Generation Y (born in the 1980′s-2000′s) now outnumber Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and 96% of them are on social media.
Let this sink in for a moment.
Think about this in light of the fact that 80% of the people in Generation Y who were brought up in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29-years-old, according to the Barna Group, in a study released in their book”Generation Ex-Christian“. Surely, my generation of believers is at risk. This issue was further explored by David Kinnaman in his book “You Lost Me“. In order for the church to make disciples in the next generation it needs to take this Generation Y exodus seriously. Kinnaman’s research revealed that there are six primary reasons young people are leaving the church (read the full article here, excerpts below):
- Churches seem overprotective. Much of their christian experience feels stifling, fear-based and risk-adverse.
- Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow. Something is lacking in their experience of church.
- Churches come across as antagonistic to science. One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science.
- Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties.
- They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences.
- The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt. Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense.
What is your church going to do about it?
I’m happy to join the many voices crying out about this issue. We can of course have a spirited debate about the validity of these claims, but the stories behind the people leaving the church are very real. Church attendance statistics across the country prove it. Getting these people back to church is going to be no easy task. Some of them will of course return when they are married and have children. But Generation Y on average is marrying and having children much later than any previous generation. Can we afford to wait it out and hope that they will grow out of it? Probably not.
Pastors and church leaders need to wrestle with this research and prayerfully consider how to reach and teach young people in your church today how to be disciples in 21st century culture while they are still there. Reaching those who have already left, is of course, a far more difficult task.
As you consider how to reach both groups, remember, 96% of them are on social media.
Photo compliments of Brian Haider.
Question: How is your church using social media to reach and teach young people?