Millennials Leaving the Church

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Millennials Leaving the Church

Millennial

In this classic episode, Darrell L. Bock, Kat L. Armstrong, Sam Eaton, and Nika Spaulding discuss millennials leaving the church, focusing on how to better engage with this demographic.

Transcript below:

Dr. Darrell Bock

Welcome to The Table. I’m Darrell Bock, executive director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And our topic, today, are Millennials’ take on the church, and this is a response to an article by the man sitting at my left, here, Sam Eaton, who wrote a piece called “12 Reasons Millennials are Over Church.”

Sam Eaton

Well, I wrote it [crosstalk].

Dr. Darrell Bock

It’s okay [crosstalk] yeah, you gotta take responsibility for it. So anyway, Sam is over at a ministry called Recklessly Alive – why don’t you tell us a little bit about that ministry?

Sam Eaton

Yeah, so I started a suicide prevention and mental health ministry, where I talk about my experiences with that; I’ve been writing a book. A lot of people don’t know, 2015 was a 30-year high for suicide rate in our country. And so I’m working really hard to change that, and give those people who’ve lost all hope the hope of Jesus.

Dr. Darrell Bock

Oh, that’s great. And you’re a public school teacher in Minneapolis, Minnesota?

Sam Eaton

Yeah, I teach K-5 elementary music – just, a lot of beautiful little kids who are in school right now.

Dr. Darrell Bock

That’s great, so, well, we thank you for coming all the way down from Minneapolis to come see us down here in Texas – give you a little warmth, you know? True?

Sam Eaton

Yeah, thank you. [Laughter]

Dr. Darrell Bock

You’re welcome – very good. And then, Nika Spaulding – now, I just got this long title for you. What is it? Director of Women’s Equipping and Curriculum at Watermark Church, here in Dallas, is that. . .Nika SpauldingYeah, it means I hang out with all the XX chromosomes at Watermark, that’s what that means.

Dr. Darrell Bock

Is that what it is? [Laughter]

Nika Spaulding

Yeah, so, lead the Bible studies, and hang out with the women [crosstalk].

Dr. Darrell Bock

Yeah, I know you do much more damage than that, so – [Laughs]

Nika Spaulding

I know – that’s for another time, yeah.

Dr. Darrell Bock

Yeah, exactly right, so, we’re glad to have you – I’ve been on their podcast, so I’m paying her back, now. [Laughter] So, anyway, so it’s great to have you with us, Nika. And then, Kat Armstrong, who I just found out is a Houstonian like I am. And I love your way you describe yourself: you’re a rookie parent.

Kat ArmstrongYes.

Dr. Darrell Bock

So, what exactly does that mean?

Kat Armstrong

I have a four-year-old, so, I’m pretty busy, these days, chasing him around. I mean, I work fulltime, but, yeah, I’m a rookie parent: I don’t know what I’m doing. [Laughter]

Dr. Darrell Bock

Okay, that’s good. So, we look forward to the results of that right down the years, exactly, right, when we’re in the post-Millennial generation, and they write a piece on why post-Millennials are over the church?

Kat Armstrong

Yes, we’re not saving for college; we’re just saving for therapy. [Laughter]

Dr. Darrell Bock

That’s great. And you also run a ministry called Polished – tell us a little bit about that.Kat ArmstrongI serve as the executive director, and I cofounded this nonprofit nine years ago, with another DTS grad. And we share the Gospel with young professional women that de-churched, un-churched, or over-churched.

Dr. Darrell Bock

I like that: “de-churched,” that’s an interesting phrase – I’m sure we’ll be talking a little bit about that, as we move along. Well, that’s our crew, here. Let me introduce what we’re gonna talk about. As I mentioned, Sam wrote a piece, a while ago, called “12 Reasons Millennials Are Over Church.” Now, I do a lot of speaking, and because I hang out in the seminary, I get asked a lot of questions about Millennials, when I speak. And it’s usually coming from an older generation, the generation that I belong to. And usually the question goes something like this – it’s expressed in a variety of ways, depending on how soft or hard the question wants to be asked, but basically the thrust of the question is: “Why don’t Millennials get it?” or, “What’s wrong with Millennials?” or whatever. And I find myself defending Millennials on a regular basis, because I hang out with y’all, and y’all are cool, and so –Nika SpauldingI know [crosstalk].

Dr. Darrell Bock

Yeah, just awesome, right? Just awesome. [Laughter]

Nika Spaulding[Crosstalk] we’re okay.

Dr. Darrell Bock

And the point I like to make is that there are sensitivities that exist in the Millennial generation, that somehow we missed those genes on our end, and they’re good traits, they’re things that people ought to be concerned about and ought to listen to. And then I slip in on the side that as a Boomer I’ve got a few concerns, too. [Laughter] So, anyway, so this should be a fun conversation. The article opens like this: “Only four percent of the Millennial generation are Bible-based believers. This means that 96 percent of Millennials likely don’t live out the teachings of the Bible, value the morals of Christianity, and probably won’t be found in a church.” And so, the article is an attempt to explain why, so you’ve gone through, really, 12 reasons that you think are aspects of why Millennials struggle with the church. And you’ve got some other statistics – further on it says, “Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile; 59 percent of Millennials raised in the church have dropped out; 35 percent of Millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.”

So they’re the least-likely age group of anyone to attend church, and this is so by far – this is something we hear about regularly. And Kat and I have gone through a period, after the election, in which we also discussed this issue more privately about what’s going on, particularly with Millennial women. So we’ll come to that down the road, but I’m just gonna dive in, okay? “Number one: Nobody is listening to us.” I am.

Transcript cont’d here

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