Is Church the Problem?
Why is it that a growing number of 18-30 year olds, known as millennials, have a negative view of organized religion? A recent survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that least 25 percent of 18-30 year olds do not have ties to a specific religion. They don’t go to church or pray. Religion is not important to them and their lives. Instead, they view themselves as “agnostic,” “atheist,”or “not affiliated.”
As a pastor, to hear that a quarter of “just out of high school, just out of college, just starting their lives” young people don’t have any connection to God is disconcerting. It saddens me that so many 18-30 year olds are ignoring their God who loves them beyond any measure. For a brief moment, while that 25 percent number is staggering, we have to take a step back realize a few things:
1. Seventy-five percent of 18-30 year old people do have some kind of religious affiliation;
2. People of my Generation X generation fell into a 19 percent non-religious number; the current millennials show a six percentage point increase that should be concerning many church goers; and
3. Could it be that the church is the problem?
This is an issue that every pastor has dealt with or is dealing with today. Here at Saint Matthew’s, we have a number of millennials who don’t attend church regularly. I don’t know if they read the bible on their spare time or even spend some time during the day in prayer, but if they are like those in this survey, they don’t do any of it. I’ve tried to gauge why these young people do not come to church regularly or reach out for God, but I don’t have any answers.
Personally, I believe it all falls under the banner, “A Victim of Culture and Society.” People live in the real world and they are challenged daily by issues and ideals that go against God. It is just easier for most people to reject God than to stand up for their faith.
While in my office this morning, I’ve been listening to Gus Lloyd, the host of “Seize the Day” on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM and in the 9am hour, he’s been discussing this topic. One gentleman who falls into that 18-30 year old category called in and basically laid down his law – the church has nothing for him. Lloyd correctly surmised that this man had suffered some hurt at the hand of the church and tried to make a critical point – one that I totally agree with:
Sometimes God’s people stink.
Speaking of Lutheran churches specifically, they are run by older and established members and nearly none of them are willing to give anyone younger than 30 a chance at anything. There will be times of real conflict where the younger person will just leave the church altogether. It the old “It’s my church. I’ve been here longer” mentality.
This falls in line with my tired old line, “The problem with the Christian Church is Christians.”
When I have time later on today, I will expand on this point a bit.