Monday, April 4, 2016


According to Rachel Held Evans, the Millennial generation are no fools, even when it comes to churches seeking to keep young people in the pews.

"The reasons Millennials are leaving are more complex than a lack of cool," [Evans] said in an interview. "We’ve been advertised to our entire lives. We can smell B.S. from a mile away. So if you’re just trying to sell us a product, we can tell."
Emma Green. "Is Christianity Dark Enough for Millennials?"
When I read this, my first thought was: "Who can't?" I mean, it's not like they just invented advertising during my, my parents or even my grandparent's generation. Pretty much every living person alive in the United States today has been advertised to their entire lives. So it's likely that finely-tuned B.S. detectors are standard equipment for just about everybody.

There are a number of functions that churches serve, but the two that seem most germane to this article are a shared community based around common beliefs and values and an institution charged with reinforcing, and simply enforcing, a set of beliefs and values as the objectively correct ones to hold. I don't think that any particular generation has been particularly easy to take in by offering the latter disguised as the former, even if the slickly produced and glossy fliers that show up in my mailbox on a regular basis are a new phenomenon.

And while many people consciously seek out the community aspect of churches, the social control aspect is also very important, despite its somewhat conspicuous absence from the advertising circulars. People I know in the Millennial age cohort are no less likely than anyone else to respond to the fact that I don't attend church due to non-belief in deities with comments implying that I would be okay with a repeat of the Holocaust or stating outright that I'm going to Hell; I can count on my thumbs the number of times that someone has expressed a concern that I would be lonely without a community to be a member of.

Given this, it's unsurprising that churches, even when they soft-pedal the fire and brimstone in favor of getting with the time, don't see themselves as being in the business of pedaling B.S. Or that the church that young people flocked to back in the day is now considered to be a bastion of grandparent thinking - without the congregants ever having seen a change.

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