10 Myths for Reaching Younger Demographics

In a landmark study done by the Fuller Youth Institute they determined key factors in reaching young people (15-29) and how to involve them in your church community. This study could apply to your business, non-profit, or organization that wants to grow younger. 

#1 A precise size.

Large church, small church, large organization, or small organization irrelevant for growing younger. 

#2 A trendy location or region.

Urban, rural, suburban, middle-class, lower class, does not matter. 

#3 An exact age.

You can grow younger if you are a new church less than five years old, or one hundred years old. Age does not factor. 

#4 A popular denomination… or lack of denomination.

No one denomination or network has the inside track in reaching young people. Some non-denominational churches and denominational churches were effective in drawing in young people. 

#5 An off-the-chart cool quotient.

Relational warmth is the new cool, not hipness. Pastor doesn’t need skinny jeans and tattoos to reach new generations. 

#6 A big modern building.

Have a building, no building, meet in a school, or a modern structure… not a factor in reaching the next generation. 

#7 A big budget.

You don’t need a lot of money. Investing in the next generation will take some cash; but many churches and organizations are creative in how they use their resources. Relationships are key and they are free.

#8 A contemporary worship service.

You can define “contemporary” how you want. The point… churches with a casual and informal approach; and those with bells, smells, and high liturgy, are can be just as effective for growing younger. 

#9 A watered-down teaching style.

Taking the sting out of the gospel and the call of commitment is not helpful. The next generation want to be challenged and called to something bigger than themselves. Don’t give them Hot Pockets when they crave steak. 

#10 A hyper entertaining ministry program.

The entertainment options for our culture are endless. Don’t try and compete or you will look stupid. Slick is no guarantee of success and younger generations want raw, honest, humble, service oriented, and highly relational ministries. 

I’d suspected these findings and seen them come true when we attempted to plant a church in an urban city. Our church is doing a good job in reaching the demographic people say are impossible to reach (20’s and 30’s) with these principles. We are not anything special and I claim no insider knowledge. I’ve just tried to listen to this generation and pray like crazy God would make it happen. 

You don’t need lasers and smoke to reach the next generation with the good news. Take some of these myths above and talk about them with your leadership team. I bet some stuff will need to change. 

If you are a non-profit, business, or organization looking to engage younger generations, these principles could be applied in a million ways. 

You don’t have to be slick and possess the best facilities and have all the resources. You just need to give this generation a mission and a voice and work that is believed to change the world for the common good. 

And, keep relationships primary or everything will fall apart. 


*Study from “Growing Young” pp. 25-27