I was born between 1980 and 2004, which makes me a Millennial. There are 77.9 million of us. This makes us the largest generation in history (The Boomer Generation (1946-1964) is 75.9 million in number).
Next time you’re at church, look around. Even though Millennials are the largest generation, they’re probably the smallest group represented at your congregation. The Barna Group (interdenominational) found that 59 percent of Millennials who grew up attending church have now left. I don’t have a specific statistic within the Lord’s church, but experience tells me it’s similar.
Something is wrong. Why is my generation leaving the church?
There’s not just one reason. Not only are we the biggest generation, but we are also the most diverse (racially, family background, &c). There are many reasons why we’re leaving.
But I’ll give you what I think is reason #1: the last generation didn’t challenge us enough.
Because we weren’t challenged, we didn’t grow as Christians. Our spiritual roots hardly penetrated the surface.
For whatever reason, we were babied. Maybe our parents & church leaders were lazy, and didn’t take the time to thoroughly teach and challenge us. After all, training requires hard work. Maybe our parents & church leaders underestimated our intelligence and underfed us with the “grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” We are smart, and if our intellectual needs aren’t met inside the church, we look somewhere else. For whatever reason, we didn’t grow because we weren’t challenged.
These are some of the feelings my generation is expressing:
- “My parents & church leaders didn’t prepare me for the real world.”
- “The Bible was not taught clearly or often enough”
- “I didn’t find my purpose.”
- “What I was taught was irrelevant to the world I now live in.”
What I see is, by in large, the last generation failed to make New Testament Christianity appealing to my generation. The last generation failed to follow Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
- We weren’t shown why we should be dedicated followers of Christ, as opposed to putting our faith in something else.
- Our doubts and concerns were minimized and discouraged, instead of being thoroughly addressed and explained.
- Our serious questions, if they were answered at all, were often answered with simple platitudes and insufficient clichés.
- We weren’t taught the Bible. The last generation was good at proof-texting, but failed to demonstrate that the whole of God’s Word was “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). My generation, as a result, has very limited Bible knowledge.
In all, we weren’t challenged. And we are leaving because of it.
Let me add two things:
1. There are exceptions, and I am one of the exceptions. I was challenged and taught right. I have diligent Christian parents who raised me in the Lord. There are many good churches, church leaders, and parents who did challenge my generation. Those Millennials, for the most part, are faithful Christians.
2. The mass exodus of Millennials from the church is not exclusively the last generation’s fault. Millennials are responsible for their own faith. But Proverbs 22:6 means something. And many of us are leaving the church because we weren’t shown that the Lord’s Church is the most precious thing of which to be a part.
How can we keep those that are left? We’ve got to challenge my generation. We must teach them God’s Word. We need to engage their minds and demonstrate that New Testament Christianity is relevant and meaningful. We need to show them that being faithful child of God is the only way to find true success and happiness.
Learn from what we are seeing. Don’t make the mistake of saying, “Oh, people are going to leave.” That kind of logic is one of the reasons my generation is leaving.
 Page 8. The Millennials: Connecting America’s Largest Generation (2011). Thom Rainer & Jess Rainer. B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee.
 Page 23. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church– And Rethinking Faith. Kinnaman, David, and Aly Hawkins. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2011.