Reading this, it seems as though a “Millennial” is likely to start their day by lighting an incense stick, then eating a kosher breakfast before heading off to yoga class. Seems that generic spirituality is replacing rigid Christian fundamentalism in the 18-29 age group. No surprise whatsoever. Some of the churches are apparently content to wait them out, on the belief that a tour of earthly temptations will eventually result in them returning to the fold, born again hard. That belief is grounded, I believe, in the notion that once a person has had enough negative experiences with drugs and sexual promiscuity, they will be more likely to embrace a philosophy that promises to not only cleanse their spiritual palate, but also provide a path to salvation. For some, that will indeed be the case. I’ve seen it happen with life-long friends. But I don’t think it is likely to occur in large numbers.
A larger group is likely to be turned off by the polarization that occurs when fearful people cling together for support…the us vs them mentality appeals to only a fraction of people over the long term. The internet will certainly affect the status quo, as instant communication isn’t something the church, at least in its current form, is ready to handle. Hypocrisy is a serious offense in this age-group. If you lie to young people, you lose their confidence forever. Knowledge is feared by the church, yet the web is fast-tracking the process of cataloging all human knowledge in digital format. A sermon can be fact-checked, in real time, from the front pew.
There is some mention that the young take a “buffet” approach to spirituality, that is, sampling from an assortment of beliefs and/or practices. I’ve heard many Christians complain about this tack, while they take that same buffet style approach to Christianity itself. That won’t sit well with youngsters, especially those participating in most forms of social media, where there are people of all beliefs integrated everywhere. I’m thinking that the churches may try and co-op the social media movement, perhaps by offering a Christian based social application, called, possibly, Gracebook? (I’m hereby staking claim to that)
I’m not particularly interested in figuring out ways for the church to keep young people engaged. From where I sit, the church seeks to control by containment, rather than act as a guide or support group for one’s growth in a particular religion. If the numbers in that poll hold true…the next wave of 18-29 yr olds will be even less tied to specific religious dogma. So, I’m hopeful.