4 ideas for changing the millennial disinterest in religion


I recently viewed an inspiring TED Talk by Rabbi Sharon Brous entitled, “It’s Time to Reclaim Religion.”  It is well worth carving out just over 16 minutes to view it. You can watch it here:

Based on the hundreds of conversations I have had with millennials I can say that the two edges (although not always worded exactly like Rabbi Brous chooses to word them) of “extremism” and “routine-ism” are inextricably linked to the often-volatile disinterest that millennials have for religion.

These two characteristics of religion are clearly two of the main factors for millennials claiming to be “spiritual but not religious” in their way of life. Millennials (all generational mindsets, really) avoid the institution of formal religion due to the widely apparent religious extremism that leaves everyone shaking their head in disgust and despair. Millennials also avoid the institution of formal religion due to the widely understood boorish and predictable take on everything thing from worship styles to a personal doctrinal conviction that so often leads to condemnation of others.

If the Christian church wants to engage millennials with a compelling and enduring purpose that bends the trajectory of decline toward one of vibrant incline, then it must take inventory of its behaviors and begin fashioning a new kind of Christianity marked, according to Rabbi Brous, by four key areas: wakefulness, hope, mightiness, and interconnectedness.


In what ways can your church bring these four key elements into the forefront of your conversations and planning?

Here are a few excerpts from my book called Gladhearted Disciples in which I suggest hope is one of the keys to connecting with millennials in a post-Christian culture. I hope it is fodder for further thinking and discussion within your church:

“… gladhearted disciples are followers of Jesus who are generous people looking into the future through a lens of hope, accepting but not settling for what the world has become, and yet determined to live in such a way that engages the world in Christ-centered mission, through the empowerment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with the purpose of bringing the redemptive reign of God in Christ into every dimension of life”

“What Millennials, and the generations to follow, need from the church and gladhearted disciples are meaningful conversations, dependable relationships, faithful leadership and mentoring, a commitment to missional discipleship, and a lasting promise of enduring inclusivity. More than all of these, for millennials, however, is a big concept of God. The smaller we make God seem, the less likely millennials are going to engage with the church. Each of these significant desires within the hearts and minds of millennials must be enveloped by ruthless truth-telling, hope, compassion, nontraditional thinking, diversity, complexity, beauty, deep-rooted values, and practical solutions to common problems.”