Mormon Life Hacker Millennial

59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why (via FAITHIT)

Only 4 percent of the Millennial Generation are Bible-Based Believers. This means that 96 percent of Millennials likely don’t live out the teachings of the Bible, value the morals of Christianity and probably won’t be found in a church. This author goes deep to explain why.
Total
513
Shares

Follow us: @mormonlifehacker on Patreon | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

 

At MLH, we believe the way the Church evolves culturally is important, and addressing topics that are relevant to the rising generation and helping Millennials realize they have a voice is of utmost importance. Found within the Millennials are the Church leaders of tomorrow, and how we, as a Church, address the issues that are important to them is a key to helping them see the importance of the Gospel in their lives.

WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON THIS ARTICLE? Please comment below.

The full article can be found HERE!

About the Author: Sam Eaton is a writer, speaker, and in-progress author who’s in love with all things Jesus, laughter, adventure, hilarious dance parties and vulnerability. Sam is also the founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries, a mental health and suicide-prevention ministry sprinting towards a world with zero deaths from suicide. Come hang out with him at RecklesslyAlive.com.

 

From the depths of my heart, I want to love church.

I want to be head-over-heals for church like the unshakable Ned Flanders.

200_s

I want to send global, sky-writing airplanes telling the life-change that happens beneath a steeple. I want to install a police microphone on top of my car and cruise the streets screaming to the masses about the magical Utopian community of believers waiting for them just down the street.

I desperately want to feel this way about church, but I don’t. Not even a little bit. In fact, like much of my generation, I feel the complete opposite.

Turns out I identify more with Maria from The Sound of Music staring out the abbey window, longing to be free.

It seems all-too-often our churches are actually causing more damage than good, and the statistics are showing a staggering number of millennials have taken note.

According to this study (and many others like it) church attendance and impressions of the church are the lowest in recent history, and most drastic among millennials described as 22- to 35-year-olds.

  • Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
  • 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
  • 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
  • Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).

As I sat in our large church’s annual meeting last month, I looked around for anyone in my age bracket. It was a little like a Titanic search party…

IS ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

Tuning in and out of the 90-minute state-of-the-church address, I kept wondering to myself, where are my people? And then the scarier question, why I am still here?

A deep-seated dissatisfaction has been growing in me and, despite my greatest attempts to whack-a-mole it back down, no matter what I do it continues to rise out of my wirey frame.

[To follow my publicly-chronicled church struggles, check out my other posts The How Can I Help Project and 50 Ways to Serve the Least of These.]

Despite the steep drop-off in millennials, most churches seem to be continuing on with business as usual. Sure, maybe they add a food truck here or a bowling night there, but no one seems to be reacting with any level of concern that matches these STAGGERING statistics.

Where is the task-force searching for the lost generation? Where is the introspective reflection necessary when 1/3 of a generation is ANTI-CHURCH?

The truth is no one has asked me why millennials don’t like church. Luckily, as a public school teacher, I am highly skilled at answering questions before they’re asked. It’s a gift really.

So, at the risk of being excommunicated, here is the metaphorical nailing of my own 12 theses to the wooden door of the American, Millennial-less Church.

1. Nobody’s Listening to Us

Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input we get the message loud and clear: Nobody cares what we think. Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?

Solution:

  • Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
  • Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
  • Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.

2. We’re Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements

Sweet Moses people, give it a rest.

Of course as an organization it’s important to be moving in the same direction, but that should easier for Christians than anyone because we already have a leader to follow. Jesus was insanely clear about our purpose on earth:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30–31)

“Love God. Love Others.” Task completed.

Why does every church need its own mission statement anyway? Aren’t we all one body of Christ, serving one God? What would happen if the entire American Church came together in our commonalities and used the same, concise mission statement?

Solution:

  • Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, it’s overly-religious and much too complicated.
  • We’re not impressed with the hours you brag about spending behind closed doors wrestling with Christianese words on a paper. We’re impressed with actions and service.

3. Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority

My heart is broken for how radically self-centered and utterly American our institution has become.

Let’s clock the number of hours the average church attender spends in “church-type” activities. Bible studies, meetings, groups, social functions, book clubs, planning meetings, talking about building community, discussing a new mission statement…

Now let’s clock the number of hours spent serving the least of these. Oooooo, awkward.

If the numbers are not equal please check your Bible for better comprehension (or revisit the universal church mission statement stated above).

“If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is in us at all.” –Radical, David Platt

Solutions:

  • Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
  • Survey your members asking them what injustice or cause God has placed on their hearts. Then connect people who share similar passions. Create space for them to meet and brainstorm and then sit back and watch what God brings to life.
  • Create group serve dates once a month where anyone can show up and make a difference (and, oh yeah, they’ll also meet new people).

4. We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture

From Elvis’ hips to rap music, from Footloose to “twerking,” every older generation comes to the same conclusion: The world is going to pot faster than the state of Colorado. We’re aware of the down-falls of the culture—believe it or not we are actually living in it too.

Perhaps it’s easier to focus on how terrible the world is out there than actually address the mess within.

Solution:

  • Put the end times rhetoric to rest and focus on real solutions and real impact in our immediate community.
  • Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture. (If this teaching isn’t happening in your life, check out the book Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel)

5.  The “You Can’t Sit With Us” Affect

There is this life-changing movie all humans must see, regardless of gender. The film is of course the 2004 classic Mean Girls.

In the film, the most popular girl in school forgets to wear pink on a Wednesday (a cardinal sin), to which Gretchen Weiners screams, “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”

Today, my mom said to me, “Church has always felt exclusive and ‘cliquey,’ like high school.” With sadness in her voice she continued, “and I’ve never been good at that game so I stopped playing.”

The truth is, I share her experience. As do thousands of others.

Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, we tell outsiders they’re better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are.

Solutions:

  • Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service.
  • Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
  • Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.

6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources

Over and over we’ve been told to “tithe” and give 10 percent of our incomes to the church, but where does that money actually go? Millennials, more than any other generation, don’t trust institutions, for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be.



We want pain-staking transparency. We want to see on the church homepage a document where we can track every dollar.

Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go toward a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isn’t being utilized to serve the community, or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?

Solution:

  • Go out of your way to make all financial records readily accessible. Earn our trust so we can give with confidence.
  • Create an environment of frugality.
  • Move to zero-based budgeting where departments aren’t allocated certain dollar amounts but are asked to justify each purchase.
  • Challenge church staff to think about the opportunity cost. Could these dollars be used to better serve the kingdom?

7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At

Preaching just doesn’t reach our generation like our parents and grandparents. See: millennial church attendance. We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our fingertips.

For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history.

Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes.

We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?

Solutions:

  • Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
  • Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.

8. We Want to Feel Valued

Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve. You’re single, what else do you have to do? In fact, we’re tapped incessantly to help out. And, at its worst extreme, spiritually manipulated with the cringe-worthy words “you’re letting your church down.”

Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we aren’t good enough.

We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.

We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams.

Solutions:

  • Return to point #1: listening.
  • Go out of your way to thank the people who are giving so much of their life to the church.

9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)

Read the full article HERE!

10. The Public Perception

Read the full article HERE!

11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless You’re Actually Going to Do Something)

Read the full article HERE!

12. You’re Failing to Adapt

Here’s the bottom line, church—you aren’t reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame; we need to accept reality and intentionally move toward this generation that is terrifyingly anti-church.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” —Bill Clinton
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzo Okakaura
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” – H.G. Wells

Solution:

  • Look at the data and take a risk for goodness sake. We can’t keep trying the same things and just wish that millennials magically wander through the door.
  • Admit that you’re out of your element with this generation and talk to the millennials you already have before they ask themselves, what I am still doing here.

You see, church leaders, our generation just isn’t interested in playing church anymore, and there are real, possible solutions to filling our congregations with young adults. It’s obvious you’re not understanding the gravity of the problem at hand and aren’t nearly as alarmed as you should be about the crossroads we’re at.

You’re complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction. A smattering of mostly older people, doing mostly the same things they’ve always done, isn’t going to turn to the tide.

Feel free to write to me off as just another angry, selfy-addicted millennial. Believe me, at this point I’m beyond used to being abandoned and ignored.

The truth is, church, it’s your move.

Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the meantime, we’ll be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isn’t as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.

Please read the full article HERE!

 

WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON THIS ARTICLE? Please comment below.

 

Like Mormon Life Hacker on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MormonLifeHacker

Follow Mormon Life Hacker on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ldslifehacker/

Subscribe to Mormon Life Hacker on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MormonLifeHacker

Email Newsletter Signup

 

 

20 comments
  1. That article doesn’t seem to be written by an LDS author; or if it was he/she is not knowledgeable about the work of the church. I certainly don’t agree that “it isn’t the culture” when that is a large part of it. The American culture as represented in the media and taught in the schools is godless, purposeless and nihilistic. I’m sorry I wasted my time reading this. I believe in a prophet and apostles who are called by Jesus Christ to lead and guide us. They are more up to date on everything than most people want to accept. They put great time, effort and money into serving the millenials and encouraging them in living the gospel. We are to be a “peculiar people”, different from the world, fitting ourselves to the pattern of the Lord, not trying to adjust the church to fit us.

    1. If you can’t see the institutional failings of the Church after reading this article, you haven’t talked to youth lately. My 13-year-old has asked all of these questions. We need to change the way we do business.

      1. I wrote a long reply, but I pushed a wrong button and it got deleted. Suffice it to say that we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this. I have five young adult children and none of them have asked these questions. I don’t see any institutional failings, only people failing to live the gospel. But that is what the Atonement is for, isn’t it?. The primary mission of the church is to preach Faith in Jesus Christ, REPENTANCE, Baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

    2. My comments reflect what Rozy stated I don’t think this person is an LDS author. When I was a millennial I did leave the faith I was raised in because of the things you listed. After being introduced to the LDS Church I have been blessed in so many ways and always finding the answer to my questions, through studying, reading the scriptures and following the teaching of the Lord. Since the time I converted from my old faith I have been blessed with 8 wonderful kids that i and my wife have raised, three of the boys have gone off on missions, one of our girls has and another desires to go as soon as she turns 19. Our youth love attending church and it they would consider it a punishment if they couldn’t go. I have gone through the stages of being a single millennial, part of the young married couple in our Church and I think I’m part of the older people in my Church now only because we have a lot of younger married couples in our Church. If your not married and your under thirty we have young single wards, and if your over 30 we have single adult wards. All of them have lessons and activities of interest geared to those members. I just lost my wife to cancer at the age of 53 and though my heart is broken and I go through the stages of grief I know that my time here as well as all of us is temporal and I have the blessing of being sealed to my wife so we have the blessing of being together forever. I think the reason why people are falling away from the Church is not because the teaching of Christ is wrong or old. It’s because many people aren’t living Christ like lives in the home and as a family. Many people focus on the temporal world rather than the Spiritual world. The twelve complaints things I remembered and still here from friends who belong to another faith or a “Non-denominational” faith. To many people want to join a church as long as it is convenient to them and doesn’t step on the way they live their lives.

  2. What I have found is that in the LDS church its the quality and depth of the youth leaders that make all the difference. The church outlines are so minimal it allows teachers, advisors, and leaders a lot of room to curtail the programs to youth needs. A good leader is one that helps to direct the church perspective to the youth as one that is capable of meeting their needs. One thing we are doing in our ward is offering an anonymous question and answer forum to answer those hard questions. In class I bring up the most important issues dealing with morality, gender, drug and sex addictions, etc. Its important that we are up to date with our youth needs so that they feel comfortable coming to us for answers they may not be adequitley getting at home or school. Our church offers that in and through the spirits direction. But it really falls on having good leaders, that is paramount!

    1. I would encourage you to read the story of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah. This whole blog screams the peak of the pride cycle and I get that Satan knows how to manipulate information and the current generation better than anyone. It’s harder to just believe now days because if information overload and my guess is this is how Satan wants it. At some point all I have to care about is if I am square with God and if the larger institution isn’t that’s okay because I’m not looking for institutional salavation, I’m looking towards My Savior for the forgiveness I need to return to Father.

      1. > At some point all I have to care about is if I am square with God and if the larger institution isn’t that’s okay because I’m not looking for institutional salavation,

        Well put. I and many others are realizing we don’t need to be saved by a corrupt institution. The obvious response is to leave the institution.

        By the way, I have read the story of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah.

  3. These are excellent points made. However, I have two words: faith and agency.
    If we have faith in our Lord, our appointed leaders-including our parents or guardians-and in the gospel, there isn’t any room for doubt. And we can all choose our path; agency is what forms the whole plan of happiness! The service point, I think, brought this out best. We do our Bible studies to learn the word of God which, as you pointed out, say to serve. However, God will force us to do nothing. We have to choose the serve the least of these.
    I know these feelings. I’m a young person in the Church and the only thing that helps me get through is the gospel. I’m going to be blunt here: these 12 theses are not what the gospel says to do, they are issues that were created by man. The communication is there; It’s right on the Church websites! The adaptation bit: No. The church will not adapt to fit millennial because it us from God. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His gospel will be the same. The cliques are a very real problem and I still struggle with them, but if we are in the same ‘circle’, if you will, as God, we will be exalted on high in the end.
    I think, dear author,that you should spend quality time with the scriptures. The Standard Works, General Conference talks, teachings of the Prophets- the whole deal. Have a question you want answered, a specific one. Seek help from a bishop- you want mentoring and it is 100% available to you. You only have to ask.
    Look at the Mutual theme of James 1:5–6. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.
    Ask in faith. You say you want to feel jubilant about Christ, so it is up to you to get there.
    Listen. The answers are all around you through the whispers of the Spirit. If you listen, you will hear. God loves you more than you can imagine! He wants you to have the answers but He won’t spoonfeed you, which is what our generation is used to. Ask and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.

  4. Understanding the author can make a difference in this article. If you follow the article to the host site, it has this note About the Author at the end.

    About the Author: Sam Eaton is a writer, speaker, and in-progress author who’s in love with all things Jesus, laughter, adventure, hilarious dance parties and vulnerability. Sam is also the founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries, a mental health and suicide-prevention ministry sprinting towards a world with zero deaths from suicide. Come hang out with him at RecklesslyAlive.com.

    He also has this website.
    http://www.recklesslyalive.com/meet-sam-2/

    I would guess he is not LDS. Therefore my first response to the author would be to check out The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I don’t believe our church fits into his standard grouping of “the church” he describes. Our church is headed by a prophet and apostles who are in tune with the Lord. They are aware of the struggles of Millennials and many changes have occurred in the church to help that group fit in and find joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t believe that our church is never changing. We have modern day revelation to help solve today’s problems. No other church has that.

    As for service, Find a cause that you are passionate about and give it your best efforts. I don’t think God cares where we serve as long as we serve somewhere. No matter what your passion, there is a group out there that will help you to serve. And if you can’t find one, the create one. You don’t have to sit back and wait for a calling to serve. Pray for inspiration and then get up and follow the promptings that will come to you. God never turns down helping hands. Not sure where to get started, try the LDS JustServe website, a wonderful crowd sourcing tool to help those in need. Find a need on the site and fill it or add a need to get help for your passion.

    https://www.justserve.org/

  5. This is an interesting article that is a great conversation about how our society is struggling religiously and spiritually. I feel the LDS church does quite well on most of these and it made me feel encouraged by the efforts of our leadership to continue to connect with our millenials. However, I completely agree with the end of times rhetoric complaint. This is not a leadership problem, but members in lessons are constantly coming to this point. There is a societal issue? Clearly the world is ending. We get it. We’re getting closer, but not every issue needs to reference the last days. (Particularly as it relates to thinly veiled political opinions) *personal rant*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like

Organized LDS Family

Organized LDS Family is a neat little site full of Excel spreadsheets and check lists to keep LDS families organized. They have templates for budgets, Scout tracking, and 72 hour…
View Post