In a world where the research says Millennials are opting out of their faith (Pew Research: Religion Among the Millennials), I sit at my computer working on an inter-generational summer video study series for my job. As I sit here and watch these videos on God, His Grace, and how He's working in the world, I can't help but feel a little more connected to Christ. I hear and see all that Christ gave us because of His sacrifice and I can't help but feel uplifted, loved, and important.
Go to google for a moment and type in Young Adult Small groups or Bible Studies. Look through your results and I bet you find less than half or even less than a third of the page linked directly to a church that has a young adult ministry. In the church, they say that children and young adults are the future of the church. But when you enter the field of ministry, you quickly learn that they are not the future, they are the now. It is like saying that the tree I am planting today will be my shade tree in a decade or two, only you don't water it or give it nutrients to thrive and grow.
So in a decade or two, you are confused because your tree is either dying or dead. Just imagine this in the church. We say that youth are the future but we don't help them grow and nourish their faith, so when the future comes, we have a dying or dead church. I can understand why young adults choose to walk away from their faith. I understand it because I can see that we are doing very little to help them grow in their faith.
It is easier to not do something than to act.
It's like when you fill out forms online and you have to put in your email, usually there is a box that is already checked that says I want to receive the emails and promotions....They check that box because most people do not uncheck the box because it is the easiest option. People will almost always choose the path of least resistance, the path that conditions have been set to achieve, almost like a machine. The easiest choice for young adults today is to walk away from their faith.
And that is exactly what happens.
I have a small young adult ministry at the church I work at, and we meet 3 times a year to do service projects. Now, this isn't technically an "active" young adult ministry because we only meet when college students have breaks but I know young adults are back. But when we do gather, I make sure to gather them around something they are passionate about - which in my case is service.
And yet, as a young adult myself, I am looking for something more. I want to be able to dig into the Bible with my peers and talk about real world situations, what it means in light of our faith, and where God is in all of it. I want a faith that wrestles with the real, grown-up challenges of the real world. I want a faith that has a place for my joys and fears and experiences.
I want a faith that engages the world I actually live in.
I find myself frustrated because too often it seems that we are just watching millennials opt out of faith when we could be doing something about it. Continuing to do things the way we have been doing them all along will only lead to the same outcomes - younger adults like myself continuing to leave the church.
So if you are a millennial who is ready to dive into your faith, maybe through a bible study or theology pub, please comment!
I'd love to start a small bible study or conversation group with you!
Kelsey Hlavac is a grounded Christian Millennial working in ministry at a time when most young adults are stepping away from their faith. Practicing ministry in Southeastern Pennsylvania and studying for a M.A. in Children, Youth, and Family ministry, her blog can be found at www.gcmblogspot.blogspot.com/