Our Emptying Church

Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church and I want to know why. Two prominent Christian researchers, David Kinnaman and George Barna offer some suggestions in Kinnamen’s recent book, You Lost Me.

Over the course of this past year, I have been on a meaningful and difficult faith journey. Diving into scripture and prayer, I have listened to influential male and female voices speaking on various faith topics, I have studied the characteristics of this generation of twenty somethings, and dialoged with many about it. I’m a deep thinker, a type A, a non-idler… my faith, if nothing else in life, must be my own.

Why are so many Millennials leaving the church?

Any good researcher knows that remaining objective is the first key to unbiased research. I confess that my deep-rooted faith may bias me to some degree. Despite that, I want to use a new blog series to delve into discussion about why our churches are losing the next generation that would have sustained them. I’ll be posting weekly in a new blog series called: Our Emptying Church

You should keep up with this series if any of the following apply to you:

1) You are a church leader, campus minister, or lay minister who is interested in the future of the church.

2) You are a twenty-something who has left the church or is thinking about leaving it for any multitude of reasons.

3) You have been hurt by the church and you aren’t sure that you want anything to do with this Jesus fellow.

4) You love the church and want to see it persist and thrive in the coming century.

5) You work with twenty-somethings and wonder why it’s so hard to get any commitment out of us.

6) You are a parent of a twenty-something and you don’t understand their frustration or apathy toward the organized church.

I’ll be discussing characteristics of my generation of twenty-somethings and I’ll be offering some insight about how to walk alongside us. I’ll be examining some hot topics that have probably come up in your conversations lately. I’ll also be bringing up David Kinnaman’s research.

I am making a commitment to be honest and vulnerable in this series. You may be offended, you may be encouraged, you may be frustrated, and you may be enlightened.
But my distinct hope is that you’ll stick with me, dialogue, and emerge with a greater understanding of something you didn’t understand before. I ask you to keep an open mind and to consider other’s opinions with patience, wisdom, and kindness. I pray that I will learn as much from you as you learn for me. Deep in my bones, I am excited about the future of the church.

Hear me very clearly, the future of the church will take ALL of us trying to understand each other.

I invite you on this journey with me. May we have traveling mercies along the way.


13 thoughts on “Our Emptying Church

  1. Kate, this is so interesting. Grant and I have been trying to find a church. Here are two things that I struggle with personally. 1. The issues of gays and the church. i have a good friend who became phyisiclly ill when he had to enter a church for our mutual friends wedding. I cant stand that a someone I love could be so excluded from gods love and gods people. I dont understand the exclusion. 2. I struggle with the idea of there being only one god, given that there are so many religions. Any thoughts? ~Julia (uconn)

  2. Hi! This is Amber from the CU library (the dark haired one…not sure if you remember me). I came across your blog when I was on the library's Facebook page and was intrigued by this topic. I'm 29 and have been a member of my church for 2 years, but lately I (and my fiance, who is 28) have been struggling to go to services. We've discussed it, and we think it's because we're in kind of this no man's land. We can't join the married people small group yet, the single people small group is full of people in their early 20s and makes us feel awkward, and there aren't any other small group options available. I know you're not talking about a specific church in your posting, but I do think there's a correlation between what we're experiencing and the church as a whole. I'd love to see the church thrive, and hopefully, having some forthright discussion about what's going on now will help it do so!

  3. Julia! I love that you commented…thank you for your voice here. And thanks for being honest. I too struggle with the issue of the churches treatment of the gay community. I've seen it firsthand and it hurt. It hurt badly. I'm sorry about your friend; I do not believe he is excluded from God's love. Going forward, it is my prayer that the church reconcile itself with the gay community. I have much hope that this will happen and I will not be silent until it does.This is something that I plan to write on in this series… so keep up with me, would love your opinions. Also, religious pluralism is definitely a hot topic these days, especially with our generation. I'll weigh in on this one too. Thanks again for your comment. Much love to you, Grant, and Marlowe!

  4. Amber! Of course I remember your smile! Love that you commented (we need to be fb friends). Thanks for your comment and for telling about your church experience. I can certainly identify in being in the no man's land. I don't necessarily fit in either, which can be lonely when there seems to be crowded class full of friends who share close community. I absolutely agree that there is a correlation between the church and it not meeting the needs of our generation. I think this is mainly because the church doesn't really understand us. This is why I am looking forward to the dialog on this series and would really LOVE to continue hearing your voice here. Blessings to you on your journey.

  5. can't wait to hear your views on this!! As a recent church hopper, I have found it hard to find a community of people. The last church I was involved in, I asked some deep questions and was kind of, not shunned, but there was a silence surrounding it. I think our generation has a lot of questions, we are a need to know society, and some of the questions may not have answers. It makes it difficult, but not un-doable. If any of that makes sense. Love you Kate!!

  6. Katie– it's lonely not having a community, isn't it? I understand. I agree that we have many questions and the sometimes doubt is not embraced in the church. I'm hoping we can talk to each other without talking over each other.

  7. I really like everything about this! I can not wait to read more. The comments you have received pretty much echo my own thoughts. I live in a world of gray when so many seem to live in one that is black and white. How do I go from here when now the word, "church," echoes with nothing but rejection, loneliness, and pain?Thank you for your willingness to really open up discussion. I look forward to more of it. Cheers! 🙂

  8. Thanks so much for your comment.. I'm very glad to be dialoging with you. I'm so sorry that the church has caused you pain. I don't believe this is the way of Jesus. I think there is a better way. Please know you aren't alone and your voice is welcome here. Hoping to get to know you and looking forward to this dialog as we embrace this better way. Grace and peace to you.

  9. Kate, I love that you are not afraid to broach the tough issues in life and especially this issue of the necessity of the church to reach out & meet the needs of your generation! I, too, look forward to this discussion and feel that it is most timely and needed. I hope that I can better understand not only the needs of the twenty somethings but also have eyes that stay focused on the goal: Jesus Christ and have a heart willing to say "whatever it takes!". I personally have learned so much from you! I love that fact that you see problems and issues and then you try to do something about them. I have learned that just because "that's the way it has always been done" is not a valid response! I have also learned from you that "loving until it hurts!" is never the wrong approach…not always the easiest…especially when we disagree but always the approach Jesus took…He always spoke the truth but many overlook the "with love" part.

  10. Thank you for this encouragement and for being so willing to listen and create dialogue. I think these are the first steps to reconciliation and they are as Biblical as they are beautiful. I am humbled that you have learned from me as I have learned much from you too. I pray we will continue seeking the way of Jesus and not the way of traditions. Peace and love.

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