To attract young people to your church, you’ve got to be warm. Not cool.

When we analyzed the terms that young adults used to describe the churches or parishes that they chose, we noticed repeated words: welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable and caring. We began to call this the “warmth cluster.”

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Across the board in statistical analyses, this warmth cluster emerged as a stronger variable than any ministry program. Ironically, it is possible that your church might be working against warmth by offering myriad programs. Busyness doesn’t equal warmth.

By suggesting that churches need to grow warmer, we don’t mean adults should be nice to young people. Nice does not cut it. And warmth is more than superficial community. It’s “like family” — as young people told us again and again during our interviews and field visits.

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