Why Young People Are Going to Church and What Changes It Should Bring

September 26, 2013

A lot has been written about young adults drifting away from church. The Rev. Ben Gosden, associate pastor of Mulberry Street United Methodist Church, examines Barna Group research that shows why millennials stay connected to church...the commentary appears in Christian Century's CC Blogs...

A lot has been written about why young people are not going to church. Whether it’s the nagging feelings of irrelevancy, the judgmental tone heard from church pulpits and Sunday School rooms, or the distrust in institutions as a whole, everyone seems to have a theory as to why young adults are the biggest demographic of “nones” (a new term labeling those who do not identify with any religious tradition). At some point, I think we can all agree that the constant barrage of “young people don’t go to church because it’s ____” posts run the risk of becoming counter-productive to the mission of helping people of all ages grow in their faith. Surely there’s more than just the story of young people quitting church?

You can imagine my delight to find a recent article by The Barna Group called, “5 Reasons Why Millennials Stay Connected to Church.” You see, I’m a young adult clergyperson and I know young people who are active in local churches. I know young people who never stopped being active in their local church. And I know young people who became active in the local church for the first time as an adult. Young people may not be darkening the doors of our churches in the numbers we might want, but they are coming and that combined with the reasons why some aren’t coming offers the Church some great insight on how to better connect with these people who are coming of age and trying to figure out how to connect faith to such a turbulent time of life. 

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