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How to Engage Millennials with 5 Tips from Millennials

By Charlotte Woodward

Let’s talk about the M word – Millennials.

Hello everyone! My name is Charlotte Woodward and not only am I the Marketing Manager here at Vision2, but I am also a 27 year old Millennial. (gasp!)

Don’t be fooled – Millennials really aren’t that scary. We’re just tech-savy, goal oriented, career motivated kids who love a good farmer’s market. But that’s not all there is. As it turns out, Millennials are a caring bunch that support charities more than any other generation. And I am here to tell you our Top 5 Tips to help get their attention. So get your PSL ready because we’re diving in! (PSL = pumpkin spice latte. We are only 2 days away from fall, after all).

First, let’s start with some stats (Millennials loooove stats):

  • Millennials are in the age range of 22-37, as of 2018.*
  • They are our largest generation to date! Pretty crazy when you think about it…*
  • By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce – yep you read that right.*
  • They are definitely on their phones. They send on average 20 texts per day.*
  • This is a generation that cares about charity, seeing as 81% reported donating their money, goods, or services on a regular basis.*
  • Finally, and this is great news! Out of all the causes that Millennials support, places of worship are their second most supported cause.*

Now, onto our Top 5 Tips.

Tip #1: When it comes to giving, start by asking for something other than money.

So what do you ask them for? Start by asking them for their time to volunteer, or a canned good for a food drive – or even for them to post on social media about a great experience they had at your church!

“Millennials don’t have a lot of money to give, but more of them give more goods and time than any other generation.”

-‘Why Millennials Are More Charitable than the Rest of You’ from thestreet.com

So take them up on it! Start by asking for their time or a specific item.

Next, you want to get them used to giving something other than money on a monthly basis. This gets them used to a monthly giving pattern, and once they have the extra money, they will already be in the rhythm to give on a recurring basis. According to an article on classy.com, Millennials are actually a generation already primed for monthly giving. In fact, 52% of them reported being interested in monthly giving. Turns out, they like the routine-ness and don’t often have the means to make a one-time larger gift, so they can more easily get behind a recurring gift that may be smaller in size. So, get them used to a monthly giving pattern so that once they do have the financial means to make a gift, they know exactly what to do.

Tip #2: Appreciate Millennials like your Elders… because one day they will be!

Current older givers will be replaced one day by Millennials. So you need to engage with them now because they will be the next in line to lead your church in the coming years. Every giver starts somewhere, and believe it or not your elders were 27 at one point too! Allow your Millennial givers to begin their giving journey with whatever they can give, and nurture them along until they can afford to tithe. Remember, any amount is significant. Millennials may not have a lot of money to give – which is why any time DO give, you should make your appreciation known.

Celebrate gifts of all sizes. Do something more than just send an generic acknowledgment (which you should do for every.single.gift). You can use targeted acknowledgments to put emphasis on the source they gave from (your giving solution should be able to tell you where each person’s gift came from – if it doesn’t, click here!). You can create a specific personalized acknowledgment for anyone who gives from their mobile phone. In that acknowledgment, encourage them to take a second action that they can access via mobile, like signing up for an upcoming event online, or following your Church on social media! Or you can focus on the amount given. Any amount matters and making sure your appreciation is heard matters even more.

Tip #3: Mobile interaction is essential.

Ok, interacting with your church online should be a no-brainer. After all, it is 2018 – EVERYONE is on their phones. But it’s more than just being online and being mobile responsive. Think about what this audience is DOING in all that time on their phones. You have to make sure you are reaching them when & where they want to engage. So if it’s not inside the 4 walls of your church, go where they are… Which is on their phone.

If Millennials aren’t engaged with you already online, social media is the place to start. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – any social accounts your church has should be utilized with targeted messages. We actually found that 61% of Twitter users are Millennials. And one of the main reasons they have embraced this platform is to learn about current trends. You can use Twitter as a virtual bulletin board for your church to talk about all your upcoming events and get people excited!

Instagram stories can be fun too. You can show people the behind the scenes of what it takes to get ready for Sunday morning, or the ins and outs of a typical week day at your church! They can highlight the fun things you are doing, and also send meaningful messages to your audience. You could even think about hiring an intern who is Millennial age to do some of the posting so they are automatically targeting the Millennial audience.

So use Twitter and Instagram to highlight your church news, THEN you can redirect people back to your church’s mobile app where they can hear the latest sermon, or see what groups are available to join. This is super smart because you are connecting with Millennials where they are (on social), but you are also giving them a direct action to take in your church app. Once they get into the app, the possibilities for them to get involved further are endless.

And finally, use social media to post thoughts for the day, or provide opportunities to pray for specific people, places, or situations. You can still keep it private to individuals but send out a bat signal for a big prayer request, or let people know the progress of your latest Missions Trip! After all, it’s not the post, it’s the conversation that comes from it! So go start some conversations.

Tip #4: Shout impact from the mountain tops!

Millennials want to make a difference. That’s why we’re seeing more and more of them quit their corporate jobs to start their own small businesses, or why they flock to the Farmers Markets instead of commercial all-in-one superstores. Whether Millennials are giving their time, their goods, or their money, they do it because they want to make a difference. So, celebrate the difference they are making!

Again, acknowledgment means appreciation. You can be as creative as you want here! Include the impact made in your acknowledgments. This can be anything from the total dollars donated, how close you are to your goal, how much time was volunteered, how many families are being saved, and/or what difference was made by their time/effort/dollars.

Feel free to get even more personal and use social media to tag specific people who stood out with their passion and let your entire social audience know that THESE people made a difference! Post about it in your app, website, and print it in your bulletin. Call it out in Sunday’s service. Let everyone who helped know the impact they have made. Share the overall results and who made it possible. If you can assign a specific number of lives saved, wells built, families fed, healthcare administered, do it and shout about it!

Tip #5: Think outside the box.

We all know your reputation is worth a thousand visits to your church…. Right? Ok, I’m just kidding, but here’s what I mean:

Someone could attend your church 14 Sundays in a row. They would likely leave feeling inspired by the message delivered, with every intention to come back the next week. But then, the NFL season happens, and their team is playing at 10 am. They figure that they attended the last 14 Sundays, so maybe missing this one won’t be so bad.

Give them a reason NOT to miss. Well-known blogger, Kevin Stone, has a great blog called Executive Pastor Online, and he actually wrote an article on this very topic, titled ‘The Wow Factor’. In this post, he talks about all the excitement that stems from implementing the Wow Factor. How one moment can really become a memory if the person is wow’d. If you apply this to your idea of a growth strategy for your church, what it really comes down to is… you have to try cool stuff!

“The ‘wow factor’ doesn’t just apply to big events. It also applies to our services. We’re always trying to do something incredible that will create the ‘moment’ in the service that inspires people to ‘feel’ something.”       -Kevin Stone, The Wow Factor 

Now you may be thinking “that sounds great, but wow-ing people is expensive”. No worries, because we have brainstormed some low-cost options that you all can try!

  • Bring in outside speakers that get people excited. Promote them coming on-site, mention the service won’t be filmed so people won’t want to miss in person!
    • Offer a Q&A, or meet & greet with the speaker in person afterwards.
  • Host a special monthly service. It could be focused on music, could be held just for women, just for men, just for youth, just for MILLENNIALS, etc. Give people something to look forward to that is just for them.
  • Bring in different groups or teams from your church to talk about how to get involved
    • Use a sermon to talk about the importance of mentorship. You could have willing high school or middle school kids looking for a mentor speak and then allow your Millennials to walk up and ‘sign up’ to be a mentor.
    • Bring in your Missions Team – show a video, do a Q&A, talk about the impact that was made and how to get involved
    • Talk about Volunteering Opportunities within the church like helping with Sunday check-in, youth ministries, and outreach programs
  • Utilize your choir. Have your choir enter with a powerful song – I love a good and powerful choir.

Now you are ready to go get those M words! And remember, M stands for Millennials, not Mysteries!

*Sources: Conscious Company, Visually, danschwabel.com, cnbc.com

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Thompson September 21, 2018

    Reply

    Great article, Charlotte! As a bi-vocational pastor and business manager, the question comes up often to me, “How do we manage these millennials?” Sadly, tired 80’s-90’s management philosophies, started by the Jack Welch’s of life, implemented the Stack & Rank methods still in use today by companies, non-profits and churches large and small. Promote the top, sacrifice others to gain objectives, fire or layoff the bottom, keep the middle in process driven boxes so they are insecure and not sure they will have a job, so that they’ll work harder for less. Can anyone think creatively or operate synergistically in that sort of environment? The question management should have is “How are we going to serve these millennials and enable them to gain the life experience skill sets necessary to be leaders?” Servant leadership should be the heart of every manager and every worker – I AM a leader. In most companies- small and large, the mantra that is cultivated and pandered to is “MAKE ME FEEL GOOD;MEET MY NEED; FEED MY GRED.” Sadly in many churches, the pastors and worship teams “PANDER” to the paying audience to create a “worship” experience, blow smoke in everyone’s face and call it Holy Spirit fire. Managers will throw staff under the bust to keep their nest feathered. Savvy Millennials don’t want to FEEL GOOD, the want to BE GREAT, walking in the unique greatness placed in them. I imagine a world that does not yet exist. I imagine a world where the majority of people, including millennials work inspired, feel safe at and in their work and return home at the end of a reasonable day feeling fulfilled and optimistic for the next day to come. Each of us can change the world for the better. Everything I do is singularly devoted to empowering those in my life to walk into their destiny of greatness. My staff knows that I’ve got their backs, I’m not looking to stab them in it. Millennials share this vision as well. When they see their management committed to everyone’s success, (often a great personal sacrifice), it is easier for them to develop the frustration tolerance they need to stay the course over the boring, “unplugged” times that exist in every job, whether we are working for ourselves or others? People focused companies driven by relationship building out rank and outperform profit margin driven companies all the time. Didn’t the Master Lead by Serving? Finally after failed decades, we’re seeing a shift in the marketplace and economy. We have Savvy Boomers, Wise Gen X and Millennials to thank. Old methods leave Millennials, Gen X, Gen WHY and us Baby Boomers looking toward a bleak future. How often do I hear, “I’m just not making a difference”? There was a song we sang at my church when I was a child, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are”. Leadership doesn’t have to be level 10. Through example we can make sure we’re bringing the light to the dark places It’s like Costco – vs- GE. For the end game, Costco won, even though for nearly two decades they were derided because of flat stock prices and modest profits. But, look at them now – S&P500 +1200% ; GE – +600% to gone, with close to $1Billion in government bailouts. The old Growth; Shareholder, Customer, Employee or in the Church World – Growth; Tither- Tipper; Pastor; Bible hierarchy sounds like a plan right? Smarter companies, leveraging the incredible energy of Millennials have a different model. They invest in and take care of their employees. This should be a given. If the employees are secure, they’ll work smarter synergistically and growth will be organic; not contrived. “Social Media” Campaigns, “Mobile Outreach” or “Tag You’re It”– MUST HAVE CONTENT. Some are addicted to their technology and Millennials, grow up with the constant release of serotonin and dopamine, from constant hits engaged when texting, playing video games, surfing, left many misdiagnosed as ADHD which is up 60% from 10 years ago. True ADHD is a frontal lobe disorder. This large % increase did not happen because Millennials all have frontal lobe disorders! Addiction is real. If anyone finds they are checking their phone before they even speak to someone in the morning or get out of bed. It may be a problem. If you get a text when you’re ten minutes from home, inviting you to supper next Tuesday, and you can’t wait ten minutes to respond, you might have a problem. Multi-tasking is not a millennial gift. It often just feeds the addiction. If there was a magic Multi-Tasking Rainbow over Millennials, then why do they have more distracted driving auto accidents than any other age bracket? But, then Distracted Driving is up across the board for anyone under 50. Management has to lead by example. We must ALL set aside blame. It is not the older generation’s task to entertain, but to SERVE, PROTECT and LEAD. As managers, if we’re on our devices on the way to a meeting and don’t put it down until time for the meeting to start, we may be missing out on an opportunity to truly connect with our Millennial -aged staff. Missed opportunities have to be reclaimed in person. Text is not the same when you ask someone, “How’s your day, or I was sorry to hear about your mom, or?” If we’re with a friend but have our phone on and get a call that we reject, or say , ” I’m not going to answer that”, did a wrong message get sent? Did we tell the person we’re with, I’m screening some calls, but not all, and if its important, I’ll take it, even at your expense? This is not just a millennial problem. Older managers have to lead by example. WE ALL MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT. Mystery SOLVED. This motivates everyone, not just Millennials. We were designed for community and UNITY. Our greatest human need, regardless of age is to belong to and be a part of something bigger than ourselves and to feel like we count and can make a difference to someone.

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