Are Millennials the Lost Generation? A Review of Abandoned Faith
I have heard about the rise of the Millennials for the vast majority of professional career. And, as one of the youngest GenXers, born just a couple years before the commonly accepted Millennials origin date, I’ve had a unique perspective.
On the one hand, I am the apathetic Xer. Although, and on the other hand, I am the head in the clouds GenY idealist. Interestingly enough, I have always found that I identified with my grandparent’s generation more than I did with my own.
Yes, we have heard much about the Millennials, though. But, it might be surprising surprise many people if they were to learn that the oldest of the millennials are about to enter their forties.
Yeah, not all Millennials are the twenty-something kids that refuse to move out of mom and dad’s basement. How’s that for crushing stereotypes?
I share all this as a preface to a review of the book, Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez. I was provided with a review copy of by NavPress/Tyndale House Publishers and am happy to provide that here with some additional thoughts.
Why have Millennials Abandoned Faith?
Here’s the deal… the Millennials are not the first generation to abandon their faith, nor will they be the last. They are merely the most recent. And their worldviews are drastically different from that of the generations that came before them. McFarland and Jimenez do a fine job of offering a caring overview of this generation that is timely and filled with scripture, stats and practical ideas for connecting with Millennials.
Though is is heartily grounded in academic studies and research, as the authors point out, it is not intended to be an “academic book written from a distance.” They can say this because they have spent many years and have countless experiences walking the talk. Many of those stories make their way into the narrative and help support their positions.
That said, McFarland and Jiminez dedicate a lot of effort to suggesting the breakdown of the traditional family dynamic and the attempts to “dumb down” church as the culrits for Millennial sheep wandering from the flock. That’s because these two elements have led to homes and even churches that do little to demonstrate what it means to be Gospel centered and focused on discipleship.
In short, there is no transfer of faith from one generation to the next.
That’s a big deal!
What to do for Millennials That Have Abandoned Faith
The authors of Abandoned Faith point out that the Millennial generation is one that has been “stuck in adolescence a lot longer than any previous generation.” It seems, at times, that we all are waiting for the Millennials to finally grow up. As a result:
… your (Millennial) son or daughter has an underdeveloped faith. So be hopeful that the seed of faith still has time to grow. Meanwhile, focus on getting a better understanding of why your son or daughter has walked away from the faith.
This understanding isn’t going to just show up, though. Perhaps it will begin with getting a stronger understanding of your own faith. Perhaps it will mean intentionally seeking answers to the very same questions about faith that your kids are asking. It may also take a certain degree of empathy by learning about a generation who values people over tradition, honors service over safety, chooses causes and community over comfort, and has little time for rigidity.
These, of course, are just a few examples to what is no-doubt many. Because of the environment they have been raised in and the types of changing family dynamics they’ve witnessed, they think, work, and play differently than any other generation. They look for meaningful work, they collaborate more, they are connected, seek social justice, accept (and expect) diversity, and are quite likely to say they are “spiritual by not religious.”
This latter fact might discourage some. However, it shows they have a longing to better understand their value in the world and the greater context. They need and look for mentors to help them learn about and know Jesus.
What a Parent Must do to Help Children Who Have Abandoned Faith
In a lot of ways, this book is more of a parenting fieldguide than it is about the Millennial generation. If you are looking for a silver bullet program your church can deploy to reach the lost generation, don’t look here. Abandoned faith is less about the Millennial generation, and more about how parents can take steps for moving forward. If their children are in the GenY age range and have left or are considering leaving the church, that’s especially true.
That’s not to say the book is insignificant. Quite the contrary. It does a fine job of positing many of the factors that have led to the Millennial’s disenfranchisement with the church. Then, it offers real-life context to help provide understanding about why that is the case. And finally, it brings together all the insights and information to provide a direction forward.
Abandoned Faith could be a strong option for a small group study if you find that your church has a large contingent of parents distressed over their grown child(ren)’s lack of Christian maturity. Similarly, it is a good primer for parents of young children as a means for helping them thing through the life-long responsibility for raising their offspring with a directive of Biblical discipleship in mind.
Download the first chapter of Abandoned Faith
About Chad Gramling
Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.