Millennials are becoming less and less religious.
I left the Church two years ago. After spending most of high school heavily involved in my local Church, I decided to leave due to questions about the faith and some hard times in my personal life — then went off to college. My story isn’t an uncommon one, as more and more young people leave the Church for various reasons. In fact, our generation is the least religiously affiliated in the last century with more than one in four Millennials identifying themselves as atheists. This statistic doesn’t apply to any single belief system or denomination, as all have experienced loss.
However Mainline Protestants and Catholics have taken the biggest hit, recently losing 6.5 percent of their cumulative membership from 2007-2014, while the rate of religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S. grew by 6.7 percent in the same time frame. My goal is not to beat you with a Bible or condescend you, but what I will attempt to convey to you is how simply attending Church can have in incredibly positive effect on your life.
Change the World
As a college student, I hear very often that my fellow students want jobs that have an impact on the world. Everyone wants to make a significant difference in the world like: cleaning up a sidewalk, lifting a community out of poverty, or giving a village halfway across the world access to clean water. But as college ends and careers begin, those opportunities often fade away with mind numbing desk jobs and the monotony of life. One great way to make an impact on your community — and possibly the world — is by getting involved in your local Church.
Take one Sunday morning and attend a service, I guarantee there will be an overwhelming amount of opportunities like: serving in the Church’s soup kitchen, volunteering with underprivileged children, or partaking in a mission trip to Africa to install a well. The chances to make a difference and impact the world in any capacity are endless, and most do not require you to identify with the religion espoused by the Church. If you are looking for ways to make a difference in the world around you, the Church is a great place to start.
Jump on Instagram for a minute. What do you see? Models, celebrities, “perfect” people left and right, interested in one thing only, self-promotion. As young people are constantly bombarded with “perfection” online, it is no wonder that rates of depression have been shown to increase with high use of social media, as it is most often used to compare your life to others. Social media has spawned an increasingly narcissistic generation, intent on looking better rather than truly being better.
Recent studies have shown that a large amount of social media use is directly related to high levels of narcissism, and that Millennials are less likely to participate in their communities and engage in solving social problems as they are distracted with social media. Narcissism is running rampant through our generation, and it is slowly destroying us. Church attendance gives you the chance to experience humility by setting aside whatever persona you have adopted online, and allowing you to be the real you.
The Cincinnati based Church, Crossroads, is currently running a series called “Spark”. In this series, subject matter experts give presentations about their respective fields. Specifically, how they have improved in certain aspects, and how you can use their experiences to better your own life. This is an incredible opportunity to set aside the filter you have added to your life and to better your true self, as you apply the lessons you hear to yourself. In order to break out of the cycle of destructive narcissism that is launching our generation into depression, one must humble oneself, learn from those who know more than them, and cast aside their “perfect” self in favor of their real self.
It is no mystery that Millennials are desperate for relationships. With Tinder, Bumble, POF, Zoosk just being a few — there are too many dating apps to name. What has come of these? Dramatically lower self-esteem among our generation. Developing friendships after college is more difficult than ever, as life can be reduced to our commute to work and the occasional visit to the grocery. Now there are even Tinder-style websites to help you find friends. The hookup culture that our generation has fallen victim to has nearly destroyed our concept of what real relationships looks like.
A Church, however, contains endless opportunities to create relationships with peers, and can thus fill the void. Whether it be striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you, attending a post service meet & greet, or joining a small group that meets weekly to discuss life and solve problems. None of these options require an intense devotion to the religion, yet all offer the opportunity to create real and meaningful relationships with your peers; far more concrete than those created by swiping left or right.
This article could just as easily be called “Why I Need the Church.” I started this article with a brief description of why I left the Church, and everything in between is why I returned: to make a difference in the world, to humble myself and live my real life, to form more meaningful relationships, and most importantly to rebuild my relationship with my God. I hope you will join me.
Cincinnati area Churches:
Special thanks to Chris Freeman, Pastor at Pine Hills Church
Follow this author on Twitter: @ThomasZimmCR