For a long time, there’s been an understood truism among American Christians about young people who drift from religion and church attendance: they’ll be back. Historically, American Christians have tended to get a little less devoted in their twenties, during the upheaval of college, the job hunt and the general chaos of figuring your life out. But after marriage and parenthood, these people tend to come back to church, longing for a little more stability.
That was the case for generations, but new studies suggest that such times may be behind us. A new study from the American Enterprise Institute says millennials who drift from religion are far less inclined to come back than past generations were.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is the growing sense among millennials that traditional institutions of Christianity simply don’t have much to offer. Millennials are far more likely than older generations to believe the American church is hypocritical and judgmental. And even millennials who consider themselves Christians often struggle to find churches where they feel their beliefs and principles are reflected.
There’s also marriage, which looks very different for millennials than it did for their parents. Millennials are more likely to be part of an interfaith marriage than previous generations, making for more compromise on things like church attendance.
And finally, there is the religious identities of millennials’ parents. Studies suggest that Boomers and Gen Xers often didn’t prioritize religion in their parenting, raising millennials with a much looser identification to their faith than they themselves were raised. In other words, the millennial tide away from devotion started long before millennials actually began leaving the church.
Millennials are still young, and their trajectory isn’t set in stone. But it is clear that they are not abiding by past rhythms of religious identification.
First published 12.12.19: https://relevantmagazine.com/culture/study-millennials-who-leave-christianity-may-not-come-back/
Help Keep The Faith deliver hope to global Christians during the coronavirus period
For 15 years, Keep The Faith's team of volunteers have provided our Christian journalism for free, and kept it open for everyone.
The coronavirus disease is affecting all global communities. Christians and people of faith all over the world are looking to our faith for answers during these troubling times. As more people fall ill with Covid-19 or go into self-quarantine over the next few days, we expect our visitors to grow even further.
Your gifts are so important to our future, and any donation will help. 100% of your gifts will be used to continue providing our services for free to help those who are in need of God's Word during these difficult times.
So please, continue to support us and everyone looking for hope. Partner with us in this journey together.