Millennials & the Demise of Bank Branches...What It Means for the Church

Millennials, who are the young adults and parents in your ministry, make up the largest share of both the U.S. population (34%) and employed population (26%).

They are increasingly turning to online banking and visiting bank branches less often.  Millennials are shaping the future of banking.

Bank branches have seen a 40% decline since 1991 and are projected to decline by another 25% by 2018. 

In response, banks are cutting back on their branches while spending more on mobile capabilities.  This is directly related to the continued shift to a mobile driven culture.  Mobile banking is growing at a rate of 20%.

These trends have significant implications for not only branch banking, but for brick and mortar businesses and institutions as well...including churches. 

Here are some things to consider...
  • The bank branch may very well come obsolete.  Like any major shift, it will take time, but eventually bank branches as we know them may be a thing of the past.  
  • ATM's may go the way of the phone booth.  As cash and check transactions decline,  ATM's will become nonessential and face the same fate as the physical branch.  
  • The smartphone may become the primary source of banking.  It goes everywhere the user goes, has the ability to collect data and is already being used to make purchases. 
  • More Millennials may shift from attending church at a physical building to attending online.  Church online is a great way to reach and disciple people, but we must keep in mind that it can pull Millennials from physically attending a church building.  
  • Convenience is appealing.  Why drive to a bank branch when you can do the same thing on your phone in 5 minutes or less?  I do not think online church will pull Millennials entirely from attending church physically, but it will affect situations where they are running late, have had a busy week, are tired or have a tight weekend schedule. 
  • Relationships, worship and fellowship happen best in person.  While you can get teaching online - relationships, worship and fellowship happens best gathered in a physical location together.  This is why I believe that while online church may affect physical gatherings to some degree, it will never completely make it obsolete.  People still long for face-to-face connections.  Local churches must be about personal relationships and community.  Churches who do this well will continue to thrive even in a culture that is becoming more and more online driven.
Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What implications do you think the decline of bank branches has for the church?  Share your thoughts and insights with us in the comment section below.