“The De-churched” simply refers to those who grew up in the church, but have left for various reasons. I can’t claim any part of creating the word, I borrowed it from a friend who describes her calling in life as “reaching out the de-churched”. There is an article on FaithIt.com referring directly to the de-church millennials, and the reasons why they have dropped out of the church. As I am a Millennial, and have seen way too many friends leave the institutional church, here are my thoughts, both on the subject, and on the article. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions, but don’t just assume you are one. With 12 points, there is probably something on which you could improve. There’s points in here on which I can improve, too.
In his article, Sam Eaton makes twelve strong points as to why millennials are leaving the church. I’m not going to focus on all of them. If you want to read all twelve, here is the link: http://faithit.com/12-reasons-millennials-over-church-sam-eaton/
His original observation is that the percentage of millennials still attending church is at an all-time low. I agree. Right now, in my church of approximately 600, there are maybe 10 of us between the ages of 20 and 35 who are regularly at Sunday services. Seriously. We might get up to 15 if all of us were there at the same time. That’s 2.5%, on a good day. More likely, there will be only three of us on any given Sunday, which is 0.5% of the congregation. I also agree that in general, the church seems to be completely ignoring the fact that a generation is missing from their congregations. Has anyone even noticed we’re gone? Is it just me?
Eaton’s first point on why Millennials are leaving is that nobody’s listening to us. That’s pretty much true. Most of the leadership above the age of 35 seems to assume we either don’t care, or would not have any “quality” insight into any church matters. “They haven’t been around long enough to know what’s going on here.” Maybe there’s a reason for that. Fact is, an insider’s perspective is always the best, and we know how our generation thinks. You actually need us to be able to effectively reach us. We really do want to put our two cents in, to reach our friends better, but since we don’t see anyone listening to us, we don’t bother anymore. We no longer expect anyone to listen, so we have decided we can be more effective by being Jesus followers outside of the church.
The second point is that we’re sick of hearing about values and mission statements. Goodness, yes! The only mission statement I pay attention to, ever, is simple: “Know G0d. Make Him Known.” (By the way, this is actually the mission statement of my church.) More simply, love G0d, and love others. These are the two greatest commandments. Look at it this way, as the body of Chr*st, the Church, we already have the ultimate Leader who has our mission statement. While different “departments” (churches) might have different ways they carry out the mission, we all should hold the mission of our Leader.
Skipping the third point, and heading for the fourth, Millennials are tired of having their culture blamed. Oh my word, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “We never used to do it this way”, “That sounds too modern”, “It’s because your generation…”, or “When I was your age, we…”, I could probably travel around the world for the rest of my life, changing the lives of thousands of people. Everyone, we know our generation is messed up. We hurt just as much as you do, maybe more, when we watch our friends walk away from the love of G0d. I have multiple friends who have been hurt, a couple by me, and now they won’t even talk with me because they know I’m a “church person” and don’t want to hurt again. A bit of a side-note, we have to fix this together, because while we have made poor choices, you raised us with poor choices.
Jumping down to Point Seven, we want to be mentored, not preached at. Something Millennials want more than anything is meaningful relationships, to feel valued. We want to be discipled and mentored. Just having someone with whom to walk through life, and being able to ask the hard questions of someone, makes such a difference! Personally, I value a heartfelt, Biblical discussion on something with which I’m struggling, than a “How are you? Good.” followed by a lecture on how I should make a lot of money, find a “steady” job, and be secure in my financial status. I’m not saying those things are bad to discuss, but what if I’m struggling because G0d seems to be leading me into a life of relying on him without the security of a regular paycheck? That lecture now actually makes me have to check my heart and see if this is really what G0d wants me to do, instead of building my confidence and trust in my Creator and His mission. I would love to hear your story, because your life is valuable and I can learn so much through you, but please listen to my story, too. You can learn from me and my live is just as valuable.
Because of all these thoughts, and the other points in Eaton’s article, my generation of millennials has become de-churched. I’m praying we as a group will catch the all-consuming fire of the Most High, and we ignite the largest awakening in all of history. Not on the basis of philosophy, or culture, or ideas, but on the uncompromising Truth, ready to do anything because we have found in Jesus the only thing we need: Him. The De-Churched will change the world, just you wait and see.
Think about it this way. Kids usually look up to teens, right? Teens usually look up to college students and young adults, right? Well, if the young adults are missing because of all the above reasons, don’t you think all the teens are going to start questioning why they are still in church? And if the trend of ignoring and not connecting continues, where will the church be in two generations? Gone. Millennials see this playing out in the world. We know that if we do nothing, so will the teens, pre-teens, and kids coming behind us. We know the example we can set. We know the power we have to change the trajectory of the world. We are doing something about it. Since the church doesn’t seem to want to help us do it, we will continue to feed from the best source of life-changing truth: G0d.
G0d has proven time and time again that he will never leave us, nor forsake us. It’s written all through the Good News, the only basis for Truth. It won’t surprise me in the slightest when the millennial generation catch G0d’s reviving fire, storm the gates of hell, and take back their generation (and those coming behind us) with G0d’s awesome power and authority. We will change the world. If the church isn’t careful, we plan on doing it without them. Trust me, we ache to do it with you for G0d’s glory, but not having you with us won’t stop us. If you want to join us, you can find us in the world, being the love of the Truth to anyone we can possibly be near. Please, please, please, join us.