If you read the USA Today this week, you may have seen the headline, Survey: 72% of Millennials more spiritual than religious. The USA Today was quick to report the bad news for churches and referenced the extensive research recently completed by LifeWay here in Nashville. The LifeWay study will be included in a new book entitled, “The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation" by LifeWay president, Dr. Thom Rainer and his son Jess.
Millennials are those born between 1980 and 1991 and include our two children, now adults.
I’ve recently spoken with the fine people at LifeWay regarding this research and there is promise as well as a warning in these results. For one thing, this Millennial is actually more spiritual than expected. The survey found for example that while the Millennials hold diverse beliefs, about 60% say that their religious faith is very important in their lives today. Further even a greater percentage agreed that Christian churches are still relevant in America today.
65% however reported that they never or rarely ever attend church, despite the fact that the same percentage, 65% identified themselves as Christians.
The challenge here for those of us that are leading churches is to understand that we need to continually re-invent the church. "The most dangerous trends in the church are the trends we don’t see." (Quote from D.A. Carson to the Acts29 Network, September 2008). Many churches are reinventing themselves and finding ways to reach out to all generations and particularly to the lost. They are introducing dynamic worship and culturally relevant teachings, all the while continuing or re-committing to Biblical authenticity.
Most other churches however are in complete denial. Their typically shrinking congregations are wondering why fewer and fewer people are attracted to their services. Their attendance has been in decline for year or at best is failing to keep up with the population growth of the community. Visitors in many of these churches are becoming rarer than family night in today’s busy society.
This Millennial generation is now coming of age. They are having children and becoming like previous generations responsible and serious adults. They have a spiritual leaning that is God given (2 Cor 5:14) We constantly need to reinvent the church to attract those that are longing for truth in a world that is becoming more and more indifferent.