Common sense ideas for attracting millennials to your parish

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIAI’m going to save you $5,000. That’s how much 27-year-old consultant Gabrielle Jackson Bosche charges to translate the world of millennials into concepts older people can understand. Most of what she has to say, however, is common sense.

Decoding the millennial generation

Bosche frames her insights for the business world, but it is easy enough to apply her points to institutional religion.

  • Millennials are not goinfig to be workaholics. They’ve seen how their parents try to do too much and burn out from stress and over-commitment. If you invite them into a church community where the staff and volunteers are constantly overworked, millennials are going to look elsewhere to fulfill their spiritual needs.
  • Millennials want to disrupt the status quo. They thrive on change. This is the exact opposite character of most of our parishes. However, disrupting the status quo is very Christ-like. Jesus railed against institutional norms that reinforced the status of a few and ignored the needs of the poor.
  • Millennials interview their potential employers as much as they are interviewed by them. They do the same thing when they come to your church. If you thought of the precatechumenate or new parishioner intake as processes in which the parish itself was being interviewed, how would that change what you do?
  • Millennials are on a mission. They don’t just want to make the world better, they plan on doing it. If your parish isn’t clearly alleviating suffering, healing the environment, and working for justice, then you don’t fit into their plans.
  • Millennials want to be coached. They don’t want to be lectured to. They don’t want to be talked down to. They want to be on a team.
  • Millennials don’t trust institutions. Institutions have let them down. They were children during the government scandals around Bill Clinton’s affair and George Bush’s mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. They lived through the business implosions of Enron and the subprime mortgage debacle that led to the Great Recession. And they, like all of us, grieved over the church’s handling of the pedophile scandal. We have to seriously consider what we are doing as parishes to rebuild and be worthy of their trust.

Two important characteristics

These are considerations we should be making for all generations, not just millennials. The reason that millennials cause us to take these common sense notions more seriously is two-fold. First, the millennial generation (ages 18-35) is the largest in history. Just as the world had to conform to the needs of the previous record holder — the baby boom generation — we will have to come to terms with the 75 million young adults (soon to be 81 million) who live in the United States.

It’s not just that the millennials are populous, however. They are also different because they are used to having a say. Both at the dinner table and in the online world, these young folks have, almost since birth, been able to influence the world(s) they live in.

>>> Click for free download:
“Five things millennials need to hear from us” <<<

You probably don’t need to spend $5,000 to learn how to attract millennials to your parish. You probably won’t need to go to the workshop your diocese is having about it. You probably didn’t even need to read this article. All we really need to do to attract millennials is use a little common sense.

What do you do to attract millennials?

What has your parish done to involve young adults? What are some success stories you can share with us?

(To read more about Gabrielle Jackson Bosche’s insights into millennials, click here and here.)

See also these related articles:
  1. Common sense ideas for attracting millennials to your parish
  2. This little light of mine — how to let it shine
  3. The simple truth about getting more RCIA inquirers
  4. How to feed 5,000 on a Tuesday in Advent
  5. Pope Francis’s message to RCIA teams: Avanti!

Photo credit: Jacob Ufkes | Unspash


  1. Great article with some important considerations in our evangelization! In my experience we need to make sure they are actively invited to the table.

    This isn’t a new problem… In fact, there has been a systematic discounting of youth and young adults in most aspects of parish life for a very long time. The fact that the millennial generation is so large only makes the problem more visible. I’ve seen to many parish initiatives come and go with the same “table of elders” being consulted and making decisions. Young people need to be given an invitation to this table. They want to feel invested in the process. They want to make a difference.

    Dedicated Youth and Young Adult programs are only once piece… those groups and the people they represent need to be integrated into parish ministry and parish life. Why aren’t our newly confirmed youth actively recruited to become Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers? Why aren’t our Young Adults actively recruited to become ministers to the sick or to volunteer for the School Fundraiser? Why do we always refer to them as “the future of the Church.” They ARE the Church! And if we don’t actively engage with them… invite them to the table, their energy and enthusiasm will find other more appreciative outlets.

    It can be difficult at times, especially since people at this age are in a state of transition… transitioning away from the family structure they grew up in to a new family structure of their own making (from the single life, to the married life, to the parental life, or other). But if you practice good outreach techniques, engage with them on their level (through social media and active engagement on newer communications platforms), and then follow through with including them at the table, I think we will see them bringing new life to our parishes.

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