Over at the Lutheran, the magazine of our communion partner, the ELCA; they’re asking “Has God forgotten how to call young people?”
Drawing on research by the Pew Research Center, the article states;
29 percent of millennials (ages 18-33) aren’t affiliated with any religion and the rate of atheism in this group is twice as high as any other generation in America. Why? David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me (Baker Books, 2011), suggests millennials are leaving the church because they experience it as overprotective, shallow, anti-science, simplistic toward sex, exclusive and unwilling to provide room for doubt.
But the ELCA should be a mecca for young people. We have a complex understanding of sexuality, an open view of Christianity, we provide room for doubt and promote scientific exploration. So why are our young people leaving?
The same question applies to the Episcopal Church; the average age of our membership is 57 and the Church Pension Group’s Report on the Clergy noted that
“The age distribution of clergy has changed drastically over time, with fewer clergy being ordained at younger ages and more clergy with older ages at ordination.” The current average age at ordination is 44, and out of over 13,000 clergy, only 624 of which are under the age of 40.
The Lutheran editorial posits it’s an issue of courage
Millennials are afraid to be Christian. It’s safe to join the Peace Corps, run a race that raises money for the poor, occupy Wall Street or make the world awesome by being a “nerdfighter.” It is not safe to be a Jesus follower.
But also, they suggest it is a lack of courage on the part of the Church;
We must be a church willing to venture into such fear and speak a word to a generation equally afraid. We must lay down our insecurities and follow our Lord who laid down his life. We must “not be ashamed of the gospel”
Does that sound right? Is the prevailing cultural image of Christianity overwhelming our witness? Does the issue lie with the Church mainly or elsewhere?