PROBLEM: For years the consistent lament from the old folks in the church has been many millennials were leaving Christianity. Now, most surveys during the last years do indicate a steady drop in these 27-42 year olds practicing the faith. The bigger problem for the church now is that this indifference and rejection is spreadingvto older Americans.
First for the younger ones: The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University published a report called Indifference to God, Jesus and the Bible Drives Millennials’ Faith. According to the report, “Among Millennials the label ‘Christian’ is not a statement of commitment to the namesake (Jesus Christ) or to embracing biblical beliefs and principles. Rather, that term has taken on the connotation of being a good person, regardless of religious beliefs.” The study’s author says millennials’ relative disinterest in religious faith “fits the young adult cultural ethos of ‘canceling’ institutions, ideologies and individuals that don’t fit with their personal expectations and perspectives.”
The Barna group reported in a 2019 study titled Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong that more one out of five Millennials have quit the faith, with another three out of ten call themselves Christians but aren’t part of a faith community.
The more disturbing trend is among the next older generations, the Generation Xers. A recent Wall Street Journal article Why Middle-Aged Americans Aren’t Going Back to Church illustrated the problem. “The percentage of people ages 39 to 57 who attended a worship service during the week, either in person or online, fell to 28% in 2023, down from 41% in 2020, according to a survey this year. This was the largest percentage-point drop of all age groups examined in the survey of 2,000 adults conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University.” That’s the same percentage of the more often maligned millennials.
Solutions The Wall Street Journal article cited several reasons for the drop: Folks who got out of the habit during the pandemic, raising children and even those pesky “rigid” behavioral restrictions. The problem with these excuses: A higher percentage of older Americans have returned, that age group has always been raising children and those “rigid rules” haven’t changed for churches following traditional biblical interpretations. So, the answer has to be the church more effectively living out the faith so that those of all ages see the difference Christ makes in Believers’ lives.
Links to cited surveys:
Indifference to God, Jesus and the Bible Drives Millennials’ Faith.
Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong
New Post-Pandemic Research Shows How COVID Rocked America’s Faith
https://www.arizonachristian.edu/2023/06/14/new-post-pandemic-research-shows-how-covid-rocked-americas-faith/#:~:text=At the onset of the,infrequently or not at all.