Why Millenials are leaving the Church
Why Millenials are leaving the Church
By: Sederrick Raphiel
I have been hearing stories of an overwhelming amount of reports and statistics that have flooded the news wires with the alarming news that Millennials (today’s 18-34 year-olds) are leaving the church in droves. Even more news reports on the degree in which fewer and fewer Americans identify themselves as being Christians.
As a Pastor, I have to ask the question WHY? What would cause people to leave the church and disassociate themselves with Christ? Before I address this question I wanted to take a quick look at the role of a Pastor and how he or she may affect this downward trend. Many people will never quite understand the calling of Pastors but to articulate it simply – by accepting my call I have submitted my- self and all of my resources into fulfilling the role of a “Chief Marketer” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as lead marketer I have to face the harsh reality that there is a real decline in interest in the product/service that I absolutely love. The Gospel.
So, the first thing I must do is survey the market- place to see why my traditional customer base has lost interest in our establishment. Here are two major reasons why I believe the Church community is losing its flock:
REASON ONE: THE CHURCH IS HYPER JUDGMENTAL AND SEEMINGLY RACIST
The Church’s internal battles over homosexuality, racism and sexism have exhausted Millennials. As a result, they are expressing their discontentment by leaving the church.
The polarizing effect of the “Black vs. White” issues have plagued this country and its churches for decades. This effect has left Millennials feeling ostracized, leaving them with no other choice but to find a new place to worship or to entertain other faiths.
The Church has to realize that our children no longer think or emote in “Black & White”. In fact, have actually begun to blur the lines of color differentiation. Especially in the most recent decade.
There has been a “Tanning of America” that has dramatically changed the landscape of our country due largely to the dominating influence of the Hip Hop culture that has united this generation.
I personally believe that Millennials are the first generation to reflect the ideal of what America was originally founded on. They truly represent a melting pot of inclusion and acceptance based solely on thought and nothing else. It no longer matters about race, creed, or color.
Exclusion in any form or fashion from the church based on color, sex or theology will be shunned and not tolerated. For example, most millennials support gay rights. They are more keen on working with the more progressive world than wasting time holding endless verbal confrontations over sexuality.
HOW DO WE CORRECT THE SITUATION? The Church has to embrace diversity of all races, ages and cultures. We have to applaud difference and abolish traditionalism. We have to be willing to get outside of our own confining boxes of thought.
Millennials are young but capable. Don’t be afraid to make them leaders within the church. Maturity is not exclusive to age. I know plenty of old fools.
People who have decades in ministry yet remain as toddlers in their thinking.
If we are truly preparing the Church for the next generation, then let’s include the next generation in charting the course. We are just re-emphasizing what their teachers, mentors, and guardians have let them know their entire lives. However, when we exhibit a hesitation in including them in the development of the vision of Church, we leave them feeling unappreciated, unwanted and unwelcome.
REASON TWO: THE CHURCH IS SEEMINGLY SELFISH, HYPOCRITICAL & NON-AUTHENTIC Millennials are looking for authenticity. The lack of “realness” exhibited within the body of Christ unfortunately have caused Millennials to have a dim view of church. They are highly skeptical of religion. Yet they are still seeking spiritual transcendence.
But when we, traditional Christians refuse to operate in a heightened spiritual consciousness but rather operate with a self serving, hypocritical and judgment mentality, we further fracture the brokenhearted Millennial that desires to believe in the faith of their parents.
When we tell them that God will give them better marriages and family, it sounds like background noise because they’ve taken note that our marriages are falling apart. There is over a 50% divorce rate in the United States. In fact, Atheists have a lower divorce rate than Christians. Our “Christian Witness” to Millennials is saying the direct opposite of what our faith advertises. As a living testimony to this generation, our lives are supposed to work. However, when examined closely, the Christian lifestyle leaves a lot to be desired and the only ones to blame are ourselves.
HOW DO WE CORRECT THE SITUATION? (Picture me passionately, yet respectively yelling) Bipolar Christian behavior has to STOP! We call ourselves believers, yet we are the first to get caught on vehicles of social media advertising our “non-belief”. When face to face with others, our ugly dispositions take center stage and our attitudes are unlovely even though we proclaim that God is love. Our behavior has become confusing and Christians don’t look any different than the world.
We are marketers of the Christian faith. We are the visible manifestation of the invisible God we serve. People ought to be able to see God at work in us. They should know what God’s love feels like by how we love them. It only makes sense for a world that is looking to find God to first look at us.
But ask yourself this first… “If the world is looking for God, would they look at me?” In reality, the church is simply a pile of neatly constructed sticks and bricks. The real church is you and I – embodied in flesh and blood. So we (Christians) have to ask ourselves, “Am I the reason Millennials are leaving the church in droves?” Hopefully the answer is NO. Then ask yourself, “Can I be the reason they come back?” Hopefully that answer will be YES.
Sederrick Raphiel is Lead Pastor of The Harvest Ministry of Dallas,Texas