Bye-Bye Millennials

Here, in living color, we see the church’s failure to engage an entire generation:

The graphic comes from the Public Religion Research Institute. You’ll notice that it also undermines the evangelical claim that they’re doing better with younger generations than progressive Christians. You’ll see that’s not true. In fact, the evangelical drop is more precipitous than the mainline drop — they’ve also got further to fall.

And, the survey shows, as Whites lose majority in the US, they (we?) tend to long for the good ol’ days:

Demographic differences are reflected in sharply contrasting evaluations of how American culture and way of life has changed since the 1950s. A majority (54%) of Americans say that since the 1950s, American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse, while 4-in-10 (40%) say it has mostly changed for the better.

  • There are significant racial divisions, with 61% of white Americans reporting that American culture has changed for the worse, while majorities of black (56%) and Hispanic Americans (51%) report that things have changed for the better.

The days of reckoning for the White church — both mainline and evangelical — are upon us. Of that there is no doubt.

HT: Gerardo Marti

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You can find all of Tony’s books HERE, and you can sign up to be the first to know about his next book, Did God Kill Jesus? HERE.

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  • mhelbert

    “The days of reckoning for the White church — both mainline and evangelical — are upon us.”
    And, as part of the White church, I think that is a good thing.

    • Ric Shewell

      why is that a good thing?

      • mhelbert

        It should cause us take a breath and try to discern why. Is it simply demographics are changing? Or, does the White church need to do some soul searching? If the latter, then that’s a good thing. Also, diversity is always a good thing. Ending White hegemony can only breathe life into the culture and the Church.

        • Ric Shewell

          I’m glad you say that. I hear a lot of Christians being fine with the general decline of the church with no real care for breathing life into culture and the Church. I am not fine with doing nothing and saying its a good thing the Church is shrinking, but I am all for reform. Thanks.

        • Fred Garvin

          So it would also be great if the Chinese, say, moved in huge numbers to Kenya and made that country Asian and African instead of just African? Or if the Ugandan government invited back the hundreds of thousands of India/Pakistan descended people who had to flee Idi Amin?
          If diversity is good for whites, it should be good for everyone else.
          Unless you’re thinking of diversity as a sort of divine, passive-aggressive payback.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Always nice to wake up to good news.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

      Even as a Christian, I call it good news. It’s high time for “behavior over belief” to become the majority.

  • Nathan

    So much for the “resurgence”.

  • Larry Barber

    But how much of this is generational and how much simply due to them being young? Young people always have had a lower rate of church attendance.

    • Phil Miller

      It does seem that there would need to be data from previous years to see what the trend actually regarding the different demographic groups. All this does right now is tell us the current demographic makeup of these different groups.

      • Ric Shewell

        If anyone has access to ebsco databases, there are numerous studies that can shed light on age demographics and church participation. One that I quickly read was Graphic Presentations of Church Attendance Using General Social Survey Data by Ploch and Hastings for the Journal of Scientific Study and Religion in 1994. Their findings was that church participation steadily rises with age, but life events, such as marriage and new children, have little to no effect on church attendance. While the disparity between age groups was not the focus of their study, it’s obvious that difference between young adults and older adults in church participation is not as large as it is today. Also, the study above is not so much about church attendance as it is about affiliation. There is definitely a larger gap between age groups when it comes to affiliation than there has been in the past.

  • http://mindsquirrel.com/ Andrew Tatusko, Ph.D.

    Interesting point: There is a slight increase in the Hispanic population in terms of Christian affiliations. Here is the rub, in order for the church to gain a foothold in the culture in the future, immigrant populations are essential. This is not a new phenomenon. Catholicism began as an immigrant religious population before it became the largest single denomination. Another factor: Unaffiliated does not mean atheist or agnostic. True those numbers have increased slightly in the past few years. The largest increase in that population was, however, in the 90′s as “Gen X” got older. Unaffiliated looks more like Emergent as a subcultural movement rather than an organized religious structure. Conclusion: the structure of religion is changing as the population changes. Wuthnow predicted this in his book “The Restructuring of American Religion.” Wilson, Martin, Stark, Bianbridge and others saw the trend as well. What sociologists knew in the 80′s is finally catching up to our observations today.

    • SecularAmerican

      Another factor: Unaffiliated does not mean atheist or agnostic.

      True those numbers have increased slightly in the past few years.Unaffiliated looks more like Emergent as a subcultural movement rather than an organized religious structure.

      True, unaffiliated does not mean atheist or agnostic, but other surveys like ARIS 2008 and 2011(?) indicate that there is a very large gap between self-identification as atheist or agnostic and people who answer that there is, “no god” or that “god is unknowable.” (1-2% self identification v 12% fitting the definition of atheist or agnostic, ARIS 2008). This of course, still leaves a very large chunk of millennials in the spiritual or emergent category. For reference, the ARIS report didn’t slice that particular figure by age group.

      What is your opinion on the future direction of the Emergents? I don’t see any formal religious organization taking shape around them at the moment, pretty much exactly the opposite. I would like to hear from someone who studies this more professionally.

      • http://mindsquirrel.com/ Andrew Tatusko, Ph.D.

        I liken it more to the Oxford groups. This was an early 20th century religious movement that was very loosely organized. It met a certain need at the time and when that need died off so did the organization. Very soon, if not already, what we call emergent will be a blip in history after these loose, local organizations die off – which has happened – or become more solidly organized – which has been done. An organization of sort will emerge in each of the groups that have been meeting under the banner of emergent. This is evidential in the history of religion dating back as far as we can see. It is also evident in any group of people that gather for a purpose. Even AA, which is a quasi-religious group, now has a loose organizational structure where its traditions clearly state that it should lack formal organization. Note that AA is an offshoot of the Oxford groups.

  • Jose Martinez-Villamil

    Aren’t we supposed to compare the 18-29 age bracket with the SAME bracket of some 25 or 50 years ago? Cold’t we interpret this as meaning that as millennials grow older they will return?

    • Lausten

      This data would not show that, but it is not an unreasonable theory. However, I believe there is data showing very little movement after age 29.

  • Matt Ybañez

    Lol…Kenda Creasy Dean’s “Mormon Envy” comes to mind…

  • http://anglobaptist.org/ Tripp Hudgins

    I don’t buy the rhetoric of “failure.” What’s the ecclesiology there, Tony?

    • toddh

      What’s your point? I think failure is an apt description.

      • http://anglobaptist.org/ Tripp Hudgins

        That this is bigger than the church…beyond our control, really. It’s a bit grandiose to think that we caused or can change too much of this. We did not “scare away a generation” nor can we “court them back into the fold.” There’s more at work in this shift than that.

        • toddh

          Ok, I think that’s very fair, and I agree. Can’t you also say that congregations bear some responsibility to adequately contextualize their message and practices for that age group though? I wonder about this a lot because I work with middle school and high school students, and I know where they are headed in a few years. Sometimes when I sit in a worship service, I understand why they would want no part of it.

          • http://anglobaptist.org/ Tripp Hudgins

            This is where my own personal narrative gets in the way, to be candid. I did no grow up in church. My parents bailed early on. I came into the church through the academic mainline Protestant door as a young adult. And though I understand where many people get frustrated, I’m not sure that progressive politics or process theology or contemporary music is necessarily reaching people any better then 16th-century polyphony.

  • James

    It’s really not hard:
    1) stand up to the fundentalists who use the bible as a weapon to validate their own prejudices
    2) provide evidence that your faith claims are true before expecting others to believe them as well

  • Tim Wilcox

    Here are some of the reasons why younger generations don’t go to church. I know, because I am of the younger generation:
    1. Churches are institutions. We are a generation that is wary of institutions. They, by nature, are designed to protect themselves and to make decisions for the benefit of the institution. This does not allow for change. Versions of the “truth” are told to the masses to benefit the institution. Knowledge is withheld. Churches are run as any other business – to please the “customers.” Therefore, the church as an institution cannot be trusted.
    3. See the graphs? They are evidence that church is designed to please the older generations. They are the ones who actually come to church and pay the bills. They are not interested in change and they are comfortable within a structured institutional environment. See #1.
    4. The older generations, in their ignorance, have allowed much darkness to prevail for far too long. (for example, Pedophile Catholic Priests) There are efforts to change this, but the older generations are still very conservative and that leads to the perception by the younger generations that any organization that is still in the older generation’s power is not to be trusted. See #3.
    5. The model of God as the elder parent, sitting on a throne of judgement does not appeal to a younger generation. Authoritarian models are not to be trusted. In the past, people thought they would be subject to judgement by the vengeful god if they tried to challenge the authority of the church. This has allowed #4 to occur.
    6. To sum it up, we just don’t trust the church anymore. We are afraid to bring our children there because we don’t want them indoctrinated with the same warped rhetoric that we have come to disbelieve. Because we don’t trust the church, most of us don’t think we can trust God. See #5. This is why God is no longer allowed in schools. The vengeful god is considered dangerous. Many have killed in his name. Unfortunately, the True God of Love is not well represented.
    7. A growing number of young people do not believe in the judgmental vengeful god because he seems to be a hypocrite, threatening eternal damnation if we don’t believe in his son. At some point we were told that God is Love. Unconditional Love. That does not jive with the vengeful god model. “Unconditional” is a type of love that knows no bounds and is not subject to rules and regulations. It is free. There are no exceptions. Unfortunately, this is not the type of love that young people believe they can find in church. Many churches are beginning to understand this, but far too many have a long way to go. There are unfortunately not enough churches that have figured this out yet, so younger people are fed up with the entire thing, and we just don’t go.

    Does this make sense? Does this answer your question? This is why the church is out of touch with the younger generations. It doesn’t serve them. Many attempts that appear to try to reach out to the younger generations seem forced and disingenuous. And even if they are sincere, the younger generation doesn’t trust them anyway because they don’t trust the source in the first place.

    So if you want young people to come back to church, make us trust the church again.

    • crashtx1

      There are so many errors in your comments that I won’t begin to address them all(like you are considering yourself young?). I think they key to your issue is in the last paragraph, you want the church to service you. That is not the purpose of the church.

      • Tim Wilcox

        I’m 33… if the church is not for serving the people, then what is it for? Is it in existence for its own benefit?

        • crashtx1

          33 moves you into the second grouping, and it questionable to be called a “millennial”. Regarding service, people should not shop for a church like they would a restaurant. The church is a place that allows Christians to serve each other. We are the church. A problem with many people is they plop their bottom in a seat, cross their arms, and say “ok, let’s see what you got”.

          • Tim Wilcox

            We are the parents and the older siblings of the Millenials. If we aren’t going to church, they aren’t going either. But they don’t understand why they aren’t going, they just know that they aren’t interested. As an adult, I understand why. And what I said is true whether you think there are flaws in my explanation has nothing to do with it. There are people who think this way, even if you don’t agree. This is the perception. And maybe some of us are going to church with the wrong attitude, but that’s the reality. I simply stated WHY younger people aren’t going to church. And the church has largely ignored this, but it is learning. There are many churches that are the exception, Thank God, but far too many need to catch up if they want to see more young people in their seats on Sunday morning. Just be aware of it, and don’t tell young people it’s their fault. That doesn’t go over well.

            • crashtx1

              I understand that, I’m involved in a church that is doing a good job appealing to the younger crowd. Churches just have to get past the millennial’s narcissism and desire to change the gospel to fit their “feelings”.

              • Tim Wilcox

                All I can emphasize is there is a historical reason for their narcissism, and apathy. And the church is partly responsible for that. And one thing I might add, the belief that the gospel is about saving people from hell and gathering up a large group of converts to Christianity is a tragic error. The gospel is about Loving People in relationship to God. God is your Father, People are your siblings. There is a tendency among Christians to think that only other Christians are their brothers and sisters. This is not correct. ALL people are God’s children. God doesn’t hold a certain group of his kids in higher regard than the others, despite the general consensus among Christians. The gospel is about Love – and that is its prime directive. This has everything to do with feelings. It’s LOVE that “saves” you. Not a set of rigid beliefs. If people don’t feel loved at church, and it seems as though the people there are more concerned about whether you are following the tenets of their belief system correctly so that God won’t punish you when you die, it’s not so hard to see how this would be a turn off. I hope your church is centered around loving people, rather than saving them from God’s wrath. More and more people are choosing not to believe in that god anymore. That god is not to be trusted. They are tired of being told that they should fear God. You cannot love something that you fear. I know that’s not what “fear” means in this case, but the word “fear” in the reverent sense has lost its meaning to younger generations. It is old terminology and I think it should be banned from church forever. It’s supremely important that people feel loved at church, above all else. Love ATTRACTS people – of all ages. The new Pope seems to understand this. I hope the world follows his lead.

                • crashtx1

                  I don’t think they fear the terms as much as they fear what many fear from the heart of the gospel – that I may need to change. Am I hateful, bigoted, and judgmental? Yikes, need to change. Am I living in sin? Ditto. So the both the prostitute and the men with stones were if need of repentance and forgiveness.

                  • Tim Wilcox

                    But you could see how that version of the gospel could me misconstrued as, “If I don’t change, God won’t love me anymore.” That’s just not true! The best way to express God’s love to a person isn’t to threaten them or suggest that there is something wrong with them and demand that they change. It’s simply just to Love them! When a person feels loved, THAT is what transforms them! (that’s how Jesus did it!) The person goes through an inner transformation and the negatives melt away. They find value and acceptance in that love and find no need to sin anymore because of what that kind of behavior attracts to them. Love is all you need. Love attracts more love! People should be getting that message at church and instead they are feeling judged, and young people are especially susceptible to those kinds of feelings. Their daily world is judgement and a struggle for acceptance. They should have a place to go where they don’t feel that way. And, as I said, there are places like that. Just not enough of them. And it is discouraging to the effect that young people aren’t seeking them out.

                  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                    Oops. You’re forgetting the lesson of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery: namely, suspension of judgement. Forget about her. Quit hounding. Quit checking over Jesus’ shoulder.

                    • crashtx1

                      There are several lessons in the part of scripture, including about judging others. However, along with not condemning her, Jesus also said for her to go and sin no more. He didn’t tell her to start a church for adulterers because that prohibition is so old fashioned. He required her to change.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Quit checking over Jesus’ shoulder, ok? You’re not getting that yet.

                    • crashtx1

                      Ah, sorry, thought you wanted to have a discussion on part of scripture, but I go can with quips as well.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      I’m discussing the central ethical teaching of Jesus’ words in that particular story, i.e., the concept of suspension of judgement. You can’t let go of your penchant to make sure she got hers.

                    • crashtx1

                      No, I’m glad she didn’t “get hers” any more than I want to “get mine”. She accepted the gift that was offered. She could have rejected it just as easily.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Gift offered? That’s doubleplusgood fundiechurchspeak. Why can’t what Jesus said to her be considered something like….sage advice?

                      Oh, right, because everything fundies read of Jesus has to be transformed into the “offer” of a passive-aggressive mafia don, one you can’t refuse without getting your kneecaps busted.

                    • crashtx1

                      What the heck is a “fundie”? Ohhhh, you can’t have an intelligent discussion, you ran from church because someone hurt your feelings, so you just pass out insults. I’m about as far away from a “fundamentalist” as you can get.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Fundie is short for fundamentalist. I didn’t make up either name. Rather than an insult, it was a self chosen name.

                      1. Biblical inspiration and the inerrancy of scripture as a result of this
                      2. Virgin birth of Jesus
                      3. Belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin
                      4. Bodily resurrection of Jesus
                      5. Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus
                      /wiki/Fundamentalism‎

                      So you do not agree to any of that? My apologies.

                    • crashtx1

                      Kind of funny, what you term “fundamentalist” has for most of history been the basic tenets of Christian teaching.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Fundamentalism ≠ Christianity, even historically. But yes, those points are the self-proclaimed basic tenets of Fundamentalist Christianity, that last 4 resting on the primary first.

                      And I don’t believe in any of 5 tenets, and am still a Christian, in the same way several prominent founding fathers were Christians.

                      • “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” ~John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, September 3, 1816

                      • “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” ~Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

                      • “…I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

                    • crashtx1

                      Wow, and I’m the judgmental one? It sounds like you have no real belief at all, and that’s fine, but don’t package hedonism, spend some time doing copy / paste because you have no knowledge of your own, and call it all Christianity.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Hedonism? What next, a rabbit out of your hat?

                      P.S. Jefferson would have considered you an atheist, or a demonist. Believe in sssSatan?

                      • “I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

                      • “I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, January, 8, 1789

                    • crashtx1

                      More good copy / pasting. Impressed. So if you don’t believe any of the tenets of the Christian faith, but consider yourself a Christian, what do you believe?

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      I do not believe the tenets of Fundamentalism. They do not make one a Christian. Check your premise.

                      1. I am a Christian in the same way the Thomas Jefferson defined the term.

                      “To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, May 21, 1803
                      monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/jeffersons-religious-beliefs

                      2. The term “God” is best defined by the deism-pantheism spectrum, as is written in the Declaration of Independence, i.e., “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

                      Who is Nature’s God?
                      The Hanover Historical Review, 1993
                      history.hanover.edu/hhr/hhr93_1.html

                      3. Jefferson’s creed was behavior over belief. Jesus was an ethical reformer, not a magical dying-rising solar deity.

                      “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But a heresy it certainly is.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, August 15, 1820

                      4. God gave you a brain; use it. The best tool is reason.

                      Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
                      ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

                      5. The Bible is mostly bullshit with a few ethical diamonds. Thus, I read mostly the highly edited Jefferson Bible.

                      “The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

                    • crashtx1

                      So you follow the teaching of Jefferson, believe in Jesus, but not the historical teachings on Jesus. Interesting. Down south we’d call that a “roll your own”.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Paul, the imposter, or as some call him, The Mythmaker, rolled his own religion out of several pagan dying rising saviors, Greek superstitions, and some Jewish tradition. You smoke that, so what’s the problem?

                      Myself, I’ll take the historical ethical teachings of Jesus, not the magical garbage cut and pasted onto the Son of Man.

                      “Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

                    • Ghost_King

                      Crash….and burned ur self…. You just proved Tims point, no Gen Y or whatever tag you place on US will listen to someone like you. You havent learned what compassion, love and grace means. You wount change the world either, because you still think it is up to you. You can also take ur daddy issues and fight somewhere else please. Your sarcasm is also weak. Tim and Brian i agree with a lot of what you guys say- thank you!!

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                  > You cannot love something that you fear.

                  Indeed, “there is no fear in love,” as the Bible says.

                  If god is love, and there is no fear in love, then it follows that fearing god is illogical.

                  • Tim Wilcox

                    In fact, fear and love are absolute polar opposites. Many think it’s love/hate. But hate is actually a result of fear. Remember Yoda? “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” That’s a true statement! But love…it only leads to more love.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

                      Agreed! And comedian Bill Hicks understands what Jesus taught better than self-styled Christians.

                      The world is like a ride
                      You think it’s real – it’s just a ride
                      And we can change it any time we want
                      It’s only a choice – between fear and love

                      ~St. Bill Hicks

                      youtube.com/watch?v=cvz9uSK3zXo

                    • Tim Wilcox

                      Ha Ha! I LOVE IT! I’m gonna have that song stuck in my head all day now!

          • missholly46

            Here’s the perfect example of why the church is losing/has lost millennials….”The church is a place that allows Christians to serve each other.” Are you kidding me? The church is a place where we are given the opportunity to serve OTHERS.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

        In other words, there are no errors in Mr. Wilcox’s assessment, and you merely wish to register your disagreement.

        P.S. Institutions are supposed to serve the community. That’s why churches get a tax break. Or would you like to stop that racket?

        • crashtx1

          The tax laws are related to churches being non-profit(and that’s a rabbit whole of a discussion for sure), not that they provide community service(though ours is very involved in our community). I didn’t read Ed’s comments to be at all related to serving the community, but more the “what’s in it for me” perspective.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

      +1, Tim. A well thought analysis.

      My wife and I dechurched 20+ years ago. Pastors thought we were going to hell because we didn’t believe in sadistic hell torture.

      Torture is the crux of the typical Christian belief system, as evidenced by the statement, “If there’s no Hell, then why be a Christian?”

      Indeed, they admittedly miss the whole point. Jesus never meant to be a magical fire insurance talisman, but that is what they’ve turned him into.

  • Teer Hardy

    Not only are mainlines and evangelicals unable to attract millennials on Sunday morning but the ordination process (or hoops) deter millennials from becoming the future leaders of those same declining institutions. Ordination hoops that can take up to a decade to complete on top of a $50k degree (with little financial aid) makes it hard for (and not very appealing) to anyone who might want to step into a leadership role.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

      If we can’t be ordinate, then we’ll be subordinate! ;) Oh, right, “ordination” just means being put higher on a Cartesian graph, which Jesus specifically taught against. Jesus was an egalitarian leveler.

      • “Call no man your patre/patron/pastor on the Earth.” ~Jesus
      • “Rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” ~Jesus

      Bye, bye church hierarchy.

  • raggedclown

    So the church has had 65 years to bring the people in column 4 into the fold, and only 18-29 years to bring the people in column 1 into the fold. Were the column 4′s identifying exactly the same when they were 18? I doubt it. If you had this data from 10 years ago, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago would the trends be a lot closer? I wonder.

    • AshleyWDC

      Several commenters have speculated about this here. The best data I’ve seen on this particular question is from the 2010 Pew study on religion among the millenials:

      http://www.pewforum.org/2010/02/17/religion-among-the-millennials/

      The first graph shows that religious affiliation within a generation stays mostly constant over each generation’s lifetime. So the answer to your question, “Were the column 4′s identifying exactly the same when they were 18?” is roughly yes. Generational religious affiliation seems to be more or less set by adulthood.

  • Bruce Smith

    This data states that we have failed to engage an entire generation. Is it that, or has an entire generation refused to engage with the Church? I am not trying to excuse inaction, but if we are to turn these numbers around we really need to know what we are up against.

    Every church I have attended, worked with, ministered in; has a firm desire to reach out and share Jesus Christ with the young of our community. We have attempted old ways and new ways. Are we to compete with the world to catch their attention? We cannot conform to this world, no matter how badly we want to reach someone.

    Our methods must hold true to Christ’s love, God’s word and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

  • George Friesen

    Or, could we say the failure of parents to engage an entire generation?

  • Nathan

    i just don’t get all the handwringing. This all sounds like the same set of worries when they were talking about “GenX”. But…the dead center of that demographic is 40 so they don’t matter anymore apparently. haha.

  • Fred Garvin

    Very glad as an atheist that is is happening to Whites; when will Blacks and Hispanics receive the fulness of the Progressive revelation and not have to listen to idiots like Farrakhan and tolerate Jackson and Sharpton as “leadership”?

  • Andrew Dowling

    IMO a large chunk of this can be attributed to the right wing politicization of American Christianity in the public/cultural sphere that began in the 70s and got mainstream in the 80s and 90s. Thank you cards can be sent to the tomb of Jerry Falwell and the 3 Rs: Reed, Robertson, and Reagan (the latter wasn’t even religious but pandered to the religious right and helped legitimize them as a political force)

  • disqus_BrxvaD870A

    Hmmm…but even looking at that chart it looks like white evangelical church failed to really engage Gen X as well.

    What I can’t tell is whether the chart’s 100% is all religious people (as in 31% of millennial religious are unaffiliated). If that’s the case, the chart makes my head want to explode with the typical evangelical assumption that we are the Only Christians. Changing religious practice is pretty normative for church history, so it makes sense. I mean, I’m sure mainline protestants back in the 60s could have drafted this up and been like: Oh NO! All the Boomers are going nondenom! ;)

    And if the 100% is all people religious and nonreligious, I’m not so sure it’s that shocking.I don’t know why this article makes me want to push back a little – maybe I’m just being contrary this morning – ha! But I wonder if this has more to do with the decrease in nominal Christianity. I mean for the 60+ generation, most Americans were raised with a religious norm – culturally, not to believe in God was outside the norm, or certainly never broadcast. I wonder how many really resonated with the faith, though?

    Anyway, I’m feeling sociologically crabby. What is this supposed to mean? Why is it a reckoning? Feels like the author’s intent is to stir up readers with a “We’re failing! Panic! Get on it!” message.

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