July 27th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Why millennials are leaving the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates - edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions - Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. - precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Opinion

soundoff (9,864 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Atheists search for truth just as Hindus and Christians and Muslims and Pagans. We all find paradigms that speak to our pasts, our interests, our passions, and our goals. Problems arise when one's ego dominates their search for truth, insisting that they have, once and for all, determined "the ultimate truth" within their current "system." This dominance of ego then convinces this person to view all others outside of their system who don't hold those views as simple, uneducated, blind, or even stupid or evil. It allows that person to hurl hatred against someone they don't even know and even against systems they know nothing about (only what they think they know), spewing generalities and stereotypes. In this there are no innocents – all sides have their paragons and all sides have their propogandists. It is a self-perpetuating cycle, especially when each side takes attempts to understand the other as an attack or persecution. It won't end until we get back to honest truth-seeking and, as the author stated, searching for answers that don't necessarily have predetermined answers and actually grappling with that together. As fellow human beings.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Colin

    Perhaps the three greatest movements in history, which, in the cu.mulative, mark the emergence of the Western World from the Dark Ages are the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. All three are defined by their rejection of religion and religious dogma in favor of science, free thought and reason.

    If religion (as opposed to morality) was a positive thing, would we not expect movements TOWARD greater religiosity to be predominant in World history and viewed in a positive light?

    No, this is a very positive thing. Hopefully we atheists can continue to use logic and reason to put our feet squarely on the throat of Christianity in the USA. We have to continue to oppose ignorance, dogma and superst.ition at every opportunity. It is a battle we are certain to win.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Brian

      Does Christianity necessarily lie in direct opposition to logic and reason?

      July 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
      • DaveLake


        July 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • AssertiveFluttershy


        July 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Colin


      July 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
      • Brian

        Perhaps within Evangelicalism and the true literalists. But they alone don't define Christianity (as much as they may wish they did). There are many undisputedly good scientists and scholars who have personal faith beliefs (not just Christianity, but Dr. Francis Collins is an example of a world-renowned scientist who is also an outspoken Christian) and find no logical contradiction to it.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • devin

      " It is a battle we are certain to win". Perhaps you may want to increase your numbers by more than 2 % of the world population before you claim victory.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  3. Russ

    @ Rachel Held Evans:
    Props for recognizing the real issue is an unadulterated pointing to Jesus.
    Complete fail for choosing the Jesus of culture over the Jesus of Scripture.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • JR

      That's where many organized churchs fail; that's why many millennials are saying goodbye and finding Jesus their own way.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • Russ

        @ JR:
        1) what you & Rachel Held Evans have conveniently forgotten is that for the last 50+ years, the mainline churches who have followed her advice have been dying at a record clip. Lookup the stats.

        No, the entire point of the faith is to encounter the *living* God who is not merely our own dead, self-projection.

        2) Jesus bluntly states that we cannot find our *OWN way.* HE is the way.
        It's intrinsic to the central tenets of the faith. To lose that IS to lose Christianity.

        Consider: who is God if you dictate the terms to Him?

        July 28, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  4. Maani

    Ms. Evans:

    I'm not sure if you're aware, but there is already a "group" that thinks as you do. It is called "Red-Letter Christians," and was co-founded by Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners and pastor/author Tony Campolo. To learn more, simply go to redletterchristians with an .org suffix.


    July 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  5. erikaali

    I have to say I really enjoyed this article. As a millennial myself, I have found myself getting further and further away from organized Christianity. When I read the bible on my own, it moves me deeply, but church always seems to cheapen the experience. Maybe I just haven't found the right one, but I always wonder where the church is that focus less on gay marriage and more on children starving next door. I wonder where the church is that cares less about a new state-of-the-art building, complete with a latte stand and instead puts that money to make sure that people aren't dying from sickness. My mom recently went to a bible study where the subject of gays came up and I had to chuckle when she told me the story the irony was so rich because the whole group basically walked over picked up a stone and chucked it at Mary Magdalene. This is what bothers me, the hypocrisy of most churches, no matter how hip they make worship.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "When I read the bible on my own, it moves me deeply,"
      what do you think when you read the bible and see how it promotes slavery throughout? even jesus said to beat disobedient slaves "with many stripes." what do you think when the bible gives commands to kill g.ays? to kill non-virgin brides? to kill disobedient children?

      July 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
      • Mark Knox

        Bootyfunk- the problem with arguments like yours is that the people you are arguing with have actually read the Bible, whereas you are simply making half-assed assumptions and taking statements out of context. Why don't you educate yourself instead of just regurgitating Atheist herd-think?

        July 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Steve

          Right, the "context" argument. These are always weak rationalizations for intolerable behaviour, excuses excuses. I know a religious person in my family who says the man who was executed for picking up sticks on the sabbath must have had a bad heart condition. Does it say that in the scripture. No. They have to add things to this perfect book to make things fit, that is not the sign of a perfect book. Similarly, women cannot speak in church according to paul due to some context issue that was not stated in the scripture, we just made it up to make it seem rational. Yeah ok. Please Mark, elaborate about context in what you responded too. I have heard it all and it all comes from the mentality: the bible is infallable, even if I have to make up stuff to make it so that it does not say.

          July 27, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
        • Mark Knox

          I was referring specifically to Bootyfunk's comments, not whatever stories you are dredging up to make a point. I will, however, give you one example, because I could argue with people that presume to know my mind all day long and it is the mental equivalent of jogging in place. Bootyfunk mentions that Christ says that a master may "beat his servant with many stripes". What he doesn't say is that this is a parable in which Christ is chastising those who profess to be Godly but because they do not truly live as God would have them, and specifically in this parable are abusive and beat those in a lower station, they will be rebuked by God and will receive punishment in kind. Far from being Christ's endorsement of abusing slaves, as bootyfunk presented it, this was actually an admonition against it. THAT is context. If you want more, you are welcome to pick up a Bible and actually read what it is it says.
          As to the example of the man struck dead for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, Christ put aside this legalistic nonsense by he himself doing work on the Sabbath. I don't know if the man had a heart condition or was struck down by God- these are things that don't really inform my day to day existence but if it's important to you, you may believe whatever you like.

          July 28, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  6. Ron

    People believe in god because their parents and people they grew up around told them to. Its the same way that we believe santa is real until our bubble is burst. They continue to believe because they are truly afraid of being flame broiled in hell after they die. It really only comes down to that. What if I dont believe and im wrong, I will burn. Its all one big defense mechanism so deal with people's own fear and insecurity. People are afraid of the unknown so they try and fill the gap with the first thing that fits. and some just decide not to replace the temporary plug with a better one called logic when it comes because they are "used" to the old one.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • tb63

      BINGO! I couldn't agree more, Ron.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Mark Knox

      I love when some arrogant fool trys to tell me what I believe in and why.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Why do you think he was talking about you specifically? What do you believe in and why?

        July 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
      • Steve

        I always love it when an arrogant hipster type makes a remark with no substance to make himself seem so intelligent. Why not offer something specific mark. Oh wait there is none, yet anyways.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
        • Ian J

          I don't think Jesus would want you to simply throw out insults in response to someone's views.

          July 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • DaveLake

      Ron-very well stated!

      July 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • HarryGP

      No, Ron, it really comes down to this for the comparison, either:

      1. You are lying about the account given, and you were not there at the time it happened
      2. Multiple account authors there at the time that were sent to their death without denying it, were lying

      Given there are quite a few authors saying basically the same thing: that Jesus was sent by God, he's the Son of God, willingly faced Roman soldiers to be striped naked 3 times in front of everyone he cared about, lied about, spit on, hit, laughed at, dis-believed, locked up against his will, threatened, falsely accused, scourged (beaten with ropes that had rocks, metal and glass attached to the ends until near death), made to carry a heavy beam part of the way to a crucifixtion site, nailed to a cross, and left to die naked, bleeding and bruised on the cross in front of crying friends and relatives that had the courage to be there as he died. He then rose again the third day, and he did this for those that believe him, repent of their sins, and do what God wants done... and those authors are not getting anything other than basically death for not denying Jesus did it, it's obvious which option it is above that's right.


      July 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
      • Ron

        Several authors say basically the same thing about vampires, they bite your neck and suck your blood as food. They burn when exposed to sunlight, they are immortal, a wooden stake and garlic can kill them, they turn into bats at will, and if bitten by one, you also turn into a vampire. By either they are all lying, or you are lying. Since several different authors agree that have nothing to do with each other, either they are all somehow lying, or you are lying. Given the evidence, I think we all know which one is true.... #TryHarder

        July 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
      • Brian

        All you've really done is given a reason why one option might have a better possibility of being true. And really, what you've done is set up a false dichotomy. Logic 101 – a false dichotomy is where you state a problem and provide only two possible answers when there are in fact more than two possible answers. It's also possible that Jesus never died in the first place (read the Quran). It's also possible that Jesus died and didn't "rise again" bodily (read Jean Dominic Crossan). It's also possible that he never intended those "requirements" that you placed at the end of your statement to be requirements for his love/"eternal life"/"salvation" at all.

        July 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Brian

      Not everyone who believes in the spiritual/ephemeral world does so out of fear. Many do so out of honest searching and investigation. Just because you can't prove it using logic doesn't mean it can't exist – it's impossible to both prove and disprove using conventional logic because faith in and of itself (whether religious in nature or not) lies at least somewhat beyond the physical realm. Faith in God, the Buddah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, logic, or even one's own self mandates a belief in something that one has no firm factual reason for doing so. Heck, after a semester of Epistemology, you'll be wondering about the validity of your faith in your own senses *cringe*

      July 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Paul

    "I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for"

    Finding out what a target audience wants, and delivering it to them, with hopes of building a following and turning a profit = MARKETING
    Delivering the message of God, whether anyone wants to hear it, and helping people receive the grace of God, on His set terms = MINISTRY

    July 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      There are no fixed 'set terms'. This is why there are 100s of Christian sects as well as many other religions.

      OR, are you saying that the church you belong to is the only one that has the true set of fixed terms?

      July 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Brian

      Perhaps. Just remember that it's all a matter of perspective. Terrorist or patriot? Was Robin Hood a criminal or a saint? Your presentation of what you believe to be God's will, God's word, or God's way may be so tainted with your own presuppositions that instead of actually serving up truth, you are serving up some ungodly mess of anti-everything hate-filled evil that only you are blind to. Do you love? The way Jesus did – by inviting all the "worst of these" to spend time with you without precondition? Or are you like the Pharisees, white-washed on the outside and hell-bent on showing everyone else how wonderful they were while they rotted away on the inside with their own self-deception?
      No judgement – just a question. Most evangelicals will go bersek at this – but hey, it's an honest question worth pondering.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Can

      You've nailed it.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  8. Rusty Yates

    We are starting an atheist church and your advice rings strangely true, except for swapping the Jesus part for 'life purpose' all else seems to match up. I can even imagine our old guard saying much the same thing as you elders only speaking in atheiese.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  9. chacha

    At the end of the day it's about a personal relationship with Jesus – I have one and wouldn't trade it for the world. Millennials stay in church when the church focuses on relationships with others and Christ – not religion. Religion is manmade and can be very flawed. A personal relationship with Christ is what all humans, deep down, long for and need. Some fill the need with other things and wonder why they never stay satisfied. Others choose to reject it and secretly hope they aren't making an eternal mistake.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " Others choose to reject it and secretly hope they aren't making an eternal mistake. "
      Arrogant presumption.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
      • Mark Knox

        No more arrogant than the comments I see left by atheists on these threads. The comment below a perfect example.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
        • Colin

          Oh come one. If (s)he claimed a "personal relationship" with Winston Churchill or President Kennedy, nobody would doubt mild schitzophrenia. How is a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago any different?

          July 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • Mark Knox

          Nobody who wasn't already predisposed to a different set of beliefs, at least. 🙂

          July 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
        • midwest rail

          When your best defense is "look over there, our behavior is no worse than theirs", you have abdicated the moral high ground permanently.

          July 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Mark Knox

          A defense against what? I'm not on defense at all- just making an observation. Are the folks that believe the way you do the only ones allowed to do that?
          It is a typical response, though, to make up my position for me so you can then "knock it down", at least in your own mind. I hereby give you permission to feel however you need to feel about it. 🙂

          July 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Colin

      "At the end of the day it's about a personal relationship with Jesus – I have one." I have often wondered whether people who think they have a "relationship" with Jesus are mildly schitzophrenic.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Mildly? You are too kind.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Steve

      I always love how it comes down to "a feeling". It's not an intellectual argument with evidence, just a feeling. "Oh i feel Jesus in my head and if you did you would understand too". No offense but that is not enough. People of all different kinds of religions claim that they have an invisible friend who talks to them. Who are we to believe? You know what would bring credibility? If Jesus actually told you something valuable to society that nobody currently knows, like the cure to cancer or where Jimmy Hoffa's body is. But of course your invisible friend never says anything of use, he just makes you feel good, like a bag of heroin. What are the rest of us to say? Hmm, let me calculate, either this person is delusional or he really is talking to Jesus Christ who died 2,000 years ago without any evidence. Has to be the latter no doubt.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • hee hee

      How does Jesus take his coffee? I'm having him over for dinner tomorrow.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  10. Katie Redd

    I'm 83 - Me too!!!!

    July 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  11. WachetAuf

    The primitive herding instinct informs what we think about every issue which has ever been thought of and offered by the human mind. It is impossible to escape it. Not even the most independent and critical thinker is free from its influence. What it takes to free us from the herding instinct is the collaborative effort of independent, critical thinkers, to collectively examine issues which are of most importance to the world. Such collaborative efforts have been attempted. Independent, critical thinkers have come together in universities, many of them established by churches, Harvard for example. Democratic systems have been established to promote intelligent and reasoned deliberation on issues of importance. We have been on that path here in the USA for 250 years. We have recognized the evil of primitive thinking. Maybe this new generation has finally caught on to Jesus' more highly evolved message, a message of tolerance and humility which invited us to step out of the influence of the herd. If that is the thinking of this new generation it would be something we can finally celebrate.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark Knox

      Well said!

      July 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Bill Sherman

      The plain simple fact of the matter...what will happen is exactly what Jesus says will happen. You can either believe that or not. The choice is yours. Life or eternal punishment..which do you want? You either follow Jesus or you don't. God gave us all free will to do whatever we please but the reality is if you are not following Jesus then you will be in hell..it's so simple and doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
      • jazzguitarman

        Thanks, Bill. I openly reject your version of a god whose main priority is being worshiped and if one doesn't do so is tortured. Yea, that was simple!

        July 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Steve

      The vast majority of the USA is christian. That is the herd, not the 18% athiests. Tolerance? You are kidding right? Follow Jesus and if not you wil suffer hellfire for eternity. I am sure Gandhi is on the BBQ right now screaming, just as he did not think the evidence was compelling enough to accept Jesus as the Messiah. A philosophical difference = eternal damnation is the height of intolerance. Even the Nazis only killed the Jews, not for eternity. If that is tolerance in your eyes, then what could possibly be intolerance?

      July 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
      • Brian

        Being subjugated to "hip" music and preachers in skinny jeans

        July 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  12. Neo Atheist

    Just got back from a bible burning. Roasted some smores and had a great time.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • jstars

      "The chief deficiency in the skeptical movement is its polarization: us vs them–the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you're sensible, you'll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is nonconstructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns us to permanent minority status."

      July 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Spreading atheist word? Was this roasting on a atheist missionary trip. It's funny the atheist are the biggest zealots of all. Rarely preaching their own word and simply making smart comments about other religions.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • Neo Atheist

        Nope, just burning false hope in a dead god that shouldn't have any relevance in today's modern times. So, what you are saying is that Atheists are more of zealous in their beliefs than that of the Westboro Baptist Church? Or more Zealous than muslim extremists? Last I Checked atheists were not responsible for flying two planes into buildings or suicide bombings or beheading people, or protesting soldiers funerals, or countless other atrocities all done in the name of a supposedly kind loving benevolent god. Yet atheists are the bad guys here. I think at our next bible burning, I will wipe my rear with pages of the new testament before setting fire to them.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  13. Ms.Mundell

    OMG...this is SO right on! And, this is from one way past 'millenial' !

    July 27, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  14. Ron

    What kind of father tells his children "love me and believe in me even though I am never there, or I will flame torch you for the rest of time in an underground dungeon"

    Real or not, you worship this person? might as well worship that dude Castro from cleveland.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Sam

      way to over simplify things. well done.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Pankraz

        Isn't it worship me or burn in hell?? Isn't that the crux of Jesus' entire ministry?? And spare us with the "you choose to go to hell" nonsense, no sentient being would choose to be tortured forever, but according to your middle eastern mythology that is exactly what happens to those who do not accept Jesus as lord.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
      • Mark Knox

        Exactly. Don't tell Christians what they believe and then condemn them for whatever childish over-simplifications you force on them.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
      • Pete99

        I don't accept Jesus as my savior. According to the bible I am going to hell. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

        July 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      Interesting, Ron. God is like an absent father whose children are being raised by a single mother who passes her fear on to her children.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Kevin W

      Hell is not eternal. The idea that it is a Greek construct overlaid on Hebrew thought.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  15. tb63

    My personal impasse: if you believe all other religions are ridiculous and made up, then so is yours.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  16. R. Parker

    Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus. I think this is an over statement.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      The statement is accurate if one replaces Jesus with higher power. Poll of Americans under 40 show a major increase in people that reject religion but only a very minor increase in atheist or agnostics.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  17. David Marshall

    Growing up as a Catholic and speaking now as a recovering Catholic – I relocated to Tulsa, OK – and I have to say, after I recovered from falling over seeing people here not only reading the Bible but taking high lighters and marking the pages as if studying for some upcoming exam, and after my jaw dropped from seeing groups of men sitting at Starbucks and Panera at 7:00am deep into their Bible studies, and after I tried the Christian "Mega Churches" here in Tulsa, my heart longed for the reverence of the traditional mass where Jesus stands tall and then I found Church On The Move with pastor Willy George – it changed my life.

    Pastor Willy stands guard at the gate of reverence, he is the glue that keeps the church firmly grounded in Jesus' teachings. At the same time – the music is amazing, and while I must admit I do miss the haunting rebounding echoes of a pipe organ – the music has touched a chord (pun intended). I am not so sure that people are leaving the church for the reasons you outlined – though you make many great points – I think rather that the meaning of faith has been traded for science and wanting the luxury of being free to think in “facts” and “proof” and what makes sense to us. For the same reasons Starbucks is a phenomenal success because they offer an “experience” why else would be so willing to pay $5,00 dollars for a coffee. Perhaps this generation wants an experience because our imaginations have grown numb with the advent of the technology explosion and yes, tired of being “sold” to. We have become more educated and immune to being “sold” to we even feel insulted if anyone tries to “sell” us and so we resist advertising, while at the same time we will allow being sold to as long as it somehow has an effect on our life – and so we demand an experience – church is about faith, it’s about using your own mind to try and connect to His word.

    The Christian church deserves credit for trying to reach the younger generations. Meanwhile the Catholic churches are being closed and tuned into pubs, boutiques and homes for the very reason of losing people because they are so stuck in the past.

    In the end – everything changes and it is inevitable and necessary in order to grow. Going back to the traditional Catholic church services would be like running back to the end of the line only to repeat the process over and start again because we think we have somehow missed something.

    Maybe what we have missed we traded away.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • hee hee

      Quoting Marshall: "I think rather that the meaning of faith has been traded for science and wanting the luxury of being free to think in “facts” and “proof” and what makes sense to us."

      That sums it up quite nicely, thank you.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  18. FrankB

    If people only believed what they understood, where would humankind be right now? Religion isn't intellectual. It's spiritual. They are different aspects of the human condition. I don't understand how touch screens work, but just because I don't understand it doesn't make it any less real. If you don't want to follow a religion, that's your choice. But what good is it doing to say that anyone that follows a religion is ignorant or not smart enough to understand the facts?

    July 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Religion isn't intellectual. It's spiritual. FrankB, I agree with that comment. It is at the core of what this woman is trying to figure out. She doesn't see a spiritual basis for the hate of gays by evangelical churches. She doesn't see a spiritual basis for why people can't use condoms? etc....

      July 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • hee hee

      "Religion isn't intellectual, it's spiritual".

      Disguised by many words, here we have the invitation to stop thinking.

      I respectfully decline the invitation.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  19. CdnJim

    This is an issue as old as religion itself. The question the church's leaders have always been asking since the apostles is, "How do we maintain our power and revenue stream?" They just phrase it differently for each generation. I lived through the 60's and early 70's "Good News" folk church phase, then the Martin Luther King/Mother Teresa/Gandhi great spirits phase, through the environmental-caring and socially conscious re-branding. And finally the last 20 years of vomitous choruses and praise bands. It all comes back to the same question – "How do we maintain our power and revenue stream?" All under the facade of an iron-age deity no more and no less real than Zeus, Apollo, Isis, Thor, etc. Re-brand yourself all you want, it's an outdated product. Now if only I could get young people to start using slide-rulers again...maybe if I call them Belieber rulers.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • hee hee

      I like slide-rules, they illustrate how logarithm takes multiplication to addition quite nicely. Now that's a life-enriching concept.

      Those who think that is a crazy statement, should learn how much it affected history. You'll be surprised.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  20. edmundburkeson

    It was this same type of criticism from baby boomers that gave rise to "cooler" churches. Every generation has the responsibility to translate faith into a culturally relevant experience without compromising the core message. It is the latter where we sometimes run into trouble. Compromising the message which was once delivered for all is not an option. Especially with so many who have no clue who God is, or is not. I find it interesting that atheists never define God or the absence of God making it easier on themselves to be excused from the debate. This is a good article

    July 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • hee hee

      Ah yes, the "core message". To which you are privy.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Can you define 'god'? Can you list 3 traits associated with 'god'? Thanks

      July 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.