You know the millennials and Gen Zers in your church? These younger generations are the future of your church. While they may not be the largest financially contributing groups yet, they soon will be. Learning how to engage millennials and Gen Z in church giving is not a problem for tomorrow. It’s a necessity today. 

What has worked over the years for boomers and even Gen X won’t cut it. Like the generations before them, millennials and Gen Z are unique. 

You need to learn how to engage them in a way that speaks to them. 

If you want the future prominent givers to your church, millennials and Gen Zers, to generously support your ministry, here are five steps you need to begin taking today.

Understand Where Millennials and Gen Zers are Financially

Both Gen Z and millennials are navigating an economy that continues to challenge their financial stability. 

About two in five Gen Z adults say they’re barely scraping by or completely underwater financially. The burden of student loans is particularly heavy for younger generations, with many graduates facing tens of thousands of dollars in debt right out of college. Additionally, the rise of inflation has driven up the cost of living, making it harder to afford basic necessities like housing and groceries. 

Millennials in particular have shown a significant decrease in giving due to economic pressures. Faced with balancing their financial obligations and future savings, many find themselves unable to maintain previous levels of generosity.

Both Gen Z and millennials are navigating a challenging economic landscape, characterized by debt, high living costs, and uncertain financial futures. These pressures are not only affecting their daily lives but also impacting their capacity to give back. 

But it’s not all bad news. Despite these pressures, the latest donor confidence research shows donors are cautiously optimistic about increasing their giving in 2024.

So how can you navigate these financial challenges and encourage a spirit of generosity? 

Engage Audience in Church Community

Gen Z and Millennials are highly values-driven and seek to be part of an authentic community. So your church needs to create opportunities for engagement.  A genuine connection with the community of your charge will almost always precede financial contribution. Offer life groups, volunteer events, or social gatherings that allow younger congregants to feel like a part of the church in tangible ways. 

While giving will be a natural byproduct of greater engagement, it’s important to not let that be the goal. Millennials and Gen Zers are constantly being sold to online and on social media. They can smell a gimmick a mile away. Be intentional about creating opportunities to build community and grow spiritually.

As you plan events, don’t overlook childcare. Many millennials and a growing number of Gen Zers have families with young children. By providing reliable and safe childcare, you’re not only removing an obstacle that could keep them from showing up, but you’re showing that you understand what they need and are creating a space that is helping them and their children grow. 

When you prioritize relationships and involvement opportunities in your church, you can build meaningful relationships with your young congregants. 

  • Create opportunities for connection: Encourage involvement in small groups, service projects, and social events that allow millennials and Gen Z to connect with others who share their values.
  • Leverage social media: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share updates, celebrate milestones, and create a sense of community among your younger members.

 

Communicate About Church Giving

In the past, donors would give to an organization out of loyalty. But now, they are most likely to give to a cause they believe in. In fact, four in five young adults research an organization first before donating. Young people value authenticity – actions speak louder than words. They prioritize transparency and impact and want to know how their contributions are actually making a difference. 

This shift highlights the importance of churches clearly communicating their vision and showcasing their community impact. Your website and other church communications should share compelling stories about the lives you’ve changed and the progress of your ministries. 

Regular updates on the progress of ministries or projects can also make a big difference. Share the number of people reached, the extent of change effected, and any notable milestones achieved. These updates not only inform but also inspire continued support and engagement.

When communicating with young audiences, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. A holistic communication plan that includes email, text messages, social media, and even direct mail is most effective in reaching out to young congregants. And remember to be personal. These generations favor authenticity over fluff and jargon. 

While giving doesn’t need to be the central focus of all of your communication, it’s important to make sure they know the opportunity is there. It may seem surprising, but 88% of millennials respond to direct mail. The key is to integrate this traditional method with digital elements For instance, include QR codes in your letters that link directly to a landing page or your online giving platform. This bridges the gap between physical and digital, making it easier for recipients to sign up for an event, view your content, or give. 

  • Communicate the impact: Share stories and updates about how donations are making a difference in your church and community, reinforcing the importance of giving.
  • Personalize your approach: Make an effort to understand the passions and interests of your younger members, and tailor your communication to resonate with them.

 

Provide Stewardship and Financial Resources

Churches play a crucial role in shaping the financial perspectives and practices of their members, especially among the younger generations. This includes teaching biblical stewardship and generosity, as well as offering practical guidance on financial management.

Recent research from Barna shows young adults are growing in their identity as givers and are eager to be more generous, despite their views on the current economy. This is a significant opportunity for churches to nurture this willingness into regular and purposeful giving.

However, the research also highlights that pastors and religious leaders are seldom identified as sources of financial education. Too often, pastors seem tone-deaf to the financial realities these generations face. They talk about giving, but ignore the financial situations that young adults are trying to manage. There is an untapped potential for the church to become a more active participant in financial education. 

By stepping into this gap, you can help congregants, especially younger ones, make informed decisions about their finances from a faith-based perspective. If you acknowledge their difficulties and help them navigate these issues, they will trust you with their money. 

  • Teach stewardship: Regularly incorporate teachings on tithing, generosity, and responsible money management into your sermons, small group discussions, and Bible studies. 
  • Provide financial resources: Host financial workshops or classes on topics such as budgeting, saving, investing, and giving. Programs like David Ramsey’s Financial Peace University are designed for churches to teach their congregation to get out of debt, save money, and be generous. 

 

Leverage Digital Solutions

If you want young adults to give to your church, it’s essential to embrace digital solutions that fit seamlessly into their daily lives. Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and they expect the same ease and convenience when it comes to making donations.

Over 71% of millennials and a staggering 89% of Gen Z are gravitating towards online giving. And more and more of those transactions are happening from their phones. It’s clear that digital platforms are where these generations feel most comfortable donating.

To meet them where they are, it’s important to offer options like mobile apps, online giving, and text-to-give. And on Sunday’s it’s important to offer ways tap-to-give in person with Apple Pay or Google Pay.

But it’s not just about availability. These digital platforms need to offer a secure, engaging user experience. The platforms should be intuitive, easy to navigate, and user-friendly, ensuring that even your older donors can contribute without any hassle. 

Plus, security is paramount—with cybercrime on the rise, users need to feel confident that their data is protected and their donations will be processed efficiently.

  • Offer multiple digital giving options: Incorporate a variety of giving methods, such as mobile apps, text-to-give, and tap-to-pay to cater to diverse preferences.
  • Be sure your data is secure: Keep your church’s data safe with guardrails to protect the integrity of your ministry. 

 

 

Engaging millennials and Gen Z in church giving is crucial for the long-term sustainability and growth of your church. By understanding their unique preferences and incorporating digital solutions, you can create a more inclusive and accessible giving experience that resonates with these younger generations. 

With the right approach and tools, your church can foster a culture of generosity that transcends generational divides and unites your congregation in a shared mission.