Younger Generations Are Separating From Christianity – Jacksonville
Father Zachary Brooks (right) and secretary Jo Ann Nelson of Trinity Episcopal Church, 359 W. State St., meet for morning prayer. Area churches are trying to get young people involved as more people stray from Christianity.
As young people continue to distance themselves from Christianity, Jacksonville’s churches are looking for ways to draw them closer.
Both in the United States and around the world, fewer people are aligning themselves with the church. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Christianity — for the first time in either country’s history — now is followed by a minority of people in England and Wales. A study published in September by the Pew Research Center found that, if current trends continue, the same will happen in the U.S. within the next 50 years.
The number of religious young people also is dwindling. A Pew Research Center study from 2018 showed that 66% of adults ages 18 to 39 were affiliated with a religious organization of some kind, as opposed to 88% of adults 40 and older. In the face of this, area churches are trying to turn the tide.
Don Jackson, pastor at Grace United Methodist Church, 400 W. Morgan St., said his church used to have quite a few young people attend prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Younger people are spiritual but disillusioned with organized religion, he said, adding that society has moved away from encouraging them to remain religious.
It is not a question of what the church has done “as much as how has the community responded spiritually and (helped) to nurture young adults to be involved in the life of the church,” Jackson said. Many young people are looking for authenticity and the opportunity for outreach but not finding it within the church, he said.
Young people also want church to be accessible to them at all times via online services and prayer groups that fit their schedule, rather than a set meeting time once a week, he said.
Tim Kruzan, pastor of City Church at 129 E. Vandalia Road, said around 100 people attend his church. Of those, youth pastor Rachel Flick said around 30 of them are Gen Z and Millennials. She said there has been a drop in Millennial attendance but a slight uptick in Gen Z attendance, with the church’s youth group expanding from four members to 12.