Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Young People Turning Away From Organized Religion..but not from God.

According to some recent research by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, members of the Millennial generation (those currently in their late teens to late twenties) are much more likely to have abandoned formal religion than older generations. At least one in four adults under the age of thirty describe themselves as "atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular" and 65% do not attend any kind of religious worship services.

Even as disconcerting as these realities may be for those of us that work with young people, there are a couple of encouraging trends that are taking place. For those that are actively involved in their faith, the number of those taking their faith very seriously is comparable to previous generations:
"Among Millennials who are affiliated with a religion, however, the intensity of their religious affiliation is as strong today as among previous generations when they were young. More than one-third of religiously affiliated Millennials (37%) say they are a "strong" member of their faith, the same as the 37% of Gen Xers who said this at a similar age and not significantly different than among Baby Boomers when they were young (31%)."
Also, even though many young people have given up on the traditional church and formalized religion, they are still very much open to God and spiritual issues. For far too many of us, the Christianity that we were introduced to in our youth was a boring, dry faith that was dominated by rules and regulations and missed out on a real relationship with the living God. Add to that the failure of many spiritual leaders to live by the standards that they required others to live by and it is not any wonder that young people would want nothing to do with the Church when they enter adulthood.

For those of us that have traveled a similar path, it is up to us to show the younger generation that Christianity is not about rules and it's not about suits and ties and pretty dresses. Christianity, at its heart, is about a personal relationship with our Creator and Maker. For those of us that are leaders in our churches we need to ask ourselves whether the environment we help to create in worship settings is conducive for children and teenagers to meet God right where they're at.

Is the faith that we practice and model in front of impressionable young eyes that of honesty and humility and love? Or is it a rigid formality that paints God as a distant, uncaring judge that is just waiting to discipline us? When young people are introduced to the God of the Bible -- a God of love and justice and compassion and truth -- they will be interested. In thinking about this subject, my mind is drawn back to one of my favorite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman, For Who He Really Is. Here are the lyrics:
"Too many hypocrites," I heard her say,
"I even saw it in the headlines today;
How can I follow God when His own people turn away?"
She said, "Nobody’s perfect but I just want to see
Somebody living what they say they believe;
If they’ve got all this world needs like they say,
I wonder why won’t they give some away."

Can he see God for who He really is
In what he sees in you and me.
Can he see God for who He really is,
For who He really is is all he really needs to see.

He slips into church and he puts up his guard;
They look so happy but his life’s been so hard.
He keeps his distance so they won’t see the scars;
It’s just a religion that’s all dressed up in white,
And God is love as long as you’re living right.
But does he know that Jesus also has scars,
And His love can reach Him no matter how far.


The skeptics are watching to see who will fall,
While those disillusioned search for the Truth in it all;
Maybe today we’ll cross their paths unaware,
And they’ll stop and look at us. What will be there?

If you're an invidual that is intrigued about learning more about a real relationship with God, please click here. I'd love to help you on this journey.

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