How Millennial Members Atrophy the Church

on 08302013

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It is undeniable that our churches are in crises. Yes, multiple. I realize there are great things happening in many different churches around the world, to which they are an exception to my general claims here, and I do praise God for them. I hope to not discount what God is doing through those things, but for those that can relate to the following, it is time we address a serious concern within a lot of our churches and start dealing with it immediately.

The average age of the church I attend is in the mid-twenties. I love that about my church. Young, independent, and full of energy and potential. And there are a lot of powerful churches out there with a number close to that as well. Millennials. Churches with solid teaching, awesome “community” (whatever that is), and filled with millennials. So it’s those millennials in those churches whom I address.

This particular issue stems undoubtedly from our culture, but we can’t blame culture for the root. Although I could go on about the continual handouts the millennial generation has received, which has created a lack of motivation and discipline to work hard even when we don’t want to, that our former generations exemplified and fought through, the millennial culture, nor their parents are to blame. Unfortunately when it comes down to it, we are all without excuse – this is rooted internally, regardless of age or decade.

Our millennial church members are lazy.

I make that claim, knowing I’ll take some heat for it, but it’s true. More often than not, singles, couples, families come to church to “be fed”. (Side note for a later date…what does that even mean – be fed? Like, be fed spiritual food? So you come to church to be fed spiritual food? Can you or do you not feed yourself spiritual food during the week? You must be STARVING!…I digress) Most members show up to church, engage with the music, are ushered to the throne of His grace, are “fed” spiritual food by dynamic leaders and teachers, are challenged to apply the teachings, and then they leave church. The only efforts made by most members are to take a shower, put on “church friendly attire”, and shake hands with the greeters at the door. But outside of the actual paid staff members, who else runs the programs in the church – both intrinsically and extrinsically? It’s the volunteers. And although each church has those faithful volunteers, I vouch that those faithful few are not enough. Here’s why…

While documenting extensive research,
The Other 80 Percent claims that a mere 20% of church members
are doing 80% of the work,
while the rest sit back and do nothing.


I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to get a swift kick in the pants! That is a startling figure and completely unacceptable. God has called us to give our lives away. To be humble servants. To love, and live sacrificially. I admit, in the past I definitely have not been the first to raise my hand to volunteer either, and that’s where this conviction arises – it’s personal.

If the statistics are true, and 20% of our churches work hard behind the scenes, what are the rest of us doing? What are we doing with our time that is so valuable we cannot engage, support, and serve our churches? We really are without excuse.

If church members don’t step up and serve in some capacity, it can paralyze church health. Notice I didn’t say growth. Attendance numbers are not nearly as important as the spiritual pulse of the Body. The bible is clear that we ought to give generously and sacrificially of our time, talents, and treasures, and that’s a major indicator of spiritual growth and health. But if the belly of your church members, whatever age they are, make excuses for not getting involved, the full potential of spiritual growth and the process of maturation will be greatly hindered.

If church members don’t step up and serve in some capacity,
it can paralyze church health.

So with all of this said, what do we do? Us millennials (and others) who really do care and really do have the desire to serve but are not currently serving, where do we start? Start here:

1. Be mindful of capacity. Not everyone is in a season where they have much (if anything) to offer. There are some of you “members” out there, who are in a really dry place and do not have capacity to do much other than attend church. Be okay with resting in that season, and letting the church come alongside and support you. Spiritual vitality can also come with saying no to service, and saying yes to rest. You be the judge.

2. Be the change. If you’ve felt a gentle prodding, knowing it is you that needs to move, and if your church is struggling with volunteers and participants, get off the pew and serve! My church claims, it’s not what you do that’s important, it’s who you do it with. So true. Remember, it’s the small things that count, too. Grab your friends, and do work.

3. What’s working? Seek out other churches where church members are continually serving and church health is thriving. Find out what programs they run and how they “market” serving.

4. Implement your own ideas. Just because one church runs serving one way, doesn’t mean it will work for your church. Find out what engages the culture at your church, and start there.

5. A leadership plug helps. Although service action should occur regardless if the teaching team mentions it, it definitely helps if the church leadership shepherds the flock. If you’re a pastor, give grace, but don’t forget to bring truth!

6. Remember health, not growth. The issue is not how many teams, programs, groups, and projects you have running at one time. The issue is implementing ways your church can support its members to grow spiritually in the area of service.

My point is not to attack, it is to challenge. If you’re not currently serving, why not? What is it that keeps you stuck as a consumer in the church rather than a missional servant? What are your gifts? Passions? Talents? How can you leverage those to serve? If your church has thriving servants, what makes them successful?


Alongside you,




This article has been republished from SelfTalktheGospel.com, with permission.

Photo Credit from Flickr