Here’s an interesting fact: the oldest group of people in the millennial generation are heading toward their mid-40s. Even those on the younger end of the spectrum are almost 30. As much as Boomers want to think of that generation as kids, that’s simply not true anymore. Millennials are filling in the gaps left by the aging boomer generation – including at church. An August 2022 Barna report shows Millennials (39%) comprise the largest weekly and monthly church attendees. In fact, the report indicates that Boomers (26%) are now third on the list, with Gen X (31%) taking the second spot.
The same thing happened when the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation faded from positions of prominence; Boomers are getting older and less mobile. While it doesn’t fully explain the dramatic drop in Boomer church attendance from 31% pre-pandemic, it is exciting and healthy for the church to see the next generation attending, serving, and giving.
Church Giving Trends
Over the last few years, many organizations have invested time and money in researching non-profit giving, with specific post-pandemic trends emerging. Here are just a few:
- Most church revenue comes from small-medium gifts from individual donors.
- Digital giving is now a standard.
- Recurring giving promotes financial stability within the church.
- Churches that teach about giving grow faster.
Interestingly, most of these trends align well with Millennials as they are more comfortable with digital giving and ongoing payments. But there may be a disconnect when it comes to teaching about giving. Churches should not shy away from talking about biblical giving but understand the audience.
Goal of Faith (Boomers)
In a 2017 Inc. post, entrepreneur and investor John Rampton succinctly summarized the Boomer generation. Some key traits of Boomers include ambition, loyalty, work-centricity, and cynicism. Rampton goes on to say how Boomers are goal-oriented and like having their expertise valued and acknowledged. For Boomers, church attendance, serving others, and giving demonstrated their commitment (loyalty) to following Jesus.
Product of Faith (Millennials)
Rampton provides the same concise summary of Millennials, stating that they are more likely to go where they feel valued. Since loyalty is low on their list, they’re fine jumping from one organization to another – even churches. Millennials like structure, stability, and ongoing training and, yes, prefer feedback. Millennials tend to see church attendance, serving others, and giving as an outcome of their faith and relationship with Jesus, not a goal to achieve.
Churches must continue to lean into biblical stewardship, not back away from it. Culture changes, methods change, but God’s truth never changes. It’s still about discipleship. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave us very clear instructions – “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Boomers measured their discipleship progress by checking attendance, serving, and giving boxes. When Millennials become sold-out disciples of Jesus, their attendance, serving, and giving becomes an outcome of their radical faith. Depending on your age, this may seem subtle, but how the church communicates is essential.
As the church (the people, not the buildings) manages another transition from one generation to the next, it’s imperative to acknowledge and honor the past while keeping an eye on engaging the future. In leadership, we often think about the “why” and let it shape the “how.” Maybe it’s time for your church to think about “who” they are communicating to when talking about giving.short url: