Millennials Don’t Go To Church? We Do, and Here’s Why You Should

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

Millennials aren’t going to church as much as prior generations. In fact, it’s at an all-time low with only 2 in 10 Americans under the age of 30 thinking that attending church is worthwhile or even important.

The numbers actually speak for themselves — 59% of millennials who were raised in the church, have dropped out. If this statistic isn’t shocking enough for you (or maybe it isn’t), 35% of millennials even have an anti-church stance. When asked why they don’t attend church, 40% of these millennials state that they find God somewhere else, and 35% say that they don’t find church relevant.

Well then. I personally am not one of these statistics. And I know I’m not alone. There are millennials who still go to church, are devout in their faith, and pray every day. Two of us are here to show you that if you are a millennial that defies the church static, we’re right there with you.

We go to church
Some of us try to go every Sunday, and some of us go whenever we can. We know it’s important to start the week refreshed, and attending church is a great way to do this. Plus, we want to spend part of our week thanking God for everything He has given us — we don’t want to take this for granted.

We pray
Life is hard. Adulting is hard. We pray to God to give us the strength we need, and the guidance we also need. We pray for those around us who are struggling. We pray for the things we want in life. And we pray to thank God for giving us another day, and of course for everything.

We believe God has a plan for us
When things get tough, we trust in God’s path for us. There are many paths we can choose in life, but we know that God’s path is the right path, and the one meant for us. We know that He only puts obstacles in our life that He knows we can handle. We know that He gives us exactly what we need, even if we can’t see it at the time.

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We want to recruit more millennials to the church
We don’t want them leaving the church, especially those who grew up attending church. We want millennials to speak openly about their faith, and partake in faith based events such as World Youth Day, or volunteer at faith based programs.

We partake in our faith traditions
Whether that involves observing Lent or attending services on church holidays, we’re part of it — and we want to be part of it. No longer is this a matter of family members insisting we participate. We’re not forced to, we do it because we want to.

We’ve participated in church activities
Of course, church is a place of prayer — but it is also a place to meet people of similar values and backgrounds and build community. And even have some fun at church events and socials! Many churches not only have youth groups but groups for young adults as well. Join them if you can.

We incorporate church teachings into our beliefs
The church teaches us to give back and help others. For feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and clothing the naked. We already know that many millennials hold these ideals close to their hearts, and are actively out making an impact on the world whether it be through donating to charity, or simply by advocating on social media. Plus, many churches offer opportunities to help you give back to your community.

 

 

This post was a joint effort by Michelle Ioannou and Mary Grace Donaldson, two proud, religious millennials. 

True Life: I Was a Church Camp Counselor

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

Yes,  you read the title correctly. I was a church camp counselor, and it changed my life.

I worked at Camp Saint Paul, a Greek Orthodox sleepaway summer camp from 2009 – 2014, only taking a hiatus in 2012 when I worked at another Greek Orthodox camp, Ionian Village in Greece. Yes, please feel free to take a second to judge the Greekness and how greatly I feed into my stereotype.

Now back to how church camp changed my life.

I was always somewhat religious—I was in Sunday School for my elementary and middle school years (though frequenting less and less as the years went on). I was part of the youth group at my church as a teenager and even sat on the executive committee my junior and senior years of high school. And you could always find me in church during Holy Week. But that being said, I was nowhere near as religious as I should have been; I had become disconnected from the church. And that’s where working at church camp came into play. Well, eventually came into play. It didn’t just happen off the bat.

Did I become a church camp counselor so I could become closer with my faith? Honestly, no. I did it because my friends were doing it. I did it because I loved children. And I did it because I wanted to get away for the summer. To put it in simpler terms, I became a church camp counselor for no reason at all that had to do with my faith.

Boy, was I silly.

Going to chapel services twice a day, sitting through rotations that included Orthodox Life and Liturgical Hour and of course attending liturgy on Sundays with my campers are just some of the ways I became closer with my faith. Do you know what really got to me, though? It was seeing both my campers and my co-counselors become closer in their faith. There’s just something so powerful about being around people who share the same religion as you—and who aren’t afraid to show it.

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Hi from Camp Saint Paul in 2014!

Becoming closer to my faith is just one of the ways that church camp changed my life. Working at a Greek Orthodox summer camp made me a better person. It showed me that there’s more to the world than just materialistic items. Do you know how refreshing it is to disconnect from social media for an entire month or two? Do you know how wonderful it is to sit up at night just talking under the stars with someone? Do you know how heartwarming it is to see that one struggling camper finally smile and enjoy the moment? None of these things involve the digital world, but all of these things change your life.

As if all of this wasn’t enough already, church camp also gave me some of the best friends I have. There’s just something wonderfully fulfilling about having friends who understand you—not only do they understand your beliefs, your morals and your values, but they have them as well. I know that these friendships I’ve made will last me the rest of my life; many of them have already survived the college years and the first couple of years of real life.

Yes, I was a church camp counselor. And yes, go ahead and judge me if you want. You can laugh, it’s fine. I’ve heard it all before. But does it matter? No. Because Camp Saint Paul changed my life. I watched it change the lives of my peers, and I especially watched it change the lives of campers. What more could you ask for?

My love for Camp Saint Paul and the positive impact it’s had on my life is so strong that it’s hard to put into words. I look back at those summers and they remain some of the best memories of my life. I am forever grateful for the time I spent in that beautiful place, and will always be proud to have been a church camp counselor.