So, why are Millennials leaving the Church?

Millennials, those 18 to 29 years old, are less likely to attend church than those in previous generations.  One may conclude that this generation is more secular than their parents and grandparents, but a recent report says this assumption is false.   The report uses data gathered by a Pew Research Survey in 2008 and from survey data gathered by the University of Chicago.

Here are some interesting findings:

Millennials are significantly more likely than young adults in earlier generations to say they don’t identify with any religious group. Among Millennials, 26% cite no religious identity, compared with 20% for most members of Generation X (born 1965-1980) at the same ages, and 13% for most Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) at those ages.Worship attendance is sliding steadily, too: 18% of Millennials say they attend worship nearly every week or more often, vs. 21% of Gen Xers when they were in their 20s and 26% of Boomers at those ages.

Yet “by several important measures, Millennials often look a lot like their elders now and earlier generations when they were young,” says Pew senior researcher Greg Smith. Among Millennials:

 •40% say religion is very important in their lives, similar to 39% of Boomers at the same ages.

 •41% report praying daily, like 42% of Gen Xers as young adults.

 •53% are “certain God exists;” 55% of Gen Xers were certain at the same ages.

This sounds very similar to the findings reported in the book Essential Church, which I have blogged about previously here and here.  Younger generations are not attending churches, but it is not because they have stopped believing.  Most leave because they do not feel the church is important to their lives.  There is no real need to go to church.

If it is true that religious belief has not changed significantly through the years, we must ask the question, “Why are young people leaving the church and what can we do to reverse the trend?”  How can we make the church essential to the lives of those who attend so that they will not want to leave?

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4 Responses to So, why are Millennials leaving the Church?

  1. Little Frog says:

    Though I do not suppose to have the total answer, I have some thoughts. 1) Relationships keep people coming. Who notices when you are there or not there? Who cares what happened in your life this week? Who is praying for you?
    2) Seeing changed lives–adults who are going to church faithfully themselves and have a consistent walk with the Lord.
    3) Raising the bar–giving mils something valuable to do in the church; this means true service at a younger age with the guidance of older and more mature Christians–a chance to serve and find the joy in serving. PURPOSE that is what we all need and must find in Christ alone, in our relationship with Him, each other in the body of Christ, and our own individual part in God’s plan.

    Sorry this is so rambling. But, what would you expect from a frog?

  2. Tim Farley says:

    Little Frog: You are beginning to sound like me! 🙂

  3. Hillary says:

    Speaking from a “Millennials” perspective, I’m hungry for genuineness, and I’ve noticed the same in my generation. When something is fake or lacks true genuinity it is a great distaste to me. Follow Christ and obey Him, and your life will truely be different and will make a difference. As one great man once told me, people will know those who’ve spent time in the presence of God because they will smell like Him. I can attest that there are people of my generation who have a deep hunger for God and Truth.

  4. Tim Farley says:


    Thanks for sharing your comments. I agree with you. Genuineness is something that I, speaking as a Gen Xer, have often struggled with as well. Followers of Christ are supposed to be those who are radically changed by the gospel. When there is no significant difference between those within the church and those outside, what is the point?

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