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. D.V. Tidwell

    The most telling line in this whole article: "We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers." Isn't that like saying, "We want the answers to our questions to be more to our liking(?)" I'm amazed that you think God is so compliant, Ms. Evans. Even though there are plenty of churches willing to bow to the growing demands for more inclusive & tolerant messages, a counterfeit gospel is one of Satan's most effective means for misleading people into thinking they are safe. (Matthew 7:13-14; 21-23)

    July 29, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Even though there are plenty of churches willing to bow to the growing demands for more inclusive & tolerant messages"

      You are right, the god of Abraham should never be accused of having an inclusive and tolerant message.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:15 am |
      • graywills

        Sorry, I cannot see what it is you are trying to say?

        July 29, 2013 at 2:40 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Read the Bible. All of it.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:55 am |
      • graywills

        I have read all of the Bible, but I still don't understand what you are wanting to say.

        July 29, 2013 at 4:22 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Then it is a "You" problem....

          July 29, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • skytag

      I took that to mean they don't want canned platitudes in response to important questions.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Eric

      2nd Timothy 4:1-5
      1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • maias

      Asking questions that don’t have predetermined answers is NOT like saying, "We want the answers to our questions to be more to our liking".

      People want an honest answer from their priests and not something the priests have been programmed to say by their Church leadership. How would you answer the question: "If there is only one God, why does the first commandment say "You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3), and why does God, himself, say in Genesis 1:26 "Let us make man in our image'?

      July 29, 2013 at 2:38 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        If horses had gods, their gods would be horses.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:41 am |
  2. Ryan

    I'm ouyt of high school. I played in band and on the baseball team. My parents up untill around age 13 went to church most sundays. Due to sports and life we just stopped going. As I began to grow older, my faith began to dwindle. Now I'm 18 and heading to college this September. Through my years in high school, my beliefs changed from putting my faith in God to putting faith in myself, in my bandmates, and in my teamates. The I see it is like this, I studied for that test, I made that play or nailed that solo, my team mate crushed that ball, my section leader put in the time to be the number one in our section. Never did God do these things. I did these things, they did those things, we did these things. So instead of placing our faith in a power or a person who died 2000 years ago, put it in the person next to you whether it be your SO your team mate or just another person. Put your faith in someone who affects your life.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • AE

      Human power is limited. And if you are going to put your faith in human beings, be prepared to be let down.

      God's power is unlimited. He will never fail you.

      You may not get what you want. But you will get what you need.

      God knows exactly what you need and has already given it to you. Your job is to ask for help in relieving you of the extra stuff. The shortcomings that keep you tied down.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:07 am |
      • Giovanni

        You forgot to mention the hundreds of thousands of innocent people that die every year from disease, natural disaster and such, then that Yahweh guy doesn't really seem to give a flying F.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:20 am |
        • AE

          Life is difficult. Death is not the final outcome.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:23 am |
        • shawn l

          How would you know that death isn't the final outcome?
          No evidence, no proof, no facts. J ust a collection of fairy tales that have been altered to suit the people in charge, time and time again.

          Christians pick and choose from the bible what to believe in, ignoring stuff that happens to be inconvenient.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:26 am |
        • Giovanni

          AE, Most people in the world are not Christian, yet I would dare to say that most people are good people. Why should they be go to eternal damnation pretty much just because they were born in the wrong country?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:30 am |
        • AE

          What makes you think they will face eternal damnation? I'm not the judge – Christians believe that Jesus Christ is.

          When he was on Earth – who did He love? Usually it was the people that the important religious people said God hated.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:39 am |
        • Giovanni

          Jesus himself made it quite clear what happens to people who had not accepted him as their savior before death...

          July 29, 2013 at 2:47 am |
        • AE

          What did he say?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:48 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "What did he say?"

          John 14:6

          Have you ever actually read the Bible?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:04 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "Life is difficult. Death is not the final outcome."

          As the old saying goes, life's a bitch, and then you die. And that is the final outcome.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:08 am |
        • AE

          Where does Jesus talk about eternal damnation.

          Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death. But they don't understand exactly what is going on. Thomas asks Jesus:
          "Lord, we don't even know where you are going! How can we know the way?"

          John 14:6 – "I am the way, the truth and the life!" Jesus answered "Without me, no one can go to the Father."

          I don't see where he talks about "eternal damnation".

          July 29, 2013 at 3:13 am |
        • Giovanni

          John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” FYI,

          John 13:18: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

          here's the kicker for those that don't "know" him, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

          Praise Him!

          July 29, 2013 at 3:18 am |
        • AE

          Good thing Jesus conquered death and hell. That means he can save a soul after death. He is that good.

          I believe you would just really have to hate goodness and choose to live in hell.

          Good news.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:24 am |
        • Ryan

          I'm assuming you havn't read any of the New Testament AE. Jesus and his disciples all mention hell and how to avoid it, and how easy it is to end up there numerous times. If you don't have a Bible on hand, just google "New Testament scriptures on hell" or something similar.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:32 am |
        • AE

          Jesus spent a lot of time with "those people", "the others", "the wrong kind" – because he loved them.

          I can't imagine that love stops at death. The Bible many times says it doesn't end.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:39 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "I can't imagine that love stops at death."

          There was a time when people couldn't imagine a man could walk on the moon. Reality does not in any way depend on the limits of your imagination.

          "The Bible many times says it doesn't end."

          Doesn't make it so.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:45 am |
      • shawn l

        What a lord of horse pucky. God lets people down every single day. The simple fact of the matter is, if there is a god, he doesn't care. Treat people well, do your best to live a good life, and try not to hurt others. That's the best you can do and stop saying everything good that happens is because of god while excusing everything bad that happens as "He works in mysterious ways."

        July 29, 2013 at 2:21 am |
      • Sam

        " You may not get what you want. But you will get what you need."
        You mean to say 25 thousand people who die of hunger every don’t need food. I don’t know all of the them personally but i bet at least few thousand of them pray to god for food before dying. Why your god don’t give them food?

        July 29, 2013 at 2:26 am |
        • AE

          I'm trying to get them food!

          There is enough food on this planet that no person should go hungry.

          But due to human greed and corruption, not all are getting food. The amount of food and resources Americans consume in relation to the rest of the world is sickening.

          There are good people trying to fix this. I hope you can help. You obviously have heard the cry.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:30 am |
        • shawn l

          Feed the hungry... so they reproduce and compound the problem.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:36 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Many groups, faith-based and not, governmental and not, are trying to deal with world hunger. As you said, AE, it is all about the human obstacles to the human will to do something about it that slows us down and, all-too-often, causes us to fail. God, should it exist, seems uninvolved.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • AE

          Not at the churches I go to. There are some amazing things that are happening, that I just can't see happening without God's help.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:42 am |
        • skytag

          @shawn l: "Feed the hungry... so they reproduce and compound the problem."

          Help eliminate poverty. Let a poor person starve today.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:26 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "There are some amazing things that are happening, that I just can't see happening without God's help."

          A major reason people have invented gods throughout human history is a need to have an explanation for phenomenon whose causes they didn't understand. They also invented the devil and evil spirits to explain bad things so there gods wouldn't get blamed for them.

          July 29, 2013 at 4:03 am |
        • shawn l

          Birth control is the answer, not creating more population.

          July 29, 2013 at 5:51 am |
      • skytag

        "Human power is limited. And if you are going to put your faith in human beings, be prepared to be let down."

        True, but this is just a reality of life.

        "God's power is unlimited."

        God's power is nonexistent because he doesn't exist. The fact that humans have their limitations may have you wanting to believe there is a greater power out there on your side, but wanting something to be true doesn't make it true.

        "He will never fail you."

        What a laugh. It wasn't God who freed the people in Hitler's death camps, it was Americans and Russians armed with a lot of heavy weaponry.

        "You may not get what you want. But you will get what you need."

        Platitudes don't change reality. Did the six million Jews who were slaughtered by the Nazis in WWII get what they needed from God? When subjected to rational analysis, the Christian view in practice is this: "You will get what you need, and you need nothing. Not freedom, not health, not life."

        The Christian view is that you don't need squat, and squat is exactly what you'll get from God.

        "God knows exactly what you need and has already given it to you. Your job is to ask for help in relieving you of the extra stuff. The shortcomings that keep you tied down."

        Religious gibberish unsupported by even a single piece of objective evidence.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:31 am |
      • solace

        your naive Ryan and talking gibberish. Jesus is always there for you u just dont know it yet, becoz u havent yearned him enough in your life. whatever u do and achieve, comes from the graces u've rcvd from Him. from a typical human/aesthetically standpoint, u may argue this all ur life, becos ur brain and understanding and wisdom and intellect is like a sandgrain, period! so chill and keep winning laurels all the way, but if u got guts and gumption try winning ur way to Bring Jesus into ur life, thats the true goal and prize! - after that u'll gain some sanity and life will never the be the same for u. God Bless u !

        July 29, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • shawn l

          Wow, what an uneducated, blathering post. It was unreadable and made zero sense.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:41 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Anyone see any objective, verifiable, independent facts in the above? I don't. Just more of the same – "you're not mature enough or able to comprehend god," "you haven't looked in the right places or sincerely" and "you have to believe to believe." Lots of meaningless words intended to maintain the status quo and avoid the hard questions, such as "where's the evidence for your delusions?"

          July 29, 2013 at 2:47 am |
      • Susan

        Bull--! God has been nothing but a theory with not a shred of proof. But Man is so blinded over his beliefs he will gladly kill you in Gods name if you try to distort his fantasy any.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:48 am |
      • Yep!

        ....there's been a couple of church buses crashing in the last couple of days....a preacher and his pregnant wife killed in Indiana and 36 killed in Italy.......loving GOD?

        July 29, 2013 at 3:25 am |
      • Ryan

        Again to AE: It is VERY clear in the Bible that anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the son of God will suffer eternal damnation in a pit of hellfire. How could a loving god possibly subject any of his 'children' to such torment? Let's say you were born in the middle east, and were raised as a Muslim. You were absolutely convinced you believed in the one true God. According to your beliefs now, you as a Muslim would suffer eternally. All for being born in the wrong area, in the wrong culture.

        July 29, 2013 at 3:37 am |
        • Yep!

          You don't have to be a Muslim...Jews are going to hell too! In fact, 3/4 of the people in the world will fill up the 'pit'! Not very many in 'paradise'!

          July 29, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • skytag

      They say there are no atheists in foxholes. That isn't actually true. However, it is true that when men are in foxholes and their lives are on the line they all want a good weapon, ammunition, buddies they can count on, and air support, even the most devote believers, because deep down they know what's going to keep them alive, and it isn't God.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:20 am |
      • shawn l

        When you are drowning, pray to god to save you and see what happens, while the other guy rescues himself instead of asking some mythical mythological being to do it for him.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:23 am |
    • Jennifer

      What you're forgetting is that God gave you the ability to do all of those things.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:29 am |
      • HotAirAce

        He didn't forget anything. He clearly rejects your god, and unless you have some conclusive evidence to the contrary, his beliefs are every bit as valid as yours.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:35 am |
        • shawn l

          Christians and Muslims are so much alike. Arrogant, close minded, judgemental.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:38 am |
      • AE

        God gives. And gives.

        We take. And take.

        July 29, 2013 at 3:29 am |
        • skytag

          You babble, and babble.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:39 am |
      • Damocles

        Oh, wow, that's so funny... 'a deity gave you those abilities'. People are willing to give thanks to a deity after a positive outcome has been achieved, yet oddly no believer is willing to say 'hey, thanks for making me mediocre today'. I'd love to see a sports figure at the end of a horrible game say something along the lines of 'well, you know, my deity saw fit to make me look like I've never played this game before. I wanted to catch that easy pass when I was all alone in the end-zone but, you know, when that little voice in your head says 'don't catch that ball', you gotta go with what the voice says'.

        July 29, 2013 at 4:18 am |
        • AE

          "Be thankful in all circ.umstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

          1 Thessalonians 5:18

          An athlete should thank God, even in his so-called failures on the field.

          July 29, 2013 at 11:28 am |

          This is more for Damocles...My wife almost died in a severe car accident in 2011. She was in hospital for a 12 days...everyday I thanked God for the experience and so did she. We saw more grace and kindness and had more opportunity to experience God in that tragedy than at almost any other time in our lives. I have other stories, true ones, that friends and family have been through that have the same experience...I am so sorry you have not and may not ever experience the joy that exist with God through suffering. We all suffer at one time or another after all.

          July 29, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  3. Real Wisdom

    Atheists Are Really Sad…

    Some atheists will spend all of their time, day and night, on forums like this, arguing against the truth. And all for what? Trying to dissuade people from believing in God or the bible? They will fail. For those who are slated to be saved will be saved anyway. And those who are slated to be lost will be lost anyway. And there is nothing that Lucifer, his legions of unbelievers, or any of the devils in the pit of hell can do about it. Even Jesus himself stated, "I know my sheep. And I shall lose not a one of them."

    Even worse, those very atheists who spend all of their time on forums like this and fighting against the truth (rather than being out enjoying the world in what little time they have) will ultimately die and go to hell only to then find out the truth – that they've been wrong about everything they've believed their whole life. What a waste. And the truly sad part is, those same atheists might have even been saved if they had only accepted the truth rather than spent their time fighting against it…

    July 29, 2013 at 1:58 am |
    • AE

      Some spend a lot of time here.

      I think I know what they are truly looking for.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:59 am |
      • JustTheFacts

        No one is asking for your opinion. We already know the truth. Besides, why should we seek truth from someone who's blind as a bat...

        July 29, 2013 at 2:06 am |
        • Observer


          "We already know the truth"

          Good. So you already know that the Bible supports slavery and several mindless kinds of discrimination. Do you also believe in unicorns, talking nonhumans, and dragons, too?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:11 am |
        • AE

          Slow down, Observer. Your are hating on your own side!

          July 29, 2013 at 2:12 am |
        • JustTheFacts

          AE... Sorry about that. Didn't mean to attack a good guy. Sometimes, the way some posts are written, it's difficult to tell if I'm dealing with an atheist or not. It could go either way. So you have my apologies....

          July 29, 2013 at 2:16 am |
        • Observer


          "Slow down, Observer. Your are hating on your own side!"

          I don't hate anyone.

          While I have been gone, has JustTheFacts switched sides since claiming I am run by Lucifer?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:17 am |
        • JustTheFacts

          Observer... Switched sides? And join with atheists? In your dreams. You know that had to be some sort of typing error. LOL...

          July 29, 2013 at 2:20 am |
        • AE

          I'm totally confused now!

          July 29, 2013 at 2:20 am |
        • Observer


          "I'm totally confused now!"

          Not much to it. JustTheFacts misunderstood you and so attacked the wrong person. He is on your side. Good luck.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:27 am |
      • skytag

        I see you're back to insult and browbeat people into believing in Jesus.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:13 am |
        • JustTheFacts

          Who's browbeating? I'm just telling you the truth. You can either take it or leave it. If you end up in hell, it's no skin off my back...

          July 29, 2013 at 2:17 am |
        • HotAirAce

          How can we tell if you are telling the truth?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:22 am |
        • shawn l

          Considering hell isn't even mentioned in your bible, and that it was stolen from the norse pagan religion, your belief's are laughable.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:32 am |
        • sam stone

          'believe what i believe or end up in hell"

          what would evangelism be without these empty proxy threats?

          JTF......jesus is waiting. what are you doing down here? don't you have tall buildings where you live?

          July 29, 2013 at 5:27 am |
    • HotAirAce

      You might be right – if you could show that the most basic of your believes are the truth.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • skytag

      Actually, what's really sad are condescending Christians babbling about "truth" there is no objective reason to believe in an effort to convince themselves their fairytales are real.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:11 am |
  4. stephaniefowers

    First of all, do you believe in God? If you do, do you believe that He changes? Do you believe that you can tell God what is right or wrong? Do you even know who He is? Or do you only doubt that your clergy knows who He is?
    In order to understand the reason for rules and commandments, you need to understand God.
    God is our loving Father in Heaven—he wants us to grow, find joy, and to be like Him—that’s why we are here on this Earth—there’s a reason that we are here. There is a reason that bad things happen, that we have to make choices that are hard, that we need to use our judgment, that we feel grief and feel pain and love, too—these are all things meant for our learning. Pressure makes jewels. And you are right (as multiple people on this thread pointed out)—we aren’t here because God needs us to worship Him, but when He asks us to worship Him; it means He’s asking us to follow his commandments. Why? These commandments are for us, not for him. These rules aren’t meant to make us unhappy—they are meant to free us from things that would make us miserable; they are meant to help us learn and grow because we are God’s children and He wants us to reach our potential.
    God is loving. He is also a God of law—that means He asks us to follow physical laws as well as spiritual. The physical laws are how God created this world. Science is not separate from God because He is the greatest scientist and more—He not only knows what is best for our physical well-being, but our spiritual because He is our father. So, it is in our best interest to follow these laws, and if we won’t, we are damned.
    Damnation isn’t being burned in a hell fire (though it might be described as such, but think about it—you feel no physical pain when you are dead). Damnation means (like a stream plugged up by a beaver dam) that we have stopped ourselves from reaching our full potential. And yes, that would hurt spiritually—but it will be just like here; we do it to ourselves. Being damned means we choose to stay in a place of darkness where the truth can’t and won’t reach us.
    Conversely, if we choose to follow the rules and laws that God has given us, we can progress. Heaven is being with a loving Heavenly Father where we will reach our divine potential. There’s a reason for Heaven, just like there’s a reason for earth—and God wants us all to go there eventually, but no unclean thing can enter God’s presence—that is a law. That’s why he sent his Son, Jesus, to atone for our sins—to fulfill an unchangeable law (where bad choice equals bad consequences) and to make it possible for all of us to return to God. This means that when we sin and make mistakes (which we all will), we can change and continue to progress IF we choose.
    Heavenly Father loves all of His children—every race, every gender, every culture, those part of any religion or part of any political view, believers, nonbelievers, sinners, saints, etc. His grief and wrath against those who don’t follow His commandments is comparable to a loving parent whose child touches a flame. But He won’t stop us from making our choices—that goes against our progression. Neither will He change the rules so we won’t get burnt—how will that help us to learn?
    However, He won’t give up on any of us—in life or in death. He knows our hearts and minds. He knows we are at different points of progression. We have different challenges, temptations, pain. He works with each of us separately, and in the end, he judges us with the light and knowledge each of us has been given. Judgment will be fair because He is fair—and it will be designed with each of our well-beings in mind. But besides all that, the fact is; the more light and knowledge we accept here, the more light and knowledge we will be given and the happier we will be in this life and the life to come.
    So why am I even explaining all of this? So that you will understand where I am coming from when I read your article about religion: you say that this new ‘hip’ generation (the millennium) wants a religion that accepts everything and asks nothing from you in return? If there was such a religion, it would only mean empty promises and an empty life. Yes, you are right when you say that there is more to a religion than just teaching morals and laws, there is also truth. And you can’t change truth. Trying to do so will only hurt you and the ones you say you are trying to protect.
    And yes again; we need to love all of our brothers and sisters (and I’m talking everyone here). We need to treat everyone kindly because everyone has different light, understanding, and knowledge. Because I love my brothers and sisters, I would never lead anyone away from the truth and from their subsequent happiness; even if it meant easy acceptance and popularity. Even if I am seen as old-fashioned and possibly close-minded, I think I care about my brothers and sisters and their progression more than that.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • HotAirAce

      No, I do not believe in your god, or any god. I believe you cannot prove anything you say you believe. In other words, I believe your are full of sh!t. Any other questions?

      July 29, 2013 at 1:50 am |
      • Jim

        Wow, what an intelligence response.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:07 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Thank you. I thought I pretty much covered her questions and way more succinctly than she posed them.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • skytag

      "First of all, do you believe in God?"


      "In order to understand the reason for rules and commandments, you need to understand God."

      Also "no." You need to understand why religions exist. One of those reasons is to give people a way to avoid dealing with harsh realities in life. Another is to provide answers to questions science can't answer. And finally, to give them an incentive to be better members of the society in which they live.

      As for the rest of your wall of text even you know none of it can be substantiated by any objective evidence.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      Stehanie... Although I appreciate anyone who stands up for God, where exactly did you get all that stuff from. It's certainly not according to scripture. More people than a little bit will end up in hell for believing stuff that is not according to the scriptures. Make sure you're getting your understanding of the scriptures from a true sent preacher, and that he's getting his understanding from God. All other sources of information are false and of the devil, and will only lead your soul to hell...

      July 29, 2013 at 2:13 am |
      • Damocles

        Keep it simple: Believe like I do, or you are going to hell.

        July 29, 2013 at 5:05 am |
      • Say what

        And you know that your preacher is 'true' how? And your preacher's version of the bible...the parts they tell you are literal and the ones they allow to be interpretative....how so?

        Step back and use the head your god gave you. Think about this for a minute. Stop drinking the koolaid.

        July 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
      • Say what

        And you know that your preacher is 'true' how? And your preacher's version of the bible...the parts they tell you are literal and the ones they allow to be interpretative....you know THIS version must be the correct one? How so? Why?

        Step back and use the head your god gave you. Think about this for a minute. Stop drinking the koolaid.

        July 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  5. Steve

    What a BS article. She actually manages to follow the statement "We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation." with "We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities."

    The kingdom of God is not welcoming to your LGBT friends. You're actually insisting that thousands of years of church doctrine be cast aside along with the laws given to us by God so you have the freedom to do whatever you want without consequence. Well I'm sorry, if you want to live under the Father's roof you have to follow the Father's rules; just like your mortal father's house.

    A church that discards God's law to increase membership has abandoned God himself. Woe unto he who calls good evil and evil good.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • rmiller

      The problem here is that you are basing your opinion on incorrect theology. There's plenty of room for LGBT people in God's kingdom, and you don't have the authority to reject them. So take Jesus' words to heart when he says that it's none of your concern who gets into heaven and who doesn't.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • shawn l

      Funny how your Jesus taught compassion, acceptance, love and tolerance... and you christians teach and practice the exact opposite for anyone that doesn't believe or act the way you view as acceptable.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:33 am |
  6. Just Bill

    Or maybe they're leaving because it's not easy to follow Christ. Maybe they were never exposed to sound doctrine, maybe they are too vulnerable to the opinions of their fellow millenials, maybe they were raised to be such consumate consumers that they must continually seek the next shiny new toy. Maybe following Christ requires too much responsibility in an age when responsibility is frequently mocked. I graduated college this year and I've spent lots of time with millenials. They are focused on self-gratification in whatever form it might take and they are very vulnerable to the opinion of their peers. Maybe its just too hard for them to commit to following Jesus, which requires fellowship, accountability, and commitment, which means they need to be the church they are leaving.

    At the end of the day, it is the old story. The path to destruction is wide and many will enter and the path to salvation is narrow and few will enter. The decline of the church in America has far more to do with society than it does with the church.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • AE

      It is far easier to deny our sins than to deny ourselves, eh?

      Following Jesus is challenging – but worth it. And it is a free gift.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:42 am |
  7. KALO

    I grew up in Evangelical Christianity. I was a serious believer. I followed my faith because I was passionate about it. I did missionary work. I studied the Bible. I was passionate about defending my faith. But then I went to graduate school and my intellectual curiosity kept creeping up on me. I had to really find out what truth was. And then I discovered that the belief in god is fantasy. Like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I also discovered that I didn't need to be accepted by a group to be acceptable. Rachel, the problem is not that they don't find Jesus in the church. The problem is that they just don't find Jesus on Earth. Because, if he ever existed, he has been dead for 2,000 years and is irrelevant to human life in 2013. I resent Evangelical Christianity for its close minded, soft cult-like behavior. I actually despise it like a cancer. I don't want my children anywhere near it. It has a foothold on our society and we are all in danger of death as a result. It's time to grow up and embrace reality, science and truth.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • rmiller

      This discussion is not for you. You've staked out your claim, now go be happy with it and let the people who believe find their own answers. You obviously have nothing to contribute to the conversation.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • clinky

      KALO, That was your experience and deserves full respect. But can you speak for everybody? The lives and paths of hundreds of millions of individuals in this country? You might be surprised to know that some people take the reverse route that you did, from a climate of disbelief growing up to faith and solidarity in a church that speaks to them. That wasn't what I did, by the way. And not, not, not questioning your decisions. But why do you get to decide for everyone else?

      July 29, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • Just Concerned

      Did you know the LORD?
      Yes? Well you are living in rebellion to Him and you've chosen blindness that you may partake of the pleasuses of sin for a season.
      No? Then you were never a Christian to begin with you only did that which made YOU feel good about yourself.

      "He who puts his hands to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of heaven"

      July 29, 2013 at 2:10 am |
      • sam stone

        you post pompous drivel

        July 29, 2013 at 5:41 am |
  8. brittneygilleland

    Reblogged this on Reflecting You..

    July 29, 2013 at 1:28 am |
  9. j

    You nailed it when you said they have good BS detectors, but failed to follow that thread to the logical conclusion.

    It's all BS.

    They don't want to go to church because it's obviously fake, based in emotional manipulation, and a steaming pile of lies.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  10. pooua

    Funny; millennials supposedly think that evangelical Christianity is too political, but then demand the church kowtow to the political and social fads of the day. Obviously, the problem isn't that evangelical Christianity is too political. The problem is that a lot of young people don't agree with the political implications of evangelical Christian teachings.

    Incidentally, the last I checked, Catholicism wasn't too keen on LGBT, either.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:21 am |
  11. Joanna

    Nice article, here's the thing though. You say that you don't see Jesus in the churches – I don't know what churches you have been to, but there are definitely churches that do well in representing and teaching Jesus Christ (not all churches of course) HOWEVER....if you think you will find perfection in a human being, you must know that your kidding yourself.

    Every human being will let you down at one point or another, its only God that will never let you down. In one way or another – as humans we will fall. It's really easy for people to turn there back on someone (let's say the pastor/priest) because that person has failed to meet their expectations, but what Jesus teaches us to do is to pray for that person who fell, make yourselves available to that person, support them in getting back up, and forgive them!, not turn your back and determine that since this person is corrupt the heck with God.....

    That's where so many people get it sooooo wrong..... if you want to see Christ start with yourself – You are just as loved by God as any man of God, open your bible, read it, if you don't understand it look for a community that will help and encourage you in finding out what our Creator has to say about you, and your life. Ask God to help you. He is attentive, and He hears your hearts desires, He answers prayers. God has provided this world with so many answers, and so much accessibility to Him – its us that refuse to accept Him. Examine yourselves first, if you have the courage.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • AE

      Very well put.

      I gain so much strength from the community and fellowship from my church, that I cannot imagine doing it alone. I feel blessed to be in a city with so many great churches. Some of my favorite have started from people not feeling they were getting their needs meet, and starting a new group. And then it grew beyond all expectations.

      Peace be with you!

      July 29, 2013 at 1:50 am |
  12. Mac

    If millennials are leaving churches because they don't exactly like what is being served on their silver platters then maybe the problem isn't churches. Maybe it lies within their own unrealistic expectations of everyone else. A church is supposed to be the combined efforts of EVERYONE in it to serve their communities, not an exclusive group that sits around talking about their own needs. It's a big old world out their that is full of people who have bigger problems. Many church leaders are trying to serve their communities but their efforts are being derailed by members who are too concerned with being served.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • tony

      Someone is confusing religion with social service. There isn't a main goal of SS in the 10 commandments.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:14 am |
      • SDY

        "...and the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself." Not one of the ten, but one of the two, spoken by a guy who's kind of important from a New Testament standpoint.

        If you're focused on the ten and ignoring the two, you're a lousy excuse for a Christian,

        July 29, 2013 at 1:39 am |
  13. Poodlepuff

    Sorry, I have never longed for Jesus. I just don't swing that way.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • devin

      Jesus said, " It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to heal the righteous, but those who are sinners." Perhaps someday you will realize your condition of spiritual sickness and in turn the need to " long for Jesus."

      July 29, 2013 at 1:43 am |
  14. Michael

    If Christianity is true, then you cannot tailor it to your beliefs or desires. If it is true then it must be accepted as revealed in scripture. Even those things we do not like or wish were not true, must be accepted if it is true. If it is not true as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are of all people most to be pitied."

    July 29, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • ArtaudD2

      Must be why there are all those thousands of sects, national churches, regional churches, etc. Wikipedia states there are around 41000, in fact.
      Which is The Right One and which of the others will send you to the place where the guy wearing horns and a pointy stick conducts his business?

      July 29, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • HotAirAce

      After 2,000+ years, there is no evidence for the existence of any god, a divine jesus or any alleged supernatural act, in The Babble or any other cult's magic book. In any other domain, such unfounded claims would have been abandoned but religion continues to get a free pass. Fortunately, religion is on the decline, at least in most developed nations.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:15 am |
      • AE

        You can listen to someone like "HotAirAce".

        Or Martin Luther King, JR – who not only believed in God and Jesus Christ, but promises he received direction from them.


        As he prayed alone in the silent kitchen, King heard a voice saying, "Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even until the end of the world." Then King heard the voice of Jesus. "I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone."

        I know who I am going to trust about God!

        July 29, 2013 at 1:22 am |
        • Get Real

          ""I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone."

          I know I'll sound like a buzz-kill, but that was blatant, bald-faced showmanship from King, playing on the emotionalism of the audience, to gales of "Hallelujahs and Amens and Yayyahs". It makes me concerned about what else you might fall for so easily.

          Yes, he accomplished some beneficial things, but this was not one of them.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:20 am |
        • AE

          I'm confident Dr King would disagree with you.


          July 29, 2013 at 2:52 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., who I respect enormously for his stand against racism but otherwise view as just another lying charlatan shaman, I have not committed adultery.

        July 29, 2013 at 1:30 am |
        • AE

          Martin Luther King, JR also chain smoked and drank heavily.

          Christians are not perfect by any means.

          Maybe you are?

          If not, you still have a place in God's heart. He forgives.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:37 am |
        • HotAirAce

          I am not perfect but I never stood at the front of a cult's clubhouse or anywhere else and claimed I was having conversations with and doing the work of some unfounded god.

          If you repeatedly break your cult's rules and lie to your wife (and ask or force those around you to lie or cover up what they know), why should you be believed about anything that is not proven?

          July 29, 2013 at 1:48 am |
        • AE

          Human beings can do amazing things – like peacefully protest a racial injustice – but they always seem to leave a reminder that they are not perfect.

          God created this world and said it is not perfect. But he also said that is OK.

          God has lots of grace, mercy and forgiveness for us.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:58 am |
  15. Steven R

    I'm a millennial and I believe in God. Sure, go ahead and attack my right to believe in it with your atheist views. But I tell you, I will have more strength, will, positive outlook, drive, desire, than you will when your down about something. See it's the spirit inside that drives us to do good, care, and push for a more constructive society. People wonder why everything seems to be going downhill. Where are their morals and respect for life? Nowhere, they chose to walk away and not listen to their teacher. All in all, I truly respect Atheist and their views. But, please respect my right and will to believe in God. It is called Faith. All anyone ever wants to do is attack the church it seems. Get over it and find something else to do.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      There would not be reason to attack your belief if christians would learn not to attack peoples rights. When christians sit back and try to say that their way is the only way and then when they are confronted with a different view, scream foul...there's an issue. When they speak out against someone's right to do with their body as they wish, there is an issue. When they try to tell us how to raise our children, there is an issue. When they try to say who can love who, there is an issue. If it does not directly affect your life or is deemed criminal by the laws of the country, then live and let live. I was taught that respect is a two way street...if you want your rights respected then respect the rights of others.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:56 am |
      • Steven R

        So we label ALL who identify themselves as Christians as the radical type? I myself, don't care what you do. Marry whoever you want. You could marry a tree for all I care. All I ask is not to be criticized/labeled for my belief in Christ or to have your views /decisions affect my life.

        July 29, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • jason

      See I'm a millenial and I'm not sure I agree completely 100% with your points here. I truly believe that you have drive, desire, and a positive outlook on life. However, I've been in the church and without, I've worked in ministry and outside it. The "world" is not as sinful or lacking as many Christians portray it is. All around us, Christian or not, deist or not, there are people filled with drive, desire, a positive outlook, and wonderful compassion. Are there people outside the faith without these things? Sure, of course. But take a look around our churches, surely there are many within who are lacking as well. Christians do not hold a monopoly on drive, desire, positive outlooks, or morality; they simply don't. Like this article seems to be saying, the Christian church has dropped the ball on compassion and caring for others. It is not just Christians that have a desire to do good, care for others, or be constructive in the world. Wake up, Christians are not the only good in the world. It is this type of judgmental, blind naiivety to what the world is really like that drives my generation out of the church. Your comment is interesting because in the midst of begging for respect for your own views and claiming to respect the views of atheists you imply without faith or the "spirit" they lack strength, will, a positive outlook, morality and a desire to do good. It simply isn't true. Morality does not exsist just within the pocket of the world who identify as "Christian". When I look around I see no big difference between the non-Christian world and the Christian one. Some of the most compassionate, loving, caring people I know would not ascribe to any religious views; while some of the most judgmental, spiteful, angry, hateful people are Christians. Surely, this should not be so.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • jz

      Why would you assume atheism requires one to attack your right to believe in god? A lot of us really don't care. But I'm pretty sure one doesn't need to force their religious laws on other people to have their belief, which is the only thing we're really concerned about. Also, it gets kind of annoying when people imply that you need to believe in god to be a good person or want to do anything for the betterment of society.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • tony

      Just so long as you and your church members leave other peoples children alone.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  16. The Source

    A very enlightened article indeed! Very well put!

    I do take slight issue with: "Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus."

    I don't think we long for Jesus per say, for that would be idolatry and 'worshipful' and something he sought not. He and his teachings are right here with us. 'We' are Christ. I think what we really long for is that which Jesus reflected outwardly towards 'everyone' else. His unending love. His forgiveness. His compassion. His ability to form a coherent, logical, non-hateful and nonviolent, response to those who would sought to falsely tarnish the reputation that preceded him.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • jason

      An evangelical would consider Jesus, God incarnate, so idolatry it is not.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:50 am |
  17. Canderson

    Why are millennials leaving the church? Maybe it is the hypocrisy, prejudice, intolerance, and scandal that continues to plague it?

    July 29, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • g2-fea1f7a98ca653f68da8851871b2be19

      She basically said that. Did you even read beyond the headline?

      July 29, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  18. yoyo

    Interesting statement, Catholicism and its ceremonies seen as nonpretentious and genuine. I always ask why would god care about these silly ceremonies created by pretentious and self-annointed *men* ???

    July 29, 2013 at 12:24 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125
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.