Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

When it comes to responding to the Millennial Exodus, churches rarely know how to respond.  Many churches seek answers from bloggers who seem obsessed with talking about tight pants and fog machines.

Atheist from Flickr via Wylio

© 2013 JouWatch, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

It is crucial that the church stop listening to themselves, and start listening to millennials who have left.  EA Resources actually is willing to pay for millennials who will take the time to express why they have left the church.  If you know someone who is willing to share, please tag them in article, and they can contact me at gdavid@earesources.org.

Here is an article that encourages us to listen to Atheists about why they left in order to strengthen the church.  Happy reading –

“Church became all about ceremony, handholding, and kumbaya,” Phil said with a look of disgust. “I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible.” 

I have known a lot of atheists. The late Christopher Hitchens was a friend with whom I debated, road tripped, and even had a lengthy private Bible study.

Here is the full article – LINK.

What do you think about these points?

  • They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions.
  • They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.
  • Ages 14-17 were decisive.
  • The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one.
  • The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism.

As millennials leave the church, we must understand that their exit is rarely something that comes without thought or cost.  Their decision to embrace unbelief is a journey that has stretched their social, emotional and mental stamina.

If Dr. Boyd can assist your community in how to minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

I came across a neat resource put out by the Faith Communities Today national surveys of American congregations.  The resource is produced by Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Director of the Center for Analytics, Research and Data in the United Church of Christ.

Click here to see the full resource.

Here were two interesting quotes from the paper.

  • In general, congregations that increased young adult participation over the last three years gained an average of nearly 20 young adults per congregation (with an increase of five young adults being the most frequent number reported).
  • Other characteristics of critical mass young adult congregations include higher likelihoods that the majority of regularly participating adults are theologically conservative the congregation has higher percentages of children and youth, and the congregation prioritizes engaging young adults.

If you want to attract emerging adults.  You must prioritize emerging adults.  Rather than giving lip-service to reaching young adults, the priorities of your church are revealed through your website and other forms of communications, budget, and staffing.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is the founder of the EA Network.  If he can help you and your community ministry to the emerging adults in your community, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

Young People Are Leading the Way. Will The Church Follow?

I read this article over the weekend, and wanted to share it with the EA Network.  The title of the article is fascinates me.  Instead of assuming that we ask emerging adults to lead the church, we should assume that they are already leading the church.  We should then ask the question, “Where are they leading us?”

The answer is simply that many of them are leaving established religious organizations.  There is plenty of research to support this fact – which I often refer to the Millennial Exodus.  If you want to read about the Millennial Exodus, and read stories of why they are leaving, search the website under Millennial Exodus.

Here is the article.

Most of the studies I have seen on young adults and faith indicate that young people are leaving the church in record numbers. According to the source, anywhere from 60-70% of young people drop out of church in their college years. Almost weekly another article surfaces explaining the latest reasons young people are leaving churches. Surely there is a lot to lament here, but I’m not sure these doomsday reports tell the full story.

Click here for the rest of the story.

 

 

A New Swag Bag for Seniors: Rethinking the Church Graduation Rite of Passage

Some of my work was just released by Youth Specialties.  Please check it out.

Spring is here, and many churches are set to once again launch a group of seniors. Parties will be hosted.  Pictures will be shown. Bibles will be distributed. Graduation banquets will be held. As someone who has led many of these events, here is my revised list of what I believe seniors should be given as they leave.

Here is the rest of the article.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, you can contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

Hosting a Meaningful Graduation Party: 8 Short and Sweet Pieces of Advice

© 2007 Andrew Schwegler, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

1.  Talk about Expectations with your Child.

Discuss what you both feel is important for the party.  I know some graduates chose a family vacation rather than a graduation party.  If you choose to have a party, speak frankly about what you most want from an event.  While reflecting on her experiences, one mother writes, “For me, great food and a warm welcome for each guest is of the utmost important.”  Knowing what you, your spouse, and your child desire is crucial to a successful party.

2.  Establish graduation as a rite of passage in their lives and yours.

Western society has lost the significance of rites of passage in an individual’s life.  Graduating from high school is a time to celebrate, but it should be so more.  “Experiencing a rite of passage allows young people to let go of childlike behavior and to begin taking on adult responsibilities and their accompanying consequences.”  (Rite of Passage Parenting)  Find a time during this season of life when you can incorporate a “rite of passage” with your child.

3.  Simplify everything.

Parties tend  to snowball over time; therefore, start simple, and stick to the plan.  This time may not be the best opportunity to plan renovations to your home.  If you attend many open houses, you will be tempted to add to the menu, the decorations, or invitation list.  I encourage you to fight conformity, and simply design your party uniquely around your family.  One parent writes, “Keep it simple – don’t buy into the “over the top” parties.  Do only those things that will honor your student and don’t try to compete to meet the standards set by other graduation parties.”

4.  Be selective in your invites.

In today’s world of social media invitations, people sometimes feel as if they have to invite everyone they know rather than who they actually want to invite.  Many parents and students feel overwhelmed by the crowd of people that parade through in a few short hours.  If numbers are not important, restrict your party to just close family and friends.  This allows more time to actually connect than simply up-dating them on what you are doing fall.

5.  Write down and record memories.

© 2004 Mat_the_W, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

As with any party, you and your child will be overwhelmed with people arriving, giving gifts, talking, and then leaving.  It is important to have a way to record memories from the day whether it is someone taking videos, pictures, or a guest book.

6.  Take time to reflect.

Many parents and students feel social pressure to not only host a party, but to attend an endless season of party jumping.  In the midst of this hectic time, set aside quite time as a family to reflect on the changes that are occurring in your family.

7.  Start planning early.

© 2004 Mat_the_W, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

If you need to rent equipment (tables and chairs), then you will need to call early.  Borrowing from friends and neighbors will take some time.  As with any period of change, you should expect your emotions and stress level to be elevated in you and your child.  The sooner you start to plan, the easier it will be to make decisions and stay under budget.

8.  Get help before, after, and during the Party.

One parents expresses how, “It is NOT possible to do it all on your own.”   “Have a close friend or family member take care of replenishing food and taking care of all kitchen responsibilities.  This frees the parents up to be able to visit.”  The work required for a party takes many hands, so make sure that you ask your community to help.

david in hat - blackDr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches for the Emerging Adult years.

Resources:

Deeply to the Bone, Donald Grimes

Rite of Passage Parenting, Walker Moore

As more people claim to be “spiritual” more than religious, what exactly does that mean?

While in Johnson City, Tennessee, I began a conversation with a shuttle driver named Jeff.  He asked me why I was in town.  I explained I was speaking at a church, and said that he “hoped it was full of the Spirit.” 

I began asking him about his studies.  Jeff shared about his major, and what he wanted to do when he was done with college.  He was more than eager to talk about his life experiences, and how they had shaped him.  He was extremely articulate, and well-read in various philosophies. 

At some point during the conversation, I asked Jeff if he was religious.  He began by stating that his father was Jewish, and that his mother was Catholic, but neither of his parents actively participated in their faith.  He was not a believer in either religion, but stated that he was indeed spiritual. 

I then asked Jeff what “spiritual” meant to him.  Rather than put words to it, he gave me an example.  He stated that the evening before, there had been a banquet at the hotel.  After the event, there were left-over sandwiches.  He took these extra sandwiches and took them to people who were in need.  He stated that after this experience, he felt so good. 

I asked then how that was spiritual.  Jeff thought about it, and simply said that it had to do with the emotion associated with the action that he had done.  His emotional experience (due to his moral behavior), was the foundation of his recent spirituality. 

Jeff did not mention a belief in any god, or in anything supernatural. 

It has been stated that Millennials are spiritual, but not religious. 

A survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. (Source)

Often little definition is given to this expression “spiritual.”  For someone who has grown up in the church, I often have understood the term to mean that they believed in some form of spiritual reality that usually contained a concept of God, but they were not interested in organized religion.  After meeting Jeff, my understanding of “spiritual, but not religious” has changed.

Many emerging adults who have not had a connection with a religious belief system do not even have a concept of the word spiritual.  The word spiritual is a word that is often limited to those with a religious background.

Here is what I learned from Jeff.

We should avoid more than our Christian clichés.  While Christian platitudes are painful to even to church-attenders, the use of words like spiritual immediately highlight the distance between us.  Evangelism tools such as The Four Spiritual Laws by Bill Bright, assume that the person you are sharing with has a general concept of religion.  As more emerging adults in the United States have been raised without a Christian worldview, the vocabulary that we use in dialogue with them might leave both sides confused.

Ask questions.  Emerging adults have no problem entering into dialogue with others about faith or religious beliefs.  From their perspective, diversity brings beauty to our world, and strength to our communities.  Dialogue can also help them learn and understand the viewpoints of others.

Spiritual, but not religious could refer to anything from a devout Christ-follower who avoids churches to someone like Jeff who simply feels good as he reflects on his own moral behavior.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip parents and churches to minister to the needs of emerging adults.  He is also the founder of the EA Network, a group of individuals seeking to work together to understand and minister to emerging adults.  If Dr. Boyd can equip your community to reach emerging adults, contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

Financing College – Taking Time to Laugh

Financing college can be difficult and stressful.  If you are in the midst of putting together a plan to finance an education, take some time to laugh.  Here is a great clip from the Middle, a show that is a must-watch for parents of emerging adults.

Check out this clip from the Middle.

Here are some additional articles that talk about finances.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

“Adulting” Seminars – for emerging adults in your community

“Adulting” Schools have been active for a couple of years now.  If they are news to you, here is an article that can introduce you to the topic.  These events and schools are more about folding a sheet, but also build confidence and community for emerging adults.

I believe that churches and camps could offer “Adulting” Schools or Seminars for emerging adults – not in a demeaning way, but in a way to clarify and confirm their adulthood.

At EA Resources, we teach there is a biblical framework for what it means to be an adult.  The developmental markers of adulthood are to:  Discover Vocation, Establish Autonomy, and Develop Community.

Besides these main seminars, your church could offer breakout sessions on finances, career connections, cooking, or house-cleaning.

Here is a possible schedule:

             8:30   Registration – Welcome
              9:00-10:00 Directions to Adulthood:  Discover Vocation
             10:15-11:00 Seminar Sessions
              11:15- 12:15 Directions to Adulthood:  Establish Autonomy
              12:30-1:30 Lunch
               1:30 – 2:15   Seminar Sessions
                2:30 – 3:30   Directions to Adulthood:  Develop Community
               3:45 – 4:30   Seminar Sessions

If you are interested in discussing, how your community could host an Adulting Seminar, please contact Dr. Boyd at gdavid@earesources.org.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

“Adulting” Schools – for Emerging Adults

“Adulting” almost became the international word of the years.  Some schools have popped over the country in order to teach emerging adults how to be an adult.  I believe churches could also offer “adulting” seminars and conferences.  If your community is interested, you can contact me at gdavid@earesources.org.

It’s not that hard to figure out how to fold a fitted sheet.
Google it and you’ll get more than 2 million results. There are more than 35,000 results on YouTube, with the top video clocking more than 15 million views.
But it is one of those basic life skills that, along with cooking dinner, figuring out health insurance or changing a flat tire, falls within the world of “adulting” — a self-deprecating term to describe the vast universe of things millennials should know how to do but probably don’t. The Adulting School says it’s not their fault, and wants to help them figure it out.

Here is the rest of the article. 

Bad News for low-income College Students

Federal financial support for low-income undergraduate students — in the form of Pell Grants will be reduced by 3.9 billion dollars if President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 is approved by Congress.

Here is the full article.

Pell Grants is money for college that does not need repaid, and goes to families whose income is less than 40k.  The maximum amount of the gift is $5,920, and many of the recipients have a household income less than 20k.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to minister to the needs of emerging adults.