Editorial Note: From time to time, we find articles in other places that we want to bring to your attention; the ideas expressed may not always be in complete alignment with what we’d typically put forward, but the overall concept, goals, and passion make them relevant to our mission.
This article is a great example; the author is making a difference in the world, and we’d love for you to know what’s on her mind. Reprinted here with the author’s permission. – DCR
Who is in their 20s or 30s, globally aware, technologically advanced, spiritually questioning and not going to church? The Millennial generation! This generation is made up of the movers and shakers of the world today and you probably aren’t sharing a pew with them on Sunday mornings. With the teachings of Unity being as applicable today (if not more so) then when they were written, why aren’t more Millennials walking through our doors? Here are some ideas of how to not only get Millennials in the door, but coming back to your community.
Join the party!
Rather than expecting Millennials to walk in the door on a Sunday morning, meet us where we are! You’ll find Millennials who hold similar values to Unity’s beliefs at places like farmers markets, yoga studios, civil rights demonstrations, and gay pride parades. Set up a booth, provide sacred service support for events, and have goodies with the Unity logo and information on them. That gets your spiritual center visible to a greater number of Millennials who may not drive by your church on a weekly basis.
Sunday mornings are tough.
The likelihood of active Millennials being able to make it to a 10 o’clock service on a Sunday morning are slim. If your spiritual center has the ability to livestream or record services, that gives Millennials the opportunity to get the message on their own time, in their own space. Posting these livestreams or recordings on your Facebook and YouTube page, in addition to your website, give a greater access for Millennials to tap into your community. Considering alternative times to create a Millennial-driven service is also something to think about for your community.
Make it relevant.
Sitting in church and having the older crowd all laugh at jokes and references that are older than Millennials – is not a way to keep them coming back. Turn on your radio, listen to what is happening in the world, talk to Millennials in your life; these are all ways that you can stay relevant to the world of Millennials. Pull on references that call upon our connection as humans, regardless of age. If you use stories or references, have them available as print outs or a link so that they can be utilized in real life. Give a takeaway point or a challenge for the week to emphasize just how applicable Unity is to everyday life.
If you have spent any time around a young person, I’m sure you have seen a text, a tweet or an update happen before your eyes. Millennials are on social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are aspects of how we connect to others and the world. If your spiritual center isn’t on social media, you are limiting your visibility for young people. #MotivationalMonday posts help emphasize your Sunday message. Having Facebook event pages are far more effective for Millennials than remembering something they saw in the bulletin. If you have questions, ask a millennial how to utilize social media. I guarantee they know how.
Sometimes things suck.
Millennials are the most connected generation because of technology, so we know what is happening in the world. Atrocities are happening in the world and there is no outlet for us to say just how much these events impact us. Events in our personal lives feel devastating. Unity should be a place where we can acknowledge all emotions, including the negative ones, instead of relying on the idea that “It is all in Divine Order.” Yes, Divine Order is always at work, but sometimes it is very powerful to remind people that it is okay to not be okay with what is happening in our personal lives and in the world.
Expand your vocabulary.
The Bible, Christianity, God and going to church can be deterring factors for Millennials. For whatever reason, Millennials get uncomfortable with these concepts either for personal or historical reasons. Utilizing more neutral, less historically charged words can change an experience for newcomers and Millennials alike. Sometimes “the Universe” is easier to connect to than “God”; having a spiritual community rather than a church feels less awkward for some. Don’t get stuck in the vocabulary of the past and remember the power words have.It seems that Millennials are connecting with concepts of Eastern religion more than previous generations. Yoga, meditation and other concepts of Eastern faiths are everywhere in conversations between Millennials today. Do yourself and your congregation a favor by stretching your knowledge of other faiths and tying them into your Unity message on a Sunday. Not only does it make Unity part of a global religious conversation, but can bring in new material and expand your congregation’s minds.
Community as a connector.
The sense of community is necessary for spiritual growth for all. Millennials who search for spirituality independently sometimes don’t even realize just how powerful the sense of community can be. Renting your space out to like-minded activities—like yoga classes—expands the community of people walking in your door. Make sure that new Millennials feel welcome, but not suffocated. This is important for them to want to come back! Every Sunday, take the time to give a short explanation of what Unity believes so newcomers understand just what your individual Unity community is about.
YFM (Youth & Family Ministry) is vital.
There is a concept that young people come back to church when they have a significant life shift or they have children. Young Millennials who have kids are looking for a spiritual community where not only they can be nurtured, but their kids can be, too. It is natural for Millennials to take time away from going to church, but having a community to come back to for them, and potentially their children, is important.
You are loved, just as you are.
With an increase in LGBTQ acceptance, it is important that your community is as well. Every person that walks in your doors, old or young, new to the community or established, Millennial or not, is a human being who sometimes needs to be reminded of just how loved and great they really are. Being able to connect on a human level and remind them of that is sometimes the piece that brings people back. Take the time every Sunday to remind your congregation as a whole and individuals of that Truth.
All of our spiritual communities are different, yet united by the common teachings of Unity. Some of these Millennial-attracting concepts may be more successful for your individual ministry than others. Some older congregants may not like certain changes. All of these things are normal and an opportunity to try something new! At the end of the day, Unity will grow and thrive when we embrace how quickly the world is changing and make space for these changes and the Millennials that are changing too.
About the Author
Lily Sandberg was raised as a Unity kid at Unity Spiritual Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico her entire life. She has known she was meant for ministry since age 8 and will be pursuing enrollment in Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute after graduation from the University of New Mexico in December, 2018. Lily holds a vision for a Unity that works for all, regardless of age, and plans on utilizing her age and perspective to promote Unity’s effectiveness. Attracting millennials and supporting our youth is Lily’s primary focus in creating a sustainable future for the Unity movement and a more compassionate world.