Millennials are leaving the cities and finding “home” in small towns and rural areas. That’s the latest trend reported by recent research. The young adults, born from 1981 to 1996, are no longer finding urban centers and metro areas attractive. Why? They’re looking for community and opportunity.
30,000 Millennials left metro areas in 2018, the fourth consecutive year of decline. But young adults aren’t the only ones trading the concrete jungle for green acres. While 80% of all Americans live in urban areas, there is a move among all U.S. adults toward smaller towns and rural communities, according to Gallup.
University of Minnesota researcher Ben Winchester cites cheaper cost of living and job opportunities as key reasons. He says within a 5-7 county spread, almost anyone can find “the same diversity in a rural region as in a metropolitan area.
“As you age and you gain some stability, you start to question some of the facts of your life.”
That’s where the church comes in. While younger adults are identifying less as Christian compared to their Gen-X and Boomer parents and grandparents, they are more likely to seek places where values can be explored in the context of community.
A church that welcomes discussion of that kind can find interested younger participants. And in places where there aren’t a lot of places to congregate, such as rural communities, the local congregation can become a center of cultural life.
Of course, this means church won’t look like it used to, but then, it never did. Every generation leaves its imprint, if older generations let them “rearrange the furniture” in order to feel at home.