Millennials Have Turned Away From ‘Cool’ Christianity, But Traditional Churches Are Making A Comeback

As churches become more political and attempt to rebrand themselves as trendy, younger generations will continue to leave the church.

Millennials need the church, now more than ever, but they need the church to just be the church. Concert entertainment, coffee, and friends can be easily found. But as Evans wrote, “Church is the only place you can get ashes smudged on your forehead as a reminder of your mortality.” If churches return to the liturgy and tradition that has always sustained them, the pews will fill back up again. Until then, Millennials and other generations won’t find what they’re really looking for.


Nearly every study tells us that Millennials are unconcerned with religion and feel unconnected to any sort of faith. But could it be that this same generation is actually returning to the traditional church?

Yes, 18-to-35-year-olds are still leaving mainline pews in ever-increasing numbers and some are leaving the faith entirely. But many are leaving in search of a different kind of church — a church that is traditional, reverent, and decidedly uncool.

There are more than enough statistics to remind us that each generation cares less about religion than the last, and that Millennials have far outpaced them all.

Research by the Pew Center, the Public Library of Science, and the Barna Group confirms those suspicions. It tell us that Millennials are quickly evacuating the church. They pray less, attend services less often, are less reliant on religion, and are less religiously affiliated than their parents and grandparents were at their young age.

Most recently, a particularly concerning poll by the PLOS found that Millennials are not just less religious, but also less spiritual. Researchers concluded that the results indicate, “A movement towards secularism among a rapidly growing minority.”

However, many individuals are leaving the church because it has failed to fulfill their spiritual needs.

Nicholas Hahn, editor of RealClearReligion, believes that numbers decline when the church ceases to be the church. Today this happens when churches become over involved in politics and when churches attempt to be hip and relevant.

“They aren’t looking for politics from the pulpit, they aren’t looking for entertainment from the pulpit. What they are looking for is prayer and spirituality from the church,” Hahn said.

Information from the Barna Group reflects this desire for church tradition. More than 40 percent of those 18-to-29-year-olds “have a desire for a ‘more traditional faith, rather than a hip version of Christianity,” the report stated.

Younger generations get lost when the church tries to cater to them.

“A lot of churches are trying to pander to the youth and it comes off looking ridiculous. Pastors are trying to be the cool step-dad, trying to gain favor with kids that aren’t his,” Hahn explained.

Instead, Millennials need, like all people, for the church to sustain their spiritual lives.

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