Congregation at Duke Chapel

Young Adults, Millennials, and the Church

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation. [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the Xiph.org codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Young Adults, Millennials, and the Church

presentation at Adult Forum by
Anna Shea and Rev. McKennon Shea, Director of Admissions, Duke Divinity School
February 24, 2013
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Generation Titles

  • The Greatest Generation- pre 1928
  • The Silent Generation- 1928-1945
  • The Baby Boomer- 1946-1964
  • Generation X- 1964-1979
  • Millennials- 1980-2000

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Generation X

  • 1964-1980
  • Defined mostly in response to Baby Boom generation
  • Stereotypes v. Reality

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Millennials

  • 1980-2000
  • Possibly largest generation in history
  • Pew Forum: “Connected. Confident. Open to Change.”

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Do You Sleep with Your Cell Phone?

Percentage who have ever placed their cell phone on or right next to their bed while sleeping. bar graph showing All 57&, Millennial 83%, Gen X 68%, Boomer 50%, Silent 20% graphic separator with some purple circles

Millennial Attitudes Towards Church

    • Most religiously unaffiliated generation

graph of generational church affiliation rates

    • Least likely to go to church services

graph of generational church attendance rates

  • Surprisingly traditional in religious beliefs

http://www.pewforum.org/age/religion-among-the-millennials.aspx graphic separator with some purple circles

National Study on Youth and Religion

  1. Most American teenagers have a positive view of religion but otherwise don’t give it much thought.
  2. Most teenagers mirror their parents’ religious faith
  3. Teenagers lack a theological language with which to express their faith and interpret their experience of the world.
  4. A minority of American teenagers — but a significant minority — say religious faith is important and that it makes a difference in their lives.
  5. Many teenagers enact and espouse a religious outlook that is distinct from traditional teachings of most world religions — an outlook called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Dean, Kenda Creasy. Almost Christian, Oxford University Press, 2010. graphic separator with some purple circles

The Congregation and Young Adults

  • Positives:
    • High, steady attendance sends the message of a well-attended, thriving religious experience
    • Lack of particular denominational affiliation can be a welcoming attribute
    • Liturgy speaks to the mystery of religious experience
    • Both distinctive as a Christian worship experience and community, but diverse and open to a variety of ideas and backgrounds
    • Young adults in visible leadership positions
  • Challenges:
    • Tendency towards anonymity
    • Lack of family and geographic anchors
    • No well developed system of social and educational opportunities specifically for young adults

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The Congregation and Young Adults

  • Ways Forward:
    • Personal welcome and invitations
    • Start from within
    • Balance of generation-specific and intergenerational opportunities