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3 Reasons Pastors Don't Connect with Millennials

A few troubling studies have been released in the recent weeks depicting the ongoing decline of faith among Millennials in America. While the lack of church attendance and the growth of atheism in the Millennial generation has been widely discussed for some time, the bad news about the lack of faith in Millennials is that we don’t care enough to make a difference.

Every time I post about Millennials. someone asks me who Millennials are, so let me clarify here. Millennials are typically known to be people born between the years 1980 and 2000, and they will be the largest generation in the United States within a few years.

A Pew survey released earlier in June compared data points between 2007 and 2012. In 2007, 83% of Millennials in the U.S. said they never doubted God’s existence, but that number has dropped to now 68% in 2012. The survey’s report also stated, “People younger than 30 are substantially less likely than older people to say prayer is an important part of their lives.”

Focus on the Family released a report showing Millennials to be the least likely generation to say “religious life” was important to them. Only 43% of Millennials said yes, compared to 59% of Boomers.

A nation once founded upon the backs of Puritans and their values of hard work and love of God has been replaced by a pursuit of individual happiness and dissatisfaction with “organized religion.”

There’s no question these findings are troubling. The lack of faith among Millennials is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. In the circles I run in, we’re quick to throw blame on my fellow Millennials for being immature and to place the blame on them for why this country is going down in flames.

I’ve yet to see a single person react positively to these (and many other) reports. But I believe placing blame like this is shortsighted.

The studies of these findings highlight three major problems I see:

Standing on the Sidelines

What’s troubling to me is not the statistics and the studies depicting the lack of faith in Millennials. I’ve lived these statistics with almost all of my friends who lack intentional Christian community, church involvement, and consistent disciplines for engaging their so-called relationship with God. The statistics don’t scare me.

What’s troubling to me is how we’re responding to Millennials. Rather than extending a hand, we’re quick to place blame. It’s a lot easier to stand on the sidelines yelling at the refs than it is to put ourselves in the game.

Rather than being an influence, we watch television every night.

Rather than getting involved, we wait for our pastor’s vision to extend to the next generation first. After all, if he or she isn’t on board with this, why should we be?

At some point, we have to acknowledge that the excuses no longer cover up our lack of care for others.

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Tyler Braun is a pastor at New Harvest Church in Salem, Oregon. He is the author of "Why Holiness Matters: We've Lost Our Way - But We Can Find it Again" (Moody).