by Aaron Earls
This year, Baby Boomers will no longer be the largest living generation. Generation X never had a chance. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, millennials will outnumber all other generations this year.
Millennials (defined as those between ages 18 to 34 in 2015) are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million Boomers (ages 51 to 69).
As millennials continue to grow due in part to an influx of young immigrants, Baby Boomer numbers will shrink as their generation ages.
Generation X (34 to 50), sandwiched between two larger generations, is expected to peak at 65.8 million in 2018 and eventually outnumber the Boomers in 2028 when there will be 64.6 million Gen Xers and 63.7 million Boomers.
What does this mean for your church?
If your congregation has been designed to appeal to Baby Boomers, as many have, change needs to happen—and quickly.
As a whole, Boomers are whiter, more conservative, and less technologically adept than either Generation X or millennials.
Churches must find a way to effectively communicate the gospel to younger generations who have been suspicious of large institutions and wary of “organized religion.” Leaders must recognize cultural attitudes like millennials being the least likely generation to believe in God.
Understand the reasons millennials may be turned off from your church and work to correct those. Have an online presence. Strive to be more diverse. Look to serve outside your walls. Offer real community.
Part of the needed shift may surprise you. Millennials and other young adults aren’t looking for a show.
“You don’t need the fog and lights to get young people to show up in church,” said Jefferson Bethke, millennial and best-selling author of Jesus>Religion. “I think what they want is real deep, authentic truth. Church leaders need to be authentic and vulnerable.”
Millennials want you to preach Christ. They want you to help them better understand and go deeper into Scripture.
As you think about ways to reach millennials and the generation behind them, keep in mind that older generations are often more open to change than many assume. If they are given a gospel-centered vision for reaching their community, they’ll adapt to new methods and strategies and help lead the way.
Churches should not be caught unaware of generational shifts as they seek to reach all generations with the gospel.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.