Found this interesting GOOD Infographic "The Rise of Americans With No Religion" on Starbucks Digital Network. Check it out.
I didn't find it surprising that among the unaffiliated, most were not married and most were young adults (18-29). I didn't find it surprising that most lived in the West.
Being a single young adult in the West, I've seen the need to reach out to this group and retain them. It's easy for this group to fall away from the church. There are many contributing factors including: the poor economy partnered with high costs of living, a shift in life priorities, and a cultural and generational perspective chasm that could hinder churches in taking an active role in the faith of this group.
Life is hard everywhere, but I can only testify to what it's like where I am. The poor economy and the high costs of living play a huge factor in putting work before church. You take what work you can and in what hours are given to you. And you don't think twice about arguing because there's a line of people who want your job. Or you don't think twice about arguing because that's how life works. It is what it is.
Where was it that I heard or read that 26 is the new 18? It's two sides of the same coin. In this group of 18-29 years old, there's the side that works hard and the side that lives complacent. We talk about being stuck all the time. Stuck in the same job. Stuck in the same degree. Stuck in life. But the same people work hard too. They just work hard without going anywhere. Or they work hard, period. That's what they do. Work.
It's part of this shift in life priorities. Church and faith takes a back seat to the other things in life, and the complacency doesn't ignite us to fight for our faith or for an open Sunday schedule so we can attend church. It's not just work that has taken precedence. Recreation and leisure time has become more important. Even family time is more important than church.
It's a cultural and generational perspective chasm. "Back in the days," so they say, church time is family time. You go to church as a family, and the Church is part of your family. Today, the two aren't always the same. Today's young adults have a very different cultural and generational perspective than the older adults. Once it might not have been okay to miss church. Today, it's fine. It's understandable. You can grow in faith without going to church. Oh I agree, if you do it correctly. If you can are plugged into a community of faith believers that truly support you and help you in your faith journey, regardless of where you meet. Maybe you don't go to church, but you need to be part of the Church. But I wonder how many actually have that kind of family.
We're a do-it-yourself generation, but we don't always do it right and we don't always know what we're doing. But our culture dictates it's okay. When back then, there was a deep respect for faith leaders, today, what we build ourselves is acceptable. When back then, part of being an adult is growing up in spiritual maturity, today, our hands still need to be held.
It's a chasm that needs a bridge. Older church leaders can't just expect today's young adults to know better when it comes to spiritual matters and/or how to apply it practically. It's a sad truth, but there it is. There's a need for young adults to find a place they belong in the church, with people who won't go around the Truth. Our adulthood looks different than yours. But I charge my peers this. Fight for your faith. Fight against the cultural and generational tide. Be your own person. Take charge of your own faith. Even if you get hurt or if you feel alone, you're ultimately fighting for your relationship with God.