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.

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.

 

 

Church Plants and Emerging Adults

I came across an article about how church plants are reaching emerging adults.

Sunday services at Five14 Church begin loud.

Worshippers are greeted into with heavy bass and synth beats. The morning starts off with a game, delivered by a standup comedian. At the nondenominational New Albany church, this is gospel.

Read the full article.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The number of adults in the U.S. who say they believe in God or regularly attend a religious service has been on the decline for years nationwide, but is on the rise in Ohio. 
  • They get a lot of explorers – people just looking for a deeper meaning to life, but who are not sure where to find it.
  • “I think if they decided to bring a really aggressive anti-LGBT, anti-self-expression, that might be an issue,” Brunsman says. (Someone who lives in the local community’s view of the new church.)
  • “[The Church] needs to be incarnate on the Internet.”

Other characteristics of this church includes – a relaxed, authentic atmosphere, loud and up-beat music, and an understanding that attenders may not be knowledgeable of Christianity. While these characteristics are not essential for attracting emerging adults, these communities have found a winning recipe for reversing the Millennial Exodus.

What do you think attracts emerging adults to a spiritual community?

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

The Millennial Exodus in Scotland

The steady decline of Church of Scotland membership to some 360,000 persons is well documented. It is therefore no surprise that linkages, closures and reduction in number from the prevailing 46 presbyteries are envisaged. However, the main challenge is the alarming lack of young adults attending church. In many congregations perhaps 70 per cent will be 60 years of age and more. It is no longer one generation missing, but two. This is the emergency which must be addressed even before the present structure of presbyteries is considered. Continue reading

The Millennial Exodus and the Historic black church

I read an interesting article over the weekend, and I wanted to share with you.

Here is the Link.

Members of Jubilee Baptist worship during a recent

Photo: CINDY HOSEA/Staff

 

While the article is not based on solid research, it does have some interesting points.  Some that I do not agree with, and some that I do:

  1.  “Parents have a responsibility to tell their children, to make sure that church is not an elective. It is a must.”
  2. “They’re important to the life of the ministry; they’re the next generation.”
  3. “they don’t see the church as relevant and so as a result, there’s been a falling away.”
  4. “Leaders have to let youth know the church is still relevant.”
  5. “I think my generation’s parenting has not given that demand of youth going to church.”
  6. “Churches spend too much time trying to be all things to all people and trying to become wealthy megachurches.”

What comments from the list do you disagree with?

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

 

Allowing Your Adolescents to Grow Up – Youth Specialties Blog

We’re excited to have Dr. G David Boyd as one of our NYWC speakers. This blog post is a great start to the conversations he’ll be navigating in his seminar: DISCIPLESHIP BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL: THE SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OF EMERGING ADULTSCheck out more information HERE

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My research among emerging adults reveals that they often feel they aren’t treated as adults within the church community.  While being called “Davy” as a child never bothered me, when I left for college, I hoped to leave that name behind.  Sometimes, the easiest way for emerging adults to be treated like an adult is to leave their old world behind.

emerging adults in the church

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, developed a theory of social selves which posits that an individual acts differently based upon the social situation and the expectations placed upon them.  In some social contexts, emerging adults are expected to be an adult, while in other contexts, they are treated like a child.  As emerging adults mature, our communication, actions, and words must display our support for their ongoing development.

Here are three ways you can allow your students to grow up:

Read the rest of my post here!

I am thankful for Youth Specialties, and for allowing me to contribute to the blog, and to the National Youth Workers Convention 2016.

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the managing director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to engage emerging adults. He is also the founder of the EA Network, a community of people who serve and love emerging adults.

 

The Millennial Exodus – Caleb’s Story

(This is part of a series written by Millennials who have either left or stuck with the church.  If you are a Millennial and would like to submit your work for publication, you will earn $100.  Here is the link.  To read more stories by Millennials search Millennial Exodus.  If you would like to fund our research among emerging adults, click here.)

Here is Caleb’s story.

I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember.  My first childhood memories are of vacation bible school and Sunday family lunches.  The church has been a part of me since I was born, and its presence in my life grew and grew throughout the years.  I experienced the Holy Spirit countless times during my youth years at church camp and on mission trips, but after I graduated high school, my faith took a turn for the worse.

Make no mistake; during my first year of college I was still a Christian, but even I knew that I was lukewarm at best.  I stopped attending church, and with that decision, my faith began to slip away from me.  After almost an entire year of ignoring God, I knew I had to take action.

I found a group of Christians student through a local campus ministry who put God first and helped me regain my relationship with God.  I immediately felt overwhelmed by the sincerity and generosity these believers displayed to me.  As I began to involve myself with this community, I built strong and faithful friendships.  This change of community also led me to devote more of my time and energy to my faith.

I stuck with the church because when I lived my life without it, I hated what I saw.

My desires were earthly, my relationships were shallow, and my spirit was starved.  In retrospect, I understood how truly lonely and apathetic I felt without the body of Christ.  I had taken for granted the bond of Christian fellowship which I enjoyed my entire childhood.  This fellowship displayed through the sincere relationships and genuine kindness of a church family drew me back into the arms of my Father. 

After almost two years, I thank God for allowing me to know His presence is in my life, and for accepting me back into His loving family.  I pray that if I come upon someone going through the same struggles, that I can provide the help others so graciously provided to me.

caleb-norris-writerCaleb Norris is a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a major in business management.  Caleb was born and raised in Winchester, Tennessee and is the oldest of three children.  In his spare time, Caleb enjoys reading, fishing, and playing guitar.  Please pray for Caleb as he continues his walk with Christ throughout his life.

 

 

Preaching to your Adult Child – Here is Their Perspective.

Image from page 336 of "The history of Methodism" (1902) from Flickr via Wylio

© 1902 Internet Archive Book Images, Flickr | PD | via Wylio

If you are a parent, then there are times when your child feels as if you are preaching at them.  If you don’t know your favorite topics, just ask them (if you are brave).

This article written by an emerging adult explains the thought process for your child as you discuss issues that you don’t agree upon – including faith.  While this article may not reflect the relationship between you and your child, there is much for parents to learn from this writer’s perspective.

Within five minutes of starting the hour-long car ride, she asked me if I wanted to explain my theological beliefs to her.

Awkward.

At this point, I had three options…

Read the entire article – HERE.

I wanted to summarize the points, but found too much that I wanted my readers to see and feel.  But I do want to highlight the author’s main conclusion:

I ask ‘when the preaching will end’ because with conservatives I consistently feel that I am being preached at by people who don’t care to understand me as a person, while with liberals I feel that I am becoming a part of a movement which is built on compassion and mutual understanding.

Within our homes, churches, and the public square – communication is key.  

Most Christians ignore the role of the Holy Spirit, and focus on conversion tactics when speaking with those outside the church – including their children.  Dialogue and diversity are welcome in today’s culture, but when someone in a conversation feels the need to be right – it will turn people from the beauty of the gospel.

This author is a follower of Jesus who was raised in an evangelical home.  Unfortunately, this emerging adult found the “extra baggage” of present-day Evangelical culture (which I use to refer to anything not required by the original tenants of the movement) to be completely overpowering to their spiritual journey.  I believe that some emerging adults find these beliefs so restrictive that they abandon the faith completely.

Related Links:

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the managing director of EA Resources – a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to engage emerging adults.  He is also the founder of the EA Network – a community of people who serve and love emerging adults.

 

 

Could young adults impact their denomination? Is it Possible?

I hope that the answer is yes.  I understand that the leadership boards of almost every single denomination in America is filled with babyboomers who have “earned their stripes” and “understand the real world.”  I understand the challenges that young men and women face before being heard in the church. (Read more – here.)

If we want to change the Millennial Exodus, then we need to address the problem at every level.

  • There is a need to minister to the individual needs of emerging adults.
  • There is a need to provide resources and training to church leadership to reach and minister to emerging adults.
  • There is a need for denominations to lead the way through allowing young adults to speak up and speak out.

Here is a story of one group who is seeking to bring transformation to their denomination.

I recently interviewed Mark Hilbelink, who leads a group of people who have named themselves YALT – which stands for Young Adult Leadership Taskforce.  YALT serves within the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America.  The YALT team originally formed under the Leadership Development Department of the denomination, but now has become its own entity.

Image result for Mark Hilbelink

Mark Hilbelink

The leadership of YALT are not paid by denomination, but the denomination provides paid staff support for the movement.  The team is composed by various pastors and bloggers who want to influence the denomination (For example – Hilbelink pastors a church in Texas).

When the team originally formed, they planned events and conferences, but found that this was an expensive, and ineffective way to impact their denomination.  More recently, YALT has focused on their on-line presence.  You can find their Facebook profile and a website.

As for their impact within the denomination, Mark states that he believes that YALT seeks to get people on board with the mission to reach young adults, and through influencing denominational events.

Mark is often asked why Millennials are leaving the church, but Mark believes (like myself), that there is not a singular reason why Millennials are leaving.  He believes that their lack of attachment to the local church is due to their life phase.  Millennials are transient which makes it difficult to connect with community.  He believes that what overall truly attracts Millennials is not a hip church, but one that is healthy.

Mark shares that sometimes church leadership “uses us [the YALT team] to keep Millennials, but not to bring change to our church.”  Marks believes that while the church may not need to change its doctrine or practices, change is needed in order to stay relevant in today’s world.

If you have an interest in launching a group to influence your denomination, EA Resources can help.  Contact us at gdavid@earesources.org.

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing director of EA Resources.  He is also the founder of the EA Network, a Network that seeks to equip the parents and churches to meet the needs of emerging adults.

The Megachurch Movement – Will the bubble burst?

The religious beliefs of Millennials are certainly different than the generations that came before them.  We know that Many Millennials are leaving the church.     As Millennials pull out of the church, will Megachurches falter, or will they alone stand after the Millennial Exodus?

Skye Jethani discusses how Millennials distrust large institutions, and how their beliefs will cause the fall of megachurches.  (We actually attended the same seminary around the same time!)

Check out this Video.

skye jethani

Skye predicts that megachurches will not feel the affect due to the strength and support of Babyboomers, but as they age – the bubble will eventually burst.

Here are areas to explore:

1.  Do we have proof that Millennials are really avoiding megachurches in particular?  We are currently lacking in statistics that prove this – and this is why more research needs to be done.

2.  We must understand that while Millennials might distrust institutions, Millennials who are religious today, more than likely grew up in a megachurch environment.  Their religious history (with large youth groups, polished presentations, and hip worship bands) may keep them seeking a large church experience.

3.  The main thing to remember is that God is not dependent on the megachurch movement, or any faith movement that we notice in our culture.  The future of His Church is not at risk.

07TCSA_OB-2-46Skye is ordained in the Christian & Missionary Alliance, a Protestant denomination established in 1887.  He earned a Masters of Divinity degree in 2001 from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.