Are Millennials Returning to Church, or Not?


Scanning the headlines for religion stories on Millennials and Gen Zers can be confusing. Are emerging generations in America abandoning faith altogether, or are they discovering spirituality? Are they open to religion, or are they anti-religious?

Jessica Heslam was published last week in the Boston Herald reporting an uptick in Millennial church attendance among Catholics. The headline, “Millennials Making Their Way Back to Church.”

If you read the column, you’ll find that the uptick is only anecdotal; Father Paul Soper says that Archdiocese of Boston doesn’t keep statistics. Homilies are being geared toward Millennials, more young adults were present at Holy Week services, and emerging adults who have relocated to Boston from other parts of the country are said to be maintaining a tie to their religious roots by participating in a Catholic parish.

An upcoming ordination service, where the largest number of seminarians in two decades will vow to serve the church, is another evidence that is cited to say that the church in Boston is bucking larger trends among Millennials in Boston.

Several Millennials are quoted in the feature piece, and the article is framed around the longing for community. That makes a lot of sense. Religious communities, particularly Catholic churches, would offer familiarity and connection. It would be a place that would offer a feeling of home in a new place, plus the opportunity to meet others with shared values.

In the same week, Kelly Frazier of World Religion News reported church membership in America is at an all-time low. The Washington Post featured a similar article.

How is your church faring with Millennials and Gen Zers?

There are churches that are connecting with emerging generations. Yours might be one of them. But the overall trend is one of decline. Millennials and Gen Zers are not only less likely to become members of churches, they are also more likely to claim no religious affiliation at all. They still remain open to spirituality, and some claim a personal faith.

But participation in an formal, traditional forms of Christianity is on the wane in American society and culture. As with every societal shift, there is a danger and opportunity.

Our Workshops to Go help you to understand emerging generations and better connect, serve, disciple, and evangelize Millennials and Gen Zers in your community.

That’s one resource. How are you seeking to grow in your capacity to minister to Millennials and Gen Zers? What are you learning? And how well are you connecting with emerging generations?