Why Is the Church Failing to Connect With Young People?

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A new survey found that half of young people between the ages of 13 to 25 believe religious institutions do not care about the issues that are important to them. Even though the Bible agrees, how is the church failing to connect?

The worldview of the young

A new survey has potentially cemented what a lot of people already speculated or felt they knew: The viewpoints of many churches and what is important to young people are at odds and may be driving younger generations, particularly Generation Z the away from religious institutions.

Depending on which source you refer to, Generation Z runs as young as 9-16 years of age and 24 at the top of the scale as of 2021. Millennials are considered to be between the ages of 25-40 and 2021.

Both generations are very similar in key social and policy issues, according to Pew Research.

The new survey conducted by Springtide Research Institute and released on October 25, 2021, revealed the most important matters to the 13-25-year-old age group it surveyed were racial justice, gender equality, immigration rights, income inequality, and gun control, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the survey, 71 percent of young people care about LGBTQ rights but feel that less than half (44%) of religious communities share their concerns.

“Our data show a clear disconnect between young people and religious institutions,” the Springtide Research Institute report stated.

Religion declining across all age groups

The latest available data in 2018 found 23.7% of Americans had “no religious affiliation,” the so-called religious “nones,” which is about 1 and 4 people. This number does not mean they did not have religious and/or Christian beliefs. They just did not belong to a church or denomination.

However, the true “nones” are about 15.3 percent, which means they don’t believe, don’t belong to any denomination, and don’t attend church or participate in religious activities.

Do young people still have a spiritual side?

According to the survey, 78 percent of young people consider themselves spiritual. However, only 47 percent belong to a religious community, and only half of those, 23 percent, attend religious services on a weekly basis, Raw Story reported.

“But even with this disconnect, our data don’t reveal a loss of interest in spiritual and religious questions among young people, or even a loss of faith,” the Springtide Research Institute report stated.

Protest as religion?

The Washington Post recently wrote an article entitled: “Faith leaders want to reach Gen Z, meet them in the streets.”

Interestingly, Springtide Research Institute’s report found that over half (58%) claimed they engaged in acts of protest as a religious or spiritual practice, with 39% saying they engage in spiritually inspired acts of protest on at least a monthly basis.

These practices would seem to indicate that young people are more focused on worldly concerns than adhering to religious standards, particularly those of the Bible.

The concerns of young people and the Bible are compatible

The Bible advocates for helping the poor, immigrants (sojourners), racial equality, loving others as yourself, that all people are equal in the eyes of God – in short – all of the issues that young people are concerned about.

How then, are religious institutions failing to connect with young people?

With these concerns being equal within the Bible, it would appear it is how religious organizations are communicating with young people and their messages that are not making the connection.

The answers to these questions and concerns must be addressed to ensure that future generations continue to be a part of the religious community and bring those “nones” enthusiastically back into the fold.