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Millennial Myths and the Real Reasons People Leave the Church

Attention Christian bloggers and columnists. I have a favor to ask.

Could you please stop speaking of young people as if they’re a homogeneous group with a single opinion on every issue?

I’ve been guilty of it too. Christian writers are notorious for using Barna surveys and Pew polls as licenses to paint various groups of people with broad brushes.

Readers of Rachel Held Evans’ blog, for example, probably have a good chance of coming away from her site thinking that nearly all millennials are progressive on creationism/evolution, homosexuality and other issues. (To be fair, Rachel usually includes some kind of disclaimer about exceptions and about some of the trends applying to other generations. But those points often seem to get lost in the discussion.)

The fact is, millennials disagree among themselves on theology, religious practice and controversial issues as much as any other age group. That’s been my observation anyway.

The big difference I see is that younger people tend to feel less of a need to persuade those who disagree with them, and they’re less likely to break fellowship over a disagreement.

I’m not sure if it’s because of their age (meaning they’ll change as they get older) or if it’s distinctive of Gen-Y and will remain a defining characteristic throughout their lives, but there certainly seems to be more of a “live and let live, think and let think” attitude among this generation. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re of one mind on much of anything.

Besides, if churches with more conservative, traditional views on sexuality, creation/evolution and biblical inerrancy are really such a turnoff to the millennial masses, then why aren’t liberal, mainline congregations teeming with young adults?

Perhaps millennials leave the church for the same reasons many others leave:

1. They don’t feel like they’re encountering God.

Seriously, who wants to leave a place where they’re genuinely experiencing God’s manifest presence?