America’s largest generation consists of nearly 79 million individuals who were born between 1980 and 2000. They are known as Millennials. So, by age category, I don’t qualify as a Millennial. But when it comes to some of the views of those in their twenties and early thirties in this generation regarding worship and the church, I can count myself as one of them.
Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay, also leads a respected research group and has researched and written about the Millennials. In a recent blog he refers to new conclusions from his research regarding worship style preferences of this younger generation. When asked what worship style they preferred; traditional, contemporary, or some spectrum of blended styles; the answer was somewhat surprising. The overwhelming response was “none of the above.” Style of worship is really not their focus at all. Instead, says Rainer, they are looking for worship and music that have three major elements.
First, they want the music to have rich content. They want to sing songs that have deep biblical and theological truths. That desire is demonstrated by the fact that they are gravitating toward hymns that are being revived or re-styled. As an example, Rainer points out that the hymnody of musicians Keith and Kristyn Getty have taken the Millennials by storm. They are not in a new cycle of the worship wars. They’re not interested in that. They are looking, instead, for depth and richness of content in the songs of worship.
Secondly, these Millennials want authenticity in a worship service. They are not interested in a performance and can sense when both leaders and those in the congregation are just going through the motions. In other words, these young adults are not interested in something “canned” or a production. They want authentic worship.
And lastly, they want quality in a worship service. The quality grows out of the authenticity they expect, along with the preparation of the worship leaders both spiritually and in the planning. Size of the church is not important if the quality is present.
And one further general insight gained is the fact that Millennials, along with a sizable number of seekers in their generation, are moving toward churches where the teaching and preaching is given a high priority and the members are focused on serving the community and the world. They’re not interested in fighting over non-essentials. According to Thom Rainer, “Their focus is on theologically rich music, authenticity, and quality that reflects adequate preparation in time and prayer.
In light of the research and in spite of my age, I know I’m a Millennial. And you?