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In fact, having worked in ministry with young people for twenty years, it's my opinion that those of Generation Y are mostly looking for an authentic expression of Christianity. They are tired of the fake religiosity that many of them have experienced personally or only know through negative portrayals of Christians in the media.
This does not mean, however, that there are not Millennials that were raised in the Church and have left. There are. But I think it's unfair to single out this generation as somehow having abandoned its faith in ways that haven't also been true of my generation (Gen X), my parents' generation (Boomers) and others before that.
As a member of this Gen Y, Barnabas Piper offers some helpful insights on the belief that Millennials are abandoning the Church in greater numbers than previous generations:
"In decades past America was a traditionally churched, religious nation. A significant portion of society was religiously involved, and church was a cultural centerpiece. Those who grew up in explicitly religious families and contexts attended church out of habit. It was expected that come Sunday morning they would scrub behind their ears, put on their nice trousers and tie, and off to church they'd go. The power of cultural expectations was enormous. In entire swaths of the country a person was a pariah if he wasn’t a churchgoer. But no more. Sure, the Bible belt still exists, but the cultural pressure to be in church week in and week out has waned to near zero.
Along with waning cultural pressure, the respect for institutions has diminished among young people, and with it the respect for institutional leaders. While the good Reverend McGillicuddy might once have been a community icon and an authority figure in people's personal lives he is no longer. Neither are churches community hubs (at least in white communities). Young people don't look to institutions or their heads for instruction. The trust isn't there.
And there is a reason trust is missing for the institutional church. For decades a gospel of moralism and legalism was taught in numerous churches. People attended because it was the "right thing to do" and a way to "get right with God."
The expectations placed on members were a particular brand of morality built around which things we don't do (drink, cuss, smoke, watch certain movies, listen to certain music, etc.). It was a burdensome law, one nobody could keep. Many didn't even try though they acted like it on Sundays. And while everyone knew it they kept on doing it. Except now young people won't pretend any more or follow an institution so full of fakery. They don't trust the hypocrisy and they reject the moralism.
So what is it young people are leaving behind? In many cases they are leaving a faux godliness. Millions of lost people, people hanging their hat on morality or mere attendance, populated the pews of the church in previous generations. They were just a lot harder to pick out than those who brazenly walk out the door, so hard we can't even be sure how many there were."To read the rest of Piper's post Are Millennials Less Godly than Previous Generations? please click here.