Why Millennials Don’t Go to Church

- - Nelson Lewis

I’m a Christian millennial.  But you know what?  I’m in the minority.  According to one study, just 20% of Americans under 30 believe attending church is important, and 59% of them raised in a church have dropped out.  Most of my peers spend their Sunday mornings nursing their hangovers or going to brunch as opposed to heading off to church, and their attitudes are at best indifferent and at worst openly antagonistic.  Regular churchgoers aren’t getting any younger.  What are churches supposed to do if they want to attract a younger crowd?  

Ulm cathedral sunset

Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, there’s no young people

Despite this increased disinterest in church among my generation, most churches aren’t doing anything new to connect with them and change their minds.  It’s almost like they don’t care that they aren’t reaching younger people.  Take a look at the Catholic Church: Pope Francis’ new “kinder, gentler” Catholicism has been resonating with a lot of younger people, but at the same time those same people aren’t going to church.  Because even if Francis says stuff they like, the local church nearby them is pretty much the same as it always was.  They’re blowing a pretty big opportunity to reach new people.  Many churchgoers want to spread the teachings of Jesus and help make the world better.  But that’s kind of tough with how they’ve been acting.

The traditional church, with a pastor preaching to his flock, accompanied by Bible studies and bingo nights, isn’t appealing to millennials.  My peers like being part of something that values them and treats them as equals.  But plenty of modern churches aren’t doing that.  They aren’t asking younger people for their input, and their social activities aren’t appealing to younger people, which tells millennials that they don’t really care what they think.  And because of that, they’ve been adopting an attitude of “well if you don’t care then neither do I”.  Some churches have been reaching younger people with “pub theology”, where a pastor meets at a bar with parishioners to talk about Christianity.  Drinking alcohol to excess can get tricky, but at the same time, things like that are going to reach a lot more younger people than Friday night bingo.  For example, if millennials aren’t going to church on Sunday because they’d rather be doing Sunday brunch, then why don’t churches simply offer their own Sunday brunch?  Christianity is a wonderful thing, but for Christians to reach more people, they need to change their methods, otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant.

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