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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Generation is Leaving the Church

For weeks I have been reading multiple articles about Millennials leaving the church. Basically all of these articles are talking about me and many of my friends. It's hard not to read them because its an older generation trying to pinpoint the reason I left church or why my friends are.  Sure, some of them have some great points, but overall I have been frustrated with the words from them. 

They all have different reasons for why we are leaving:
1.) We are not converted.
2.) We don't have a strong desire to attend church.
3.) We want a church that is more hip for us.
4.) It's the church's fault we are leaving and they've had it coming.

The list could go on and on...but I really don't want to give you a list of more reasons why we are leaving. 

What I really want is to stop being described as a collective and be recognized as an individual. I want the older Christian generation to recognize that they can group us all they want, but it really comes down to our own personal decision to leave the church. Yes, it seems like many people my age are leaving the church, but I am not jumping on the bandwagon because its hip.

 I've left the church because I didn't find what I believe was the body of Christ. 
I left the church because church hurt me. You can read all about that in many of my posts, but to sum it up the church betrayed me. The body of Christ that I grew up with turned its back on me, spread words about my family, and stopped showing me love. 
I left the church because I wanted to discover my own faith personally without people from all sides telling me what I need to believe.

I left the church because I wanted to it. 
Yes, other things pushed me to that decision, but it was my choice. It was not your doing. 
Just like it's your choice to stay, it is also mine to leave.

With the reason I left admitted, I think there is another side that the older generation is missing.
While we are not going to church or being apart of the church, we are still pursuing our faith. 
I am still praying, I am still reading truth, and I am still striving to be like Christ.
I am just doing it outside of a building and I feel FREE!

My generation is still being spiritually fed; we are just doing it in new ways. 
For years, I have heard that I am the generation of change and change is what we are doing.
We are finding fellowship in grabbing coffee and having discussions about our faith.
We are evangelizing by sharing our faith with our friends and allowing each other to have our own opinions.
We are loving people and accepting them for who we are because we are called to love not judge.
We are worshiping while we drive to church, at concerts, or by playing music in our rooms as we study.
We are holding each other accountable via Skype, Facetime, texting, facebooking.
We are still being a body of Christ; we've just improvised the way to do it.

Just because I haven't stepped foot through church doors in months does not mean I am not as strong of a Christian. If anything, I've become stronger in my faith by not stepping through the doors. I've seen God in the people I sit with on the bus, in the people I serve meals to at work, and in the chance encounters I have with people every day.

How about we stop coming up with reasons or ideas of how we can get us back into the church?
Instead, let's continue to encourage my generation to integrate faith into their life in the way they find God most. Let's continue to love each other without having to fit the typical "good Christian" stereotype. Let's just accept each other as we are and leave the big man upstairs to do the judging. 

If you are wanting to hear another millennials thoughts on this matter I very much loved reading this girls insights as well here.
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  1. I like this post. And I like this topic. I wrote my senior thesis on dissent within the Catholic Church, and find this topic so interesting. I think a big reason that I struggle with "going to Church" is that it's so hard to get involved. I feel like they make it so easy for young families...but what about just young single people? The 20somethings get lost between the youth group and the young family groups.

    I think you made an excellent point too--just because we're not at Church, doesn't mean we aren't still pursuing our faith.

    Thanks for this insightful post, dear!

  2. Rachel,

    I really agree with a lot that you have to say. I'm getting frustrated with posts like you're addressing as well. I think that if they really looked as us and knew how to appropriately group us, they would understand that we are finding ways to grow our faith outside of the building. They have told us since we were little, the church is not a building, it is the people. So we are trying to LIVE and LOVE like Christ.

    It has been hard for me to find a church that uses scripture, still preaches about the death of Christ, and tells me the ugly truths. Instead churches think that I don't want to hear the true story and they have made it a show that is easy to sit through because you don't feel convicted. I hear a lot about love and grace and forgiveness. A church should make you want to live differently and point out your weaknesses.

    Great points.

  3. This was an excellent post. It summed up very nicely what I have been trying to say, but unable to put into words for years. Thank you for this.

  4. I absolutely love this post. I haven't gone to church in a while (Here & there) but not as I should. I too find Christ in things I do on a daily basis and I am still wholeheartedly Christian, even I don't attend service. We all worship in our different ways and shouldn't be judged for it.

  5. It's so easy to make a generalization about a group of people, and it's also incredibly false. If the older congregation members want to know why the younger generation is leaving, then they should ask specific people and distill the info from that, not make a generalization (which mostly sounds like blaming your generation for not being good enough). My family left the church for similar reasons, and I grew up getting to explore the worlds' religions and find my own path to divinity. I'd say it's worked out MUCH better than if I'd been forced into a community in which I didn't belong. I don't understand why any spiritual congregation feels the need to have the biggest team, or any team at all- the belief should come first, the community as a natural outcropping of shared belief.

    (and frankly, anyone who is down on you for respecting others enough not to try and convert them to your faith is quite plainly an asshole. I'm so, so very tired of the "with us or against us" mentality in everything these days...why can't we just have frank, honest discussions? It's possible to love someone with whom you disagree! And I applaud you for recognizing and respecting that)

  6. This is such a wonderful post -- and I am glad that you shared it. Like Beth said, it is easy to make a generalization about a group of people even when each individual has different reasons. It is frustrating! If the older members of the church are so concerned about the younger generation leaving, they need to reach out and talk to those members and simply ask why without getting upset or making assumptions. I have not gone to church in years just because I did not feel like I was getting any benefit from what the pastor was teaching. I feel kind of bad about saying that, but it is true. Good for you for standing up for yourself!