Sunday morning rolls around again, and I get the early wakeup call from my father. “Get up, Brandee. Get ready for church.” My first
thought is to go right back to sleep, because I don’t want to go. It’s
not a case of Sunday-morning laziness; I’d just rather not be there,
and according to a study conducted earlier this year by the Pew
Research Center, two-thirds of young Americans between the ages of 18
and 29 agree with me.
Church isn’t appealing to me, and it never has been. I have vivid memories of sitting in the last pew as a
child with crayons and a coloring book for some sort of entertainment.
Since I’ve retired the Crayolas and coloring books and started paying
closer attention to the sermons, I discovered that some of the messages
in church are irrelevant to people of my generation.
Some of my closest friends are gay, but the pastor is telling me that "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women betwe..., but the pastor tells me that using condoms is a sin because it's a form
of birth control. I live in a world where women are the CEOs of
successful businesses and hold high positions in the government, but
within the walls of the church, female leadership is often absent. Only 10 percent of churches in the United States employ women as se....
These sexist, homophobic and conservative attitudes of the church are
what is causing young people to question their faith, causing Gen-Yers
to abandon the church in increasing numbers.
Many church principles simply don't reflect the views of young Americans. A recent study discovered that young people are more
accepting of homosexuality: 63 percent of young adults believe that homosexuality should be acc....
In most churches, discussing homosexuality is a taboo. "There's denial
about homosexuality in the church," said Boyce Watkins, Ph.D., founder
of the Your Black World Coalition. It's "even to the extreme where you have people who believe that if you pray enough, you will not be gay anymore," he adds.
We live in a society where open homosexuality is becoming common, but most in the church have yet to accept it. If God accepts us as we
are, then why do some homosexuals feel unwelcome in church? Skepticism
concerning church teachings about the Bible may be the reason 67 percent of young Christian adults say they don't read it.
"It's become more and more common on college campuses that people openly question who is God and how do we reconcile the question of
evil?" said Jamila Bey, an African-American freelance journalist and
atheist. After being a Roman Catholic for most of her life, Bey
recently decided to divorce her religion and declare herself to be an
Sometimes, stepping into church feels to me like going into a time warp, with all of the old-fashioned and conservative views being
enforced. In this day and age, gender roles have shifted, but sexism
continues to linger in many churches. When I go to church, I can't help
noticing that there is a lack of female leadership. Women are confined
to either being ushers or being in the choir.
"To some extent, sexism in the church is a reflection of sexism in our society, but I think it's even worse in church because the
environment is certainly a little more conservative," Watkins said. It
is this conservative environment that is causing young folks to stay
home. Only one-third of young adults say they attend worship services at ....
"Young people who are finding their voices are more apt to say, 'I
don't buy the church, it doesn't speak to me,' " said Bey, "and I think
the logical progression is that they are going to find community with
other free thinkers and non-believers."
So is there any hope for bringing Gen-Yers back to church? According to the Rev. J. Lee Hill, a youth minister at Riverside Church in New
York City, it won't be easy. In a recent interview with CNN,
Hill stated, "Church is difficult because young people today want to
engage actively; they just want to experience God." Young adults don't
want to worry about judgment or limitations when it comes to faith.
The Rev. Dino Woodward of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem believes that convincing more young people that the church has
something to offer starts with parenting. "Parents are allowing them
[young adults] to discipline themselves. If parents are coming to
church, they have to bring their children to church and show them that
there is a better way of life through the Christian way of life."
But as we come into adulthood, we have to make decisions for ourselves. Maybe if the church focused more on helping youth build a
stronger connection with God, and less on imposing social and political
views, our generation would return to the pews.