everyone is gone.

This article was on point. Thanks for writing!

Steve Cornell


Steve Cornell commented…

When you look closely at the pattern that emerges from Scripture regarding how Christ built His Church, I believe you can conclude that it is God’s will for each believer to be meaningfully related, faithful, serving, and accountable to a visible body of believers under the pastoral oversight of elders.

Hannah Keefer


Hannah Keefer commented…

I'm a millennial who grew up in the church and have been taking a break from it for the past 4-5 years. I poured myself into the church all throughout my childhood, adolescence, and early adult years, only to find 1) only out-of-church experiences actually enhanced my spiritual growth, 2) I hadn't found a single person I could truly call a friend or a mentor, and 3) going to church made me more and more depressed every week.

For me, it's not about seeing a false caricature of "the churchgoer." It's about realizing that regular church attendance *made me miserable*, even more so if I was actually trying to connect with God or the people around me in the process.

The time I've taken off from church has been some of the most rewarding and enriching spiritual years of my life, as well as the most community-filled. I haven't given up on church entirely. I'd love to someday find a church community that I found enriching rather than discouraging. It just hasn't happened yet, and in the meantime, it's really hard to find any reason to go on a Sunday morning other than "some Christians say you have to."

David Zirilli


David Zirilli commented…

Millennials need to be the Church, not go to church. Part of being the Church is joining with other believers for relationship and worship and teaching and mission. I agree with the premises of the article that Millennials need to be grounded in a local community for relationship building over time to those who need to see the love of Christ lived out. They also need mentors and a secure place to return to after taking risks in their faith.

The systemic problem of the church is what limits the church's connection to this generation. What God-fearing Christian wants to spend their life energy, passion and resources maintaining a broken system.

Millennials, like other sane people, don't want to spend time filling positions on planning boards, redecorating the church foyer or making photocopies for Children's Church. They want to connect with people who are in need (spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially...) and pour out the love of Christ into their lives.

The typical church structure hinders this. It is much more direct to walk the streets, strike up a conversation with a homeless person and invite him to lunch than to sit in a planning meeting about the next church barbecue.

Church-owned property, church-centric programs, and finance-driven decisions betray the anemic vision of most churches.

We are called to be light and salt, to bring life to those who are dying, to rescue those who stumble, to feed the hungry and preach the Gospel to everyone we meet.

Millennials should not join a church just because there are some good reasons to. They should continue to think outside of the church systems and find new ways to be the Church. They can help the rest of us figure out how to be rooted in communities, facilitate much needed mentoring relationships and maintain a strong faith community.

I was a pastor at a traditional church for 18 years and was unable to break through the systemic problems to get back to the important role of the church to be light and salt. The traditional church model is not the answer and more and more it seems to be a hindrance.

Let's find a way forward together.


Dan Kimball


Dan Kimball commented…

This is a great article! --- In commenting on David's comment above, I know that the organized church can hinder things as you say, but the same thing can happen in house churches too in their own way! I know of many, many churches who thriving with younger people (both house churches and mega-churches and all in-between). So I am not discounting your experience as I know those types of churches do exist, but there are so many examples of millennials becoming part of churches and thriving and growing that would be like the ones you are describing structurally. I have hope!

Please log in or register to comment

Log In