Gen Y and Church
A recent article on Gen Y and church published on CNN’s faith blog went viral. Three of my friends shared it on Facebook including a young Democrat who is also an Oklahoma state senator. Here it is: Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church. It’s written by Rachel Held Evans, a 32-year-old writer from Dayton, Tennessee. She walks the line between Generation X and Millennials. Here is an excerpt:
Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates – edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.
More and more, Gen Y is sounding like the next generation of, errr, Generation X: Cynical, snarky and distrusting of large institutions.
Amusing Ourselves To Death
When I was in graduate school back in the 90s, I read this book by Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death. The premise is that the things we love will destroy us, not the things we hate. The chapter Shuffle Off To Bethlehem, explores how religion has been packaged as entertainment. It explains how churches use “fraudulent tactics” to capture members. I wrote about Postman’s book back in 2009.
Response to Rachel’s article has been interesting including a hashtag campaign on Twitter started by an LDS mommy blogger: #WhyImStaying. Brett McCracken, the author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, also wrote a response in the Washington Post. Here is an excerpt:
Part of the problem is the hubris of every generation, which thinks it has discovered, once and for all, the right way of doing things. C.S. Lewis called it “chronological snobbery,” defining it as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.”
But a deeper problem is that Christianity has become too obsessed with how it is perceived. Just like the Photoshop-savvy Millennials she is so desperate to retain, the church is ever more meticulously concerned with her image, monitoring what people are saying about her and taking cues from that.
In February 2010, I published a short post with links to four different articles explaining the struggle between Generation X and church. Check it out here. Basically, they say that Generation X has been despairing, despondent and hopeless when it comes to church. But, here’s a link to a post I wrote a few months later about Xers and God: Study Finds Generation X More Loyal To Religion.
So, why have you stayed…or left?
Speaking of churches, I like to photograph them, especially when are in rural Oklahoma towns and have onion domes. I do love a good onion dome, friends. Check out St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Christian Church in Jones, Oklahoma. Jones is about 15 miles east of Oklahoma City. The church was originally founded in December 1918 as the Ukrainian National Greek Catholic Church of St. John. It was rededicated as St. Mary’s in 1925.
About two hours east of Oklahoma City is another church with an onion dome. Three, actually; one for each member of the Trinity. It’s Saints Cyril and Methodius Russian Orthodox Church in Hartshorne. Until Tulsa’s Channel 6 wrote about it last year for the 100th anniversary, very little had been written about it. Back in 2009, when I was considering converting to Christian Orthodoxy I wrote briefly about it and the Try Orthodoxy campaign.
In Rachel’s article she quotes a Millennial, “We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.” The thing is, if His spirit is in you, He’s with you wherever you go — whether ministering in the yards of hell or occupying space on a pew in a church that feels more like a political precinct or Elk’s Lodge.