There are lots of articles and opinions out there about why young people don’t attend church and how Christianity is shrinking (in the U.S. and Europe, but exploding in the two-thirds worlds of Latin America, Africa and Asia). And as pollsters and scientific studies do, everything gets reduced to clusters and components like Millennials or Generation X and Y and of course, those aging baby boomers.
A few thoughts for what they’re worth:
*Religion is a really problematic word both historically and in the history of religions and when appraising societies and cultures today. Hardly anyone wants to be religious. Certainly we who occupy the Reformation end of things reacted against religion. Our foreparents were after something more authentic.
*who cares what pollsters say or conclude? I say that not because pollsters are wrong (sometimes they are but their systems of statistics and measurements are pretty spot on much of the time, otherwise those NFL Super Bowl commercials would be selling for a penny a minute). The authentic religious person (and yes, I’m using the word I just said is problematic but it’s a bit like using the word love; it is not exactly precise but what is the alternative?)…any way, the authentic religious person is not lining up votes for the truth or Truth. They are captured by the truth and Truth and they’d cling to it whether one or a hundred thousand persons shared a commitment to it. This, of course, begs the question about mega churches and Christianity-as-entertainment since these entities tend to share the capitalist view of things that more is better and bigger is better. Try telling that to Jesus who insisted on telling parables about mustard seeds and leaven and a lost coin.
*Millennials may have some distinctive aspects about them that set them apart from other groups of persons in this culture. So? I mean, these are important but this can be said of every group. We’re all distinctive. But when it comes to squaring one’s life over and against the cosmos; when the time arrives for sorting out grievances, wrongs committed, violations and trespasses of the human spirit and dignity; when a loved one is shattered by this world hard as concrete; well then. We are all of us human in those moments. And the goat cry of loneliness (as Thomas Wolfe described it) wells up in our throats and we seek something other than the the tick-tock maze of a culture in love with death.
Step out of the maze some Sunday. Go ahead. Step into a holy place, a holy time and peer over the frost line and barbed wire. We’re here. God is Present. ~See you on Sunday