Religion is being practiced in alternative ways by young people.
Church attendance is at an all-time low in the United States and individuals would rather ask Google than their priest about life problems. This does not necessarily mean that millenials are entirely abandoning religion. They are adapting it to their lifestyles, including, but not limited to, non-practice. We have listed the most popular of these new ways.
Millennials are slowly encouraging new thought to worship. Informal Churches are now on the rise. Within these churches, the traditional format of churches is now a thing of the past. This can be seen in multiple churches all over the United States. For example, Ron Williams of GYM Church in Sanford, Fla. is a perfect example of this phenomenon. In his Church, guests are welcome to wear casual clothing as well as services in unconventional spaces to remove the stringent connotations that churches have obtained overtime. In addition, the church has tried to get involved with its community in other ways. “Church at the GYM holds its baptisms in members’ pools — events that turn into big backyard barbecues.”
A number of religious organizations with an online presence is increasing by the minute. With technology as an integral part of youth culture, it is only natural that religious groups will try to make their presence known in these spaces. It has proven to be quite successful for some religious organizations. One example comes from social media expert, Rabbi Laura Baum who in an interview with Huffington Post said “There are those people who prefer to check out our tweets on their phone or listen to our podcast. I don’t think the use of technology needs to be for everybody. But we have found a community online. Many of them have never felt a connection to Judaism before.”
Millennials have shifted the focus from active physical presence in religious spaces to online participation. This shift has allowed for people to come together in ways that stretch far beyond physical proximity and unify people from different parts of the world under religion.
There has been an increased trend in Millennials shying away from organized religion and more towards “spirituality” “Only about 40 percent [say] religion is very important in their lives. However, the same survey revealed that about 80 percent of millennials believe in God and increasing numbers identify with statements like ‘I feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being’ or ‘I experience a deep sense of wonder about the universe’.” This separation in thought allows for millennials to avoid organized religions, where issues concerning social justice and religious ideologies collide, and more towards an emphasis on issues regarding advocacy, environment, and philosophical thought, which is currently what is at the forefront of most of the millennial generation.
Some Millennials have decided to veer away from Religion altogether. In a survey of 35,000 American adults conducted by Pew Research Center, 78.4% identified as Christian in 2007, which significantly dropped to 70.6% in 2015. The survey also found nearly every branch of Christianity in the United States is losing members steadily. Some accredit this to the environment in which Millennials were raised. In an interview done by the Pew Research Center, Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology at NYU, elaborated on this concept:
“Many Millennials have parents who are Baby Boomers and Boomers expressed to their children that it’s important to think for themselves – that they find their own moral compass. Also, they rejected the idea that a good kid is an obedient kid. That’s at odds with organizations, like churches, that have a long tradition of official teaching and obedience.