Is Religion Losing the Millennial Generation?

On 4 February 2008 the USA Today asked that very question in an article of the same name by Stephen Prothero. And it got me to thinking about how the Church may or may not be failing at reaching that generation.

Empty PewsI have some friends of mine that fall into the category of the millennial generation and they have told me recently that they are exploring other churches to see what is out there. The churches they are exploring are all Christian churches, but the problem lies with the fact that the church they attended had a ministry that was geared toward them and then it was decided that it was not necessary anymore. So they have felt left out and decided to look and see if they can find somewhere that has something geared towards them. Not that church is supposed to be about me, but there is a certain element in having a place where you can meet with your peers and get that input you need to help you in your walk.

In the article Stephen says….

Even so, I can’t help but think that priests, rabbis, imams and ministers would do well to engage in interfaith dialogue not only with one another but also with this “spiritual but not religious” generation. One of the biggest challenges to any ancient faith is to adapt to modern circumstances and then, as circumstances change, to adapt again. American religious institutions are, as a rule, doing a poor job of listening to and learning from this millennial generation. Far too often, religious services in the USA are of the adults, by the adults and for the adults. And don’t think young people aren’t noticing.

That second to last sentence is one that I think all pastors need to read. “Far too often, religious services in the USA are of the adults, by the adults and for the adults.” I know that there are many churches out there that are doing a good job of this, but there needs to be more. And you don’t have to be a large church to do this. I know of a church not far from me that is teaming up with other churches and providing something for young adults that is reaching them and helping them in their journey. It just takes a little bit of creativity.

So I ask not are we losing them, but what can we do to get them back? Maybe we need to sit down with them and ask them and then be prepared to do something different.

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Kim, father to Hannah & Caleb, and the connections pastor at The River Church. The thoughts expressed here are my own and not The River Church's.

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