Religious ‘nones’ are not only growing, they’re becoming more secular, by Michael Lipka

Religiously unaffiliated Americans are younger, on average, than the general public to begin with, and the youngest adults in the group – that is, those who have entered adulthood in the last several years – are even less religious than “nones” overall.

By  for the Pew Research Center

hc9utReligious “nones” are not only growing as a share of the U.S. population, but they are becoming more secular over time by a variety of measures, a fact that also is helping to make the U.S. public overall somewhat less religious, according to surveys done as part of our Religious Landscape Study.

The “nones,” a category that includes people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular,” now make up 23% of U.S. adults, up from 16% in 2007. But there is more to the story. To begin with, this group is not uniformly nonreligious. Most of them say they believe in God, and about a third say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives.

At the same time, between the Pew Research Center’s two Religious Landscape Studies – conducted in 2007 and 2014 – we also see consistent evidence that the “nones” are becoming less religious. For example, the share of religious “nones” who say they believe in God, while still a majority, has fallen from 70% to 61% over that seven-year period. Only 27% of “nones” are absolutely certain about God’s existence, down from 36% in 2007. And fully a third of religiously unaffiliated Americans (33%) now say they do not believe in God, up 11 percentage points over that time.

Similar trends are seen on some other key measures of religious engagement. The share of religious “nones” who say they seldom or never pray has risen by 6 points in recent years, and now stands at 62%. And a bigger proportion of the unaffiliated now say religion is not important in their lives (65%) than said this in 2007 (57%).

Data from the survey can be combined with U.S. population figures to estimate the total number of what might be thought of as “nonreligious” Americans at 36.1 million in 2014. (These are adults who are not affiliated with a religious group and who also say religion is not important in their lives.) As of 2007, there were only 21 million “nonreligious” adults who fit this description.

The question of why the “nones” are growing less religious does not have a simple answer. But just as is the case for why “nones” are growing as a share of the U.S. public, generational replacement appears to be playing a role. Religiously unaffiliated Americans are younger, on average, than the general public to begin with, and the youngest adults in the group – that is, those who have entered adulthood in the last several years – are even less religious than “nones” overall.

Fully seven-in-ten of these youngest Millennials (born between 1990 and 1996) with no religious affiliation say religion is not important in their lives. A similar share (70%) also say they seldom or never pray and 42% say they do not believe in God, all bigger percentages than among religious “nones” as a whole.

Continue reading and explore charts

Despite Stigma: Research Points to Maturity of “Boomerang” Millennials, by Corey Magstadt

Think “boomerang” kids are less mature than their peers?  Think again.

“The negativity surrounding popular views of intergenerational co-residence casts a pall on what can be (and usually is) a rewarding experience.” -Alicia Patterson, PhD

by Corey Magstadt

Matthew McConaughey as a 35-year-old who just can’t leave the nest. (“Failure to Launch”: Paramount Pictures)
A recent doctoral dissertation by Dr. Alicia Patterson, PhD,  “Emerging adulthood as a unique stage in Erikson’s psychosocial development theory: Incarnation v. Impudence,” sheds new light on misperceptions on the growing national phenomena of “Boomerang” Kids — adult children living with their parents after college.
Building upon Erickson’s developmental theory, Dr. Patterson theorizes two stages of emerging adulthood – Incarnation and Impudence:

Incarnation is seen when young people accept responsibility (particularly financial responsibility) for their actions and make decisions in regard to, but not as a result of, parental guidance. The primary reason given for returning to the parental home was finances. Simply put, those emerging adults felt they did not have the resources to continue to maintain their residential independence and took advantage of an opportunity to live with their parents and save money.

For impudent emerging adults, there is typically less thought toward the future. They may not consider how expensive it is to maintain a household or live in school housing, instead adding their living expenses into the cost of college student loans that can be paid later. What used to be paid on rent now is paid on student loans that can be paid later.

In my work with emerging adults and their parents, I often use the analogy of running a cross country race versus running on a treadmill.  In both activities you’re body is performing the same motions, but in only one case are you actually getting somewhere. Patterson’s work reveals that “Impudent” boomerang kids are using their parents’ home only to avoid adult responsibilities, whereas the boomerang experience helps others mature into responsible adults.  They might look the same to outside observers, but the Incarnational emerging adults are actually getting somewhere.

A Generally Positive and even Beneficial Experience

One of the key findings in Dr. Patterson’s research is that attitudes toward boomerang children need to be adjusted. She discovered that boomeranging back home does not negatively impact the adult child’s development into adulthood. She writes:

The negativity surrounding popular views of intergenerational coresidence casts a pall on what can be (and usually is) a rewarding experience, which is not only tolerated well, but also desirable in many families.

Research indicated that boomerang children do not suffer developmental setbacks in emerging adulthood due to living in their parental homes. Instead, it is more likely that as emerging adults mature and move toward incarnation, they have a greater likelihood of returning to live with their parents.

Misperceptions and Popular Culture

Despite this, attitudes of parents and emerging adults view boomeranging quite negatively. Emerging adults are haunted by feelings of inadequacy (even though 40% of their peers are in the same situation). Parents feel that they have failed in their role if their children are not successfully launched from the nest immediately. The feeling that boomerang children are dead weight is often unfounded and may place unnecessary stress on the family and the adult child.
Interestingly, Dr. Patterson found that adult children who live at home are often more mature and responsible than those who are attempting to make it on their own. She believes that this is due to the fact that it is not very satisfying to live at home while abdicating decision-making to their parents or refusing to accept responsibility. Those that are in this ‘impudence’ phase find living at home with rules and responsibilities imposed upon them to be quite stressful.
By removing the stigma of young adults living at home, both parents and emerging adults can work together to make the most of this transitional time so they can get the best start possible into their adult life.


Corey Magstadt is the founder and Executive Director of Launch Ministry. He is the author of the You Are Not Alone small group curriculum for parents of struggling young adults. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.


Game of Loans: Democratic Support for Debt-Free College Growing, by Michael Stafford

Game of Loans: Interest is Coming

“The several debt-free proposals out there reflect both widespread concern about the cost of college and the Democrats’ desire to ensure that young voters go to the polls in 2016.” -Terry Hartle, American Council on Education

By Michael Stratford • Inside Higher Education

loans (1)As the idea of debt-free college swirls around the Democratic presidential campaign and some liberal policy circles, the groups that represent colleges and universities are sizing up what it might mean for them.

For the most part, they’re just waiting to see details. So far, debt-free college remains a largely high-minded goal, and the plans from the politicians embracing it have been vague. (see, What Democrats are saying about Debt-Free college).

What is clear, though, is that a shift to debt-free college would likely represent a fundamental change from the current financing system of American higher education.

“It’s potentially a really far-reaching, dramatic reshuffling of higher education,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Council on Education.

Continue reading


The Cross and the Molotov Cocktail, by Christena Cleveland, PhD

As timely as when Christena first spoke out in August 

It’s relatively easy to see the suffering Christ in black men who are already dead and aren’t threatening to hurt anyone. But can you see the suffering Christ in violent responses to injustice? Can you see the cross in the Molotov cocktail?  

by , Ph.D. | Bethel University

Young protestors lighting and preparing to launch a Molotov cocktail at Ferguson police.
Young protestors lighting and preparing to launch a Molotov cocktail at Ferguson police.

Can you see the Imago Dei in these young men? Can you see the suffering Christ in their rage?

This morning at church, the black female preacher said aloud what many of us have been thinking: that Ferguson could have happened in our community. It could still happen in our community. Our north Minneapolis neighborhood is so much like Ferguson, it’s scary. Both communities are lower income and predominantly black. Both have overwhelmingly white police forces. Both have a history of police misconduct toward people in the community, especially lower income black men.  And if you hang around long enough, you’ll feel the rage that many blacks carry in response to long-standing injustice.

Yesterday, my neighbor broke down while we talked about the realities of police brutality toward young black men. Her hands trembled and tears showered her face. Experiencing the unique mixture of rage and sorrow that black moms know well, she described the numerous ways in which the local police have already treated her 8 year old son like an animal.

Based on data from communities all over the U.S., a recent study found that local police officers kill black men nearly two times a week. Beyond this, black men suffer from the crushing indignity of being regularly stopped and frisked,harassed by the police for simply “driving while black”, and generally assumed guilty before proven innocent.

Continue reading

Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist, author, speaker and associate professor of reconciliation studies at Bethel University*.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Barbara and is the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. Christianity Today magazine recently named Christena one of the most influential millennial leaders (see, “33 Under 33“) and JET magazine identified her one as of 5 “online shepherds to follow.” Contact Christena on Facebook, Twitter or her blog

*Disclaimer: Bethel University is also the home of THW senior editor, Gary David Stratton.

Becoming Matthew McConaughey: INTERSTELLAR Reflections on Fatherhood, by Aaron Niequist

How Interstellar is making me rethink work, parenting, and wanting to save the world. 

While he was off trying to save the world, Cooper’s kids had to grow up without a father.  It didn’t matter that he loved them…because he wasn’t there to show them.

by Aaron Niequist 

I still haven’t recovered from one scene in Interstellar.  (Spoiler alert).  When space pilot Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, returns to his ship after their first mission, he discovers that just a few hours on that planet actually equalled 27 years on earth.  So while it was the same day to him, his children at home had lived 27 years.

Watching all he had missed

And so he sat down to watch 27 years of video messages from his kids:  first talking about school homework…then sharing a college story…then introducing his newborn grandchild…and on and on….until finally, his middle-aged son whispers:

“Dad, I know you probably aren’t getting these messages.  We haven’t heard for you in so long.  So this is my last message…”

It was all I could do in that packed movie theater to not lay down on the floor and cry.

Because Cooper missed his kids’ childhoods. While he was off trying to save the world, his kids had to grow up without a father.  It didn’t matter that he loved them…because he wasn’t there to show them.  And by the time he realized his colossal mistake, it was literally too late.


Many of our fathers did this.  And my friends and I are in the season of deciding whether or not we’re going to do the same.  None of us would ever consciously decide to miss our kid’s childhood, of course. Never!  But we are setting the patterns in our 30s that will make the choice for us.

This is especially dangerous for those of us in professional ministry.  As soon as we add “God called me to this work”, we can justify and spiritualize our workaholism.  At least Silicon Valley CEOs can be honest and say they are driven by ambition, success, and power.  We church workers, often driven by the exact same stuff, try to spin it as “humbly paying the price for The Lord’s work.”  No wonder so many pastor’s kids hate the church.  No wonder so many pastor’s wives hate the church.

Friends, we don’t have to do it this way.  There is a better way.  Our kids don’t need us to save the world; they need us to see their world, and join them in it.  They need us to be there.  Not just physically there, exhausted after work, but emotionally present.  WITH them.  Seeing them…hearing them…delighting in them.

This will cost us something.  We may miss out on certain work successes and perks.  We may not reach the peaks of our professional ambitions.  But honestly, are those peaks worth our kid’s childhoods?

There is another way.  And our children desperately need us to find it.  There is still time.

Aaron Niequist is a Chicago-based worship leader, songwriter, curator of A New Liturgy and The Practice. Follow him on his blog , facebook, or twitter @aaronieq.
Click here to listen to Kurt Edward Larson’s interview with Aaron on his podcast Bad Headshots.
Aaron Niequist plays his music for nearly 20,000 people every week. How did that happen? Aaron sits down to discuss his journey, his influences, and the pressures he does or doesn't feel when playing music for the masses. That, and how the faith part of the equation matches up with the creative part. Oh yeah, and  the record gets set straight on Pearl Jam vs Stone Temple Pilots.
Aaron Niequist plays his music for nearly 20,000 people every week. How did that happen? Aaron sits down to discuss his journey, his influences, and the pressures he does or doesn’t feel when playing music for the masses. That, and how the faith part of the equation matches up with the creative part. Oh yeah, and the record gets set straight on Pearl Jam vs Stone Temple Pilots.
 Reposted by author’s permission.

Five Trends Among the Unchurched, by David Kinnaman

More than one-third of America’s adults are secular in belief and practice

While barely half of the unchurched surveyed could name a single favorable impact of the Christian community in America, nearly three-fifths could identify a negative one.

by David Kinnaman • President, The Barna Group

Unchurched facing awaySince 1990, the percentage of unchurched adults in America has risen from 30% to 43% of the population. Even as this segment has grown, has their profile changed?

With the aid of more than two decades of tracking research—a sort of cultural time-lapse photography—Barna Group has discovered real and significant shifts in unchurched attitudes, assumptions, allegiances and behaviors. We’ve identified five trends in our research that are contributing to this increase in the churchless of America.

This new study of the unchurched population comes in conjunction with the release of Churchless, a new book from our veteran researchers George Barna. Churchless draws on more than two decades of tracking research and more than 20 nationwide studies of the unchurched.

1. Secularization Is on the Rise

Nearly two-fifths of the nation’s adult population (38%) now qualifies as post-Christian (measured by 15 different variables related to people’s identity, beliefs and behaviors. Read more about our post-Christian metric here.). That includes 10% of Americans who qualify as highly post-Christian. Another one-quarter is moderately post-Christian (28%). Examined over time, our research shows that the proportion of highly secularized individuals is growing slowly but steadily.
Barna-Unchurched Trends

In other words, in spite of our “Christian” self-descriptions, more than one-third of America’s adults are essentially secular in belief and practice. If nothing else, this helps explain why America has experienced a surge in unchurched people—and presages a continuing rise in this population.

Among the churchless, the proportions skew even more heavily: Overall, more than three-quarters of unchurched adults fall in the heavy-to-moderate range on the secularization scale. That compares to about one out of eight among the churched.

As you might expect, the data show some striking generational differences when it comes to secularization. The pattern is indisputable: The younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is. Nearly half of Millennials (48%) qualify as post-Christian compared to two-fifths of Gen X-ers (40%), one-third of Boomers (35%) and one-quarter of Elders (28%).

2. People Are Less Open to the Idea of Church

people-graphicsBarna research shows that the unchurched are becoming less responsive to churches’ efforts to connect with them. For example, conventional wisdom says the best way to get people to visit a church is to have friends invite them—and the conventional wisdom is right. The churchless we interviewed were most open to “a friend of yours inviting you to attend a local church,” with one-fifth expressing strong interest and nearly half willing to consider a church based on this factor. An invitation from a friend is the top-rated way churches can establish connections with the unchurched…

However, while the conventional wisdom remains true today, the road ahead shows challenging signs…

Continue reading

Download full color infographics.

Is the Internet Killing Christianity? by Christian Piatt

Do we deserve the obsolescence toward which we are so steadily headed?

Although the Internet did not single-handedly put Western Christianity in the state we find ourselves today, it is an important catalyst that galvanized the elements already in place in the culture 

by Christian Piatt • Author of postChristian

PC_cybereden_prNo one reasonably disputes that attendance in Christian churches is in sharp decline. The real lingering question is “why?” which is one of the most important questions I take on in my new book, “postChristian: What’s left? Can we fix it? Do we care?”

Though it’s not solely responsible, the internet – along with the way it changes the way we interrelate, communicate, seek and consume information – is certainly doing its part to contribute to the decline. And it’s not just Church that is feeling the pinch; any hierarchic system in which the institution traditionally has played the role of guard, gatekeeper or mediator is finding their authority challenged.

As for why now, the answer is more complex than any single factor. On the one hand, changing domestic, social and economic systems have caused us to spread out and move around far more than before. The churches, as a result, are no longer social hubs of neighborhoods any more. And along with being social hubs, churches also served as economic engines, as businesspeople networked after worship or over a potluck meal. Now we just use LinkedIn.

There’s also been a substantial shift in cultural perception, such that not going to church no longer holds the same stigma that it used to. Even atheists are coming out of the proverbial closet in greater numbers. And as I suggest in postChristian, lower church attendance doesn’t necessarily correlate to fewer people believing in God. Plenty of skeptics have filled church pews out of a sense of familial or other social obligation.

But beyond these factors, there’s the dramatic shift in how we access and consume ideas and information…

Continue reading

Christian Piatt is the author of “postChristian: What’s Left? Can we fix it? Do we care?” and a blogger on the Patheos Progressive Christian channel. For more information about Christian, visit, or find him on Twitteror Facebook.

See Also:

Seven Reasons Why Young Adults Quit Church, by Christian Piatt

Four More (BIG) Reasons Young Adults Quit Church, by Christian Piatt

Four Reasons I Came Back to Church, by Christian Piatt

Gaming vs. God: Could XBox Make You an Atheist? by Tom Bartlett

Welcome to College (Where Religious Freedom Goes to Die?)

Three perspectives on the recent ‘De-recognition’ of campus Christian fellowships

When colleges and universities enforce “inclusion” by excluding some religious voices, they cripple the spirit of free inquiry and robust debate that should be at the heart of their mission.

Founded at Cambridge University in 1877, University of Michigan students established the first U.S. chapter in 1937. Today, there are I.V. chapters on over 600 U.S. campuses with over 40,000 members, 38% of whom identify themselves as ethnic minorities.
A new threat to campus diversity and inclusivity? Founded at Cambridge University in 1877, University of Michigan students established the first U.S. InterVarsity chapter in 1937. Today, I.V. has chapters on over 600 U.S. campuses with over 40,000 members, 38% of whom identify themselves as ethnic minorities.

Welcome to College (Where religious freedom goes to die)

By Charles C. Haynes, PhD • First Amendment Center

In the Orwellian world of many college and university campuses, all faiths are welcome — but some faiths are more welcome than others.

Just last month, California State University (CSU) “derecognized” InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical student organization with more than 900 chapters at colleges and universities across the country.

In plain English, this means InterVarsity no longer will be a recognized student club at any of the 23 schools in the CSU system.

InterVarsity can still meet on campus — but minus the benefits accorded recognized student organizations, including access to meeting rooms and official university events. Not only will InterVarsity now have a difficult time reaching students, an InterVarsity spokesman estimates that losing these benefits will cost each chapter up to $20,000 annually.

Derecognition of conservative religious groups is happening at many other schools, an exclusionary process that is affecting student organizations representing evangelicals, Mormons, Catholics and others.

Why are colleges and universities — places of higher learning supposedly committed to the free exchange of ideas and beliefs — withdrawing recognition from these groups?

For one simple reason: InterVarsity and other conservative religious clubs require student officers to affirm the faith of the group they lead…

Continue reading

Dr. Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. He writes and speaks extensively on religious liberty and religion in American public life.

InterVarsity ‘De-Recognized’ At California State University Campuses

By Kimberly Winston • Religion News Service

UofM InterVarsity founders, circa 1937
UofM InterVarsity founders, circa 1937

A well-established international Christian student group is being denied recognition at almost two dozen California college campuses because it requires leaders to adhere to Christian beliefs, effectively closing its leadership ranks to non-Christians and gays.

California State University, which has 23 campuses, is “de-recognizing” local chapters of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical Christian group with 860 chapters in the United States. The university system says InterVarsity’s leadership policy conflicts with its state-mandated nondiscrimination policy requiring membership and leadership in all official student groups be open to all.

“For an organization to be recognized, they must sign a general nondiscrimination policy,” said Mike Uhlencamp, director of public affairs for the California State University system. “We have engaged with (InterVarsity) for the better part of a year and informed them they would have to sign a general nondiscrimination statement. They have not.”

InterVarsity, active in the United States since 1947, has been challenged on more than 40 college campuses, but CSU, with 447,000 students, is the largest to ban it so far. Other schools that have challenged InterVarsity include Vanderbilt University, Rollins College and Tufts University…

Continue reading

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, USA Today, The Washington Post, The San Jose Mercury News and Newsweek.

The new college ‘thought police’

By Jay Parini CNN

InteVarsityOklahoma1There has always been a fine line between freedom of speech and the right to practice one’s religion in the way one sees fit. The Founding Fathers struggled over these rights in framing the First Amendment, with Thomas Jefferson calling for “a wall of separation”between church and state — a wall that has become mighty thin in recent years.

But now, the freedom to practice religion on campuses around the country, including at Bowdoin — an elite liberal arts college in Maine — has crashed into anti-discrimination policies, which also have a long and complicated history in this country.

The gist of the story is this: The Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, a conservative religious group that has lived quietly on campus for four decades, is being kicked off the official roster of college-backed groups. Their keys to college buildings have already been confiscated, and the administration won’t recognize them any longer. The problem is that this group, like many groups of its ilk, insist their leaders must adhere to its version of Christian doctrine.

This problem is widespread now, playing out across the country, as at Cal State and Vanderbilt, where Christian groups, including, earlier, a Roman Catholic organization at Vanderbilt, have been forced off-campus because they refuse to allow their leadership to be drawn from people who don’t adhere to their essential tenets. Let me put this plainly: Houston, we have a problem!

I’ve been a college professor for nearly four decades, and I’ve seen problems with the so-called thought police come and go over the years. At the height of the problem in the mid-’80 and ’90s, it was imagined by many — especially those on the right — that universities had become politically correct to the point where any kind of conservative thought was forbidden.

Certainly these were vital years for the advancement of feminist thought in particular, and for the acceptance of gays as full citizens within the academy (full acceptance by the society at large is only now taking hold). For the most part, I always thought the idea of a liberal thought police was nonsense…

Continue reading

Jay Parini, a poet and novelist, teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont. He has just published “Jesus: The Human Face of God,” a biography of Jesus. Follow him on Twitter@JayParini

Chronicle of Higher Education Subscribers may also want to read: Controversy Heats Up Over Exclusionary Groups

As For Me and My House (We Will Break Your Arms), by Ginger M

Part of ongoing series: How Millennials Who Gave up  on Church are Reengaging Community and Redefining Faith

My initial neurotic thought was, “Is this a test to see if we really are a Christian family worthy of their house?”

by Ginger M • Mockingbird

Tacky Cross Joshua

This past Tuesday marked a day of several anniversaries for my family. Twelve years ago, my husband and I started dating. Nine years ago, we got engaged. One year ago, we moved into our current house.

When our realtor got back from taking over our contract to the homeowners last June, she told us that they were the nicest people with whom she’d ever negotiated a contract. They recognized our name on the contract because they attended the same church as my in-laws. They told her that they had been praying specifically for a young, Christian family to buy their house and were so excited it was going to be us.

Our realtor went on to tell us more about them. They kept the autistic children in their congregation during church services, so that the parents could go worship. Bill (name changed) was a contractor; each day he picked up a 75-year-old mentally challenged man who lived down the street and let him ride along on all day to his various jobs. They had kept their house in immaculate shape and spent every Saturday working on their yard.

When we looked at the house and in subsequent visits to the house for inspection, I noticed on the front door a cross with “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) inscribed on it. I really didn’t think all that much of it (because these kind people definitely seemed to be legitimately serving the Lord) until we arrived on moving day and it was still there. While I grew up going to church every Sunday, my family certainly had no bible verses displayed anywhere in our house, especially not on our front door.

Needless to say, I wanted that bible verse cross off my new front door. We arrived on moving day as they were finishing loading up their cars. As they packed their final things, I kept waiting for them to grab the cross.

They left without it.

My initial neurotic thought was “Is this a test to see if we really are a Christian family worthy of their house?”

My second thought was, “Are you really a Christian? You claim to believe the bible! Who cares if you think this cross is tacky, wow, you’re shallow.”

My third thought was “How am I ever going to have anyone over with this thing on my door! My mother would die!”

Continue reading

Ginger is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma… who chooses to write anonymously.

5 Ways Churches Can Better Connect with Millennials, by David Kinnaman

Moving beyond the walls of the church to be the church with the next generation

College students and ‘twentysomethings’ who stay connected to a local church are twice as likely to have had a close personal friendship with an adult Christian who helped them connect faith to life

by David Kinnaman • President, The Barna Group

Startup BusinessMillennial ministry is so important our team decided to revisit some of our most popular research on young adults.

We want to help you learn more about the next generation in order to maximize your efforts to spiritually engage them. Over years of research, one thing remains clear: the relationship between Millennials and the church is shifting.

Although this list isn’t exhaustive, here are five major themes we’ve identified from our research.

1. Make Room for Meaningful Relationships
The first factor that will engage Millennials at church is as simple as it is integral: relationships. When comparing twentysomethings who have remained active in their faith after high school and twentysomethings who have dropped out of church, our research uncovered a significant difference between the two.

Those who stay are twice as likely to have had a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church (59% of those who stayed report such a friendship versus 31% among those who are no longer active).

The same pattern is evident among more intentional relationships such as mentoring—nearly three in ten active Millennials (28% ) had an adult mentor at the church other than their pastor, compared to the just one in ten dropouts (11%) who would say the same.

2. Create Reverse Mentoring Opportunities
The term “reverse mentoring” has come to describe the kind of give and take between young and experienced leaders. Effective ministry to Millennials means helping these young believers discover their own mission in the world, not merely asking them to wait their turn.

Millennials who remain active in church are twice as likely as dropouts to say they served the poor through their church (33% versus 14%). They are also more likely to say they went on a trip that helped expand their thinking (29% versus 16%) and more likely to indicate they had found a cause or issue at church that motivates them (24% versus 10%).

3. Teach Connection Between Vocation & Discipleship
Churches can deepen their connection with Millennials by teaching a more potent theology of vocation, or calling. Many churches seem to leave this kind of vocation-based outcome largely at the door—unless these students show interest in traditional church-based ministry. But what Millennials are seeking goes beyond this. Vocational discipleship is a way to help Millennials connect to the rich history of Christianity with their own unique work God has called them to—whether it’s within the walls of the church or not…

Continue reading

The Great Scythe Hanging Over the Head of the Church, by Ashley Ariel

Part of ongoing series: How Millennials Who Gave up  on Church are Re-engaging Community and Redefining Faith

These doubts and desperate graspings have snowballed into a certain terrible urgency ready to sweep away an entire generation into nihilistic despair. Utterly convinced that this world, this church and this God simply cannot be moved to care.


“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

I have wandering feet. I was born in Orange County, California, but have lived in New England, New York and Minnesota and have traveled through at least forty of the fifty states. Washed up in France once and got air sick all over Bolivia on my sixteenth birthday. Mexico and Canada have been in the mix and to my eyes, the world in its gloriously, mysterious vastness is up next.

I think part of my inclination toward continual movement is because before I turned ten I lived in seven different houses. My track record continued into high school where I attended four different schools and then, finally didn’t graduate from any of them. (The GED is a beautiful thing.)

You might say that wanderlust has been imprinted into my bones, but these movements and bittersweet goodbyes are only a part of my restlessness. The vast majority of my discontent is that ephemeral longing for things yet unseen.

This disconnect grumbles and growls around me, simmering in my soul as I strive to hold in tension the beauty and the pain of this world. A great deal of which was brought about by none other than ding-ding-ding: you guessed it! The church.

But I am being unkind. (I often am). I think it’s an easy excuse to dismiss God on the merit of his people. Which is perhaps untrue and most certainly unfair and yet my history of stepping into the ring with the eternal has not shown me a good God reflected in his people. In fact, I think it is this rumbling, grumblingly tenacious fact that leaves me wrestling with God and holding his church at arm’s length.

I have seen both beautiful and horrible things done in the name of God.  And so much evil precipitated by those claiming to be his people that my natural inclination is to go running in the opposite direction. If God is shown through his people then we are doing a right horrible job of it. Myself included.

I know anger at the church and anger at God is nothing groundbreaking, but it is such a theme in our culture that in my mind it is the continual, piercing shriek of a kettle left too long on the stove and it feels liable to explode at any moment in my thoughts, in my actions and in the swelling dissatisfaction echoing around this great big place called Earth. This is the issue of our generation. This is our sticking point. How the church deals with this anger combined with that creeping, restless, wandering disconnect of so many in our culture is the great scythe hanging over the head of the church.

These issues are hardly new. But in our high-tech, “always on,” manically streaming world that has the capacity to create such joy and such shattering loneliness these niggling worries and doubts and desperate graspings have snowballed into a certain terrible urgency ready to sweep away an entire generation into nihilistic despair. Utterly convinced that this world, this church and this God simply cannot be moved to care.

Where is God in all of this? What is God? Is He the song that bursts into your mind at an opportune moment? Is He the words that spring from your lips in a moment of clarity? Is He the joy set free to dance, skimming along the page when you set pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to pursue creativity? Or is He the hand that helps you up after you’ve fallen down a flight of stairs in the miserable, drizzling rain of a Southern California afternoon after you have undone three surgeries worth of knee injuries? Is He the nonsensical word that you receive from prophets when you go to receive prayer? Or is He in the blank faces inquiring if, “It’s ten percent better,” when you go to get healing? Where is God in all of this? That is the ultimate question, is it not?

Somehow I keep getting pushed back into faith, into churches and steeples and good Christian peoples. I find myself back in Christian institutions that move me into questions and tensions and beauties and heartaches and mouthed niceties and breathed obscenities that make up my bizarre relationship with the human. And yet, it is from these very institutions that claim to represent the risen Lord that I have been dealt the swiftest blows of greatest unkindness. Where is God in all that? I’m afraid I’m not sure what questions I’m even asking anymore or if there are any answers out there to find. Life is a deliriously beautiful struggle and most days it is only the most unflinching, bulldog tenacity that pulls my faith and me over the broken shards of these doubts, clutching with desperate fingers at the razor-tipped edges of my faith…

Continue reading: The Church as the Image of the Invisible 

Author’s Bio: Not quite young and not quite bold. Such unkempt glory roils my soul. I wrestle with art and I wrestle with life. I walk with a theological glint in my eye. These stories are my journey.  Me, alone, throwing darts into the abyss. Here I go, shadow-dancing with the eternal, please join me if you dare.  I am the the Wild/Restless.

Why Helping Millennials Develop as Leaders Requires a New Mindset, by Adam Vaccaro

Part of ongoing series: How Millennials are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community

Organizations need to shift the mindset of what a good manager does away from hitting those departmental goals–which rely on what he calls talent consumption–to graduating employees into better positions–or talent production.

by Adam Vaccaro • Inc.

Millennials want face time with top leaders and the freedom to grow (Photo: Forbes)
Millennials want face time with top leaders and freedom to grow and are more than willing to go elsewhere if you won’t provide in-house opportunities. (Photo: Forbes)

Among the starkest data points in Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report is this one: About two-thirds of companies around the world consider themselves weak in developing millennial leadership. Meanwhile, only 5 percent of companies rated themselves as “excellent” in that field.

The data comes on the heels of other reports showing trouble in leadership development programs. Among those findings: Companies are hurting themselves by failing to differentiate between high-performance and high-potential employees, and though they recognize the importance of talent development they’re not putting their money where their mouth is by investing in development programs.

If You Don’t Develop Them, You’ll Lose Them

Part of the trouble with developing young talent, Deloitte analyst Josh Bersin tells Inc., is that generally speaking, millennials approach their careers very differently than previous generations. They expect to rise fast, and if they can’t, they look for other opportunities.

Bersin’s assertion is backed up by separate data showing that just 23 percent of disengaged high-potential employees aim to stick around at their jobs, and only 55 percent of millennials say they are loyal to their companies (compared to 69 percent of other generations).

This makes it important, Bersin says, for companies to find ways to help young talent see the opportunities within their companies. He offered a few of strategies…

Read how top companies keep their best talent