like i said yesterday, thom rainer is the president and CEO of lifeway christian resources, an author, a speaker, and a well-respected analyst of trends in the modern church culture. if you want, you can check out his blog here.
this past weekend, he wrote about five major trends in culture that he and the lifeway research team projects will have a major impact on the church in america…and we’re going to look at different one each day this week.
the first trend was about the millennial generation (also known as generation Y)… the kids born to the baby boomers. these are the teenagers and twenty-somethings we see around us everyday… and of the nearly 80 million of them in the united states, only 15 percent are christian. here’s number two:
The dominant attitude of this huge generation toward Christianity will be largely indifferent. Only 13 percent of the Millennials rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. They are not angry at churches and Christians. They simply ignore us because they do not deem us as meaningful or relevant.
and i don’t need some big dog church analyst to tell me this trend is true. i know it personally. i have a number of twenty-somethings in my life who are living proof. church is no longer a factor in their lives. and they are not angry. they just fail to see the point anymore.
they tried it. it stopped making sense. other things began to be more important. life seems to be fine without the church. less guilt. less complication. less confusion. many of them were the ones that asked the hard questions and saw the hypocrisy. so they walked away.
most days, it breaks my heart. i don’t blame myself. could i (we) have done things differently? of course. would it have made a difference? who knows. but i refuse to give up and i’m definitely committed to fixing what’s wrong when i find it.
we have to stop being afraid of questions and recognize that doubt is not a sign of weakness…nor is it an attack on our belief system. it’s simply part of the journey. we need to become more familiar with their struggles and criticisms of the church and stop being so sensitive to what they see as wrong, intolerant, or judgmental.
i’m convinced that eventually, most people (including millennials) are all looking for the same things. genuine friendship. room for individuality. hope and help in times of difficulty and tragedy. instead of tidy, authoritative answers to every difficult question, i think they are looking for a place to wrestle with doubt and have honest, affirming dialogue.
the word of god is clear that only the holy spirit can change people’s hearts. i’m content to keep that job off my plate…and be diligent about creating an environment where people can have an easier time making that connection.