Cross Pointe Worship Team rocks out during a performance. Photo courtesy of Cross Pointe Church

Look around the pews in December and you’ll see faces you didn’t see in July. The holidays present a unique opportunity for congregations to bring in new members seeking a spiritual home, and one demographic churches would love to see more of is young adults.

A 2012 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that a third of adults under age 30 had no religious affiliation, compared with 9 percent of senior citizens. More worrisome for congregations thinking about future membership: Millennials are twice as likely to be unaffiliated as baby boomers were at the same age.

So how to bring them in? Unfortunately, the first impulse church leaders have — add guitars to services and get on social media — is misguided. The thinking is that “if only we had a better Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presence, people will come!” says Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of the new book “Got Religion?: How Churches, Mosques and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back.”

The reality is more complicated, but congregations that get it right can reap the rewards of having young members contributing to community life.

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DISCUSSION: How Churches Can Bring Young People Back  was originally published on

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