Millennials are often misunderstood and shouldn’t be scapegoats for the problem of youth who stay away from church, the author of Adoptive Church has argued.
Pastor Chap Clark, who for 21 years taught at Fuller Theological Seminary as professor of Practical Theology and Youth, Family and Culture, among other roles, told The Christian Post in a Monday phone interview that, in his experience, the narrative of “entitled millennials” is inaccurate.
“The attitude of people who are way more entitled than millennials are” is the most challenging factor keeping young people away from the church, said Clark, who is senior pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California.
Millennials are 22 to 37 years old in 2018, according to Pew Research Center.
“I have worked with young adults my entire career. The way millennials and young adults are being hammered is absolutely false in my opinion, it is exactly the opposite. Those who are entitled are the adults who are saying ‘what about me, don’t mess with my life. These kids are interrupting the life that I want to live,’” Clark added.
“The entitlement of adults and their self-centeredness, and their own commitments and their own sense of success and accomplishments is what’s killing young people because there is nobody there to guide them.”
Clark’s latest book, Adoptive Church: Creating an Environment Where Emerging Generations Belong, released in October, outlines where adults and church leadership has gone wrong.
It also suggests ways churches can reorganize in order to make teens and young adults feel like they have a place to belong.
Speaking more about one of the main problems, the author said that when adults, including clergy, believe that the church belongs only to them, what happens is that young people “are told they have no place, they are told they are not welcome.”
“They hear that message loud and clear everywhere they go anyway, but when it is attached to something as core as faith” they can sense from afar that the rhetoric of a loving community is just not true, Clark said.
“Christian churches have walked far away from the reality and the vitality of the Gospel. And therefore young people just go ‘it’s false, it’s a false story,’ and then they walk away.”
As he has in several previous books examining youth ministry, part of his “Youth, Family, and Culture” series, Clark navigates through the continued decline of young people identifying with faith in his book.
The former professor explains just how important it is to foster an adoptive church environment, where congregations not only welcome, but nurture young adults, and show them what the church can offer that other institutions can not.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov