LifeWay Research’s recent survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds showed that 72% of them are “really more spiritual than religious.” Spirituality is good. But there’s a catch. (There always is).
“65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.” How can you be spiritual without prayer? I would argue that you can’t. We have to pray to reach the spiritual. Praying is certainly not the only way to be spiritual, but it is one of the primary ways we build relationship with God. “Living kindly” or “being one with ourselves” is not enough. That’s not spiritual; that’s humanitarian and egocentric. (Yes, you can be both a humanitarian and egocentric.) We have to commune with God to truly be spiritual. Otherwise, we are just being good humans. Being good humans is indeed good, but we can never be “good enough” to be accepted by God. We need Jesus. So how are we going to convince people to pray?
“65% rarely or never attend worship services.” What’s wrong with our church services? Are they dry? Sometimes. Are they boring? Sometimes. Are they just a big show? Sometimes. Someone searching for the spiritual should be able to find it in our churches—in our communities. If we are not demonstrating authentic community in our churches, we are missing the point of being the church entirely—being Jesus to our world. So I don’t think the problem is “them,” it’s “us.”
“67% don’t read the Bible or sacred texts.” To most people my age—yes, I am in this age group in case you couldn’t tell by my cute photo—the Bible is boring. To 18- to 29-year-olds, the Bible is this old thing that their grandfather, or worse, their parents, read. To this generation, the Bible seems full of genealogies, laws and odd stuff, like why not to boil goat’s milk (that’s really in the Bible). But the Bible is not the problem, it’s “us.” I am tired of us making excuses for biblical illiteracy. I am tired of people saying, “Well, they really should read their bibles more.” What are we going to do about it? It’s our problem too. We haven’t shown people why the Bible is fascinating and life-changing. If we don’t show them that, they won’t ever read it. If you ever wonder why I edit Bible Study Magazine, and why I am so passionate about showing people that the Bible is life-changing, this is why.
But how can people claim to be spiritual without God? In a world where “religion” has taken precedence over a relationship with God, seeking the spiritual without religious systems seems logical. My generation is saying: “Why deal with religion, when I can decide for myself? Why deal with religion, when I can ‘find myself’ without the church?” Seeking God without prayer, the Bible or the church is a waste of time, but what can we expect of people if we don’t show them another way? How can we show people the infinite God in everything, if we don’t demonstrate our relationship with Him?
Source: Cathy Lynn Grossman, "Survey: 72% of Millennials 'more spiritual than religious' "(USA Today).