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Millennials Are Killing an ‘Industry’ That Actually Needs to Die

Later-in-life marriages can be more challenging for that reason, Skeldon says. “I’m concerned about the side effects for a generation who was allowed to be selfish for a longer period of time than previous generations, and has now been thrust into a posture of seeking the welfare of others first.”

Dave Willis, co-author with his wife, Ashley, of several books about marriage, says Millennials unfairly receive blame for being indifferent toward marriage. Willis told ChurchLeaders, “Many of these Millennials who now have little interest in marriage grew up in homes and in churches where examples of healthy, vibrant, loving marriages were hard to find,” he says. “These kids looked at their parents and leaders and often saw examples of marriage that made the institution…look unappealing. Millennials aren’t avoiding marriage simply because they fear divorce; many of them are avoiding marriage because they’re terrified of having a lifeless marriage that looks like what their own parents had.”

To raise children who value marriage, Willis advises parents to “strive to have the kind of marriage that makes your children excited to be married someday. Through your imperfect-but-authentic example, show them that a loving, thriving marriage is possible. If they see it in your home, they won’t want to settle for mere cohabitation when they grow up. They’ll want the real thing. They’ll want what you showed them.”

Marriage trends among Millennials have major implications for churches and their ministries, according to experts. Outreach to young adults has been burgeoning, Skeldon says, now that churches are paying more attention to singles and their needs. He advises churches to “recognize that there’s a life stage between college student and married couple.” It’s a growing category of people who are “neither trying to figure out their major in college nor trying to figure out their baby’s name.”

Many Millennials are “just trying to lean into their profession while having some fun along the way,” Skeldon says. “In a way, they’re still searching for purpose, and this is a great arena for the church to guide this generation.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 28 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.