Why Millennials Are Sick Of Church

There are literally thousands of articles online about why the millennial generation is disillusioned with church, church culture and church politics. And while I applaud the attempt to wrap one’s head around the issue, I’ve noticed that most of the articles seem to be written by people who know nothing about the millennial generation. Weird.

I’ve talked with thousands of young-people over the years who have told me, “I’m just sick of church.” I’ve heard everything under the sun when it comes to one’s reasonings for leaving, and I believe many of them carry a lot of heavy truth. Here are some of them…

1. “It’s not authentic.”

2. “It’s too corporate.” 

3. “I don’t like the political side.”

4. “I feel like I can’t be open about my struggles.”

5. “I hate the cliques.”

6. “It’s too judgmental.” 

7. “Their attempt at being relevant comes off as cheesy.”

8. “They don’t spend enough time outside of their building.”

9. “They aren’t really welcoming of people who are different from them.” 

10. “They focus too much on what they know instead of who they are showing love to.”

And while I believe not all churches deal with the complaints I mentioned above, it’s safe to say there are many who probably do. That’s why I’m writing this. This needs to be discussed.

Authenticity Is Key

If churches want to see more millennials walk through their doors, they need to stop trying to entice them with free stuff, and instead allow their spaces to be filled with authentic relationships and transparent conversations. The Acts 2 church was a perfect example of this.

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”—Acts 2:42-46

Some people say there is a decline in millennial church attendance, while others say they don’t see much of a change at all. We must realize that just because millennials aren’t showing up to church buildings doesn’t mean they aren’t part of a thriving community of believers, or are without a biblical relationship with God.

Millennials aren’t looking for brighter lights. Millennials aren’t looking for more free coffee. They want Jesus founded authenticity, a safe-place to share burdens, real answers to real questions, and a community of action.

—Jarrid Wilson


What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Published by Jarrid Wilson

Husband, Father, Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship & Author of a few books.

42 comments on “Why Millennials Are Sick Of Church”

  1. I respectfully disagree, as a millennial, with your reasons. Love your mission man, but I don’t think those are the reasons millennials aren’t showing up to church. I’m very engaged with my church as a 20 year old, and I love church and wish more people would go. But I think what makes millennials turn away from church is because society, especially with our media driven culture, makes you feel like an outcast as a believer. You’re just viewed as stupid if you believe in God. The norm is to party it up, sleep around, and that if you believe in a book that’s 2,000 years old you’re just dumb. Our society is extremely politically correct and with social media playing such a big role in millennials life, going to church gives you a certain image and label. Also, especially since society is pushing for sleeping around and partying it up, millennials know they can’t engage in a “typical teenage lifestyle” if they want to follow Jesus. The cross is a confrontation. I agree with calling to love everyone and trying to get everyone to the church, but sadly the Truth is a difficult Truth that most millennials aren’t willing to take up because it’s not what popular society and their college friend group thinks is cool.

    1. I think there’s two points. Your side is definitely another side to it. I am about to turn 20, have been engaged with a church for four years. Here I am in my fifth year in my Christian walk and I found myself led to another church. While I love my new to death and wish to be involved, time constraints restrict me. A few of the points Jarrid brought above are exactly why I left my old church, and why I find myself hesitating to be involved fully with my new church, because my old church left a lot of scars due to those points above not just for myself but others as well.

      I work marketing and recruitment for my university and while we are media driven, believers are still able to find their niche and I think that’s where a lot of places fail to show. I am an intellectual Christian and I make my point to show both sides to that if I post online. Yet, I totally agree with the norm points and how the cross can be a confrontation. In the end the faith is work. It is effort. Like any other relationship, more than anything millennials are either noncommittal or hesitant in committing to something.

      Some parts of the reasoning above people use can be a two-edged sword. One side: laziness. Another: not wanting to be caught up in an illusion that isn’t true faith.

      I just wanted to share another perspective :)

    2. Vickie, I agree a lot with what you say. I’m a baby boomer and I find people are shying away from publically proclaiming Jesus in their life for fear of what the politically correct will think of them. Jarrid’s reasons also are valid.

    3. Vicky, I think you have a most excellent discerning Spirit.
      …..Keeping ourselves from being corrupted (enticed) by the world is also a challenge.
      …..Being surrounded by believers who encourage you in your walk and plugging into something God is doing helps to keep us on the right path.

  2. Sadly this is the reality for every church no matter what ethnicity or race you are. I think that we should pray for a real change.

  3. The reason I stopped going to church was… around 2006-7 I was at church and the pastor stood up and said, “Now guys, you’re really skimpin’ on the collection plate.”

    Like… whaaa?!!! After that I never went back.

    Then, a few years later, I went to a different church. What did this pastor start talking about? He was telling us that when we’re in need we need to ask God and he’ll provide. Well, after he preached that to us he then said how the church needs money. I thought this was some kind of sick joke. I stop going to the first church because of the “money,” and now this church was asking for money.” Was it just me or was God giving me a sign??

    Well, I never went back. That was a few years ago… well, probably about 6 years.

    Anywho, a few weeks ago my friends asked me to go to church with them and their kids. They knew why I stopped going to the other two, and they said their church was different. So, there kids get asking me to go, so I went, for the kids.

    Whelp, we get to the church, get the kids to Sunday School and we go and sit down. Pastor starts talking and says he’s got a “special” day because his sister was going to be talking about her experience on a mission. Whelp, she started talking and guess what the whole thing was about… that’s right… MONEY. She kept asking about getting money for the church so they can go on more missions.

    Well, once it ended everyone got up to leave. As soon as we got out the door my friends (with a look of horror on their faces) told me how sorry they were and that they have NEVER asked for money… EVER, after all the years they’ve been going.

    Now, if that wasn’t a sign from God then I don’t know what is.

    So, that’s my reason for not going to church. They all seem to be MONEY HUNGRY… only when I show up. Weird…

    1. They weren’t forcing you to give is what I’m understanding.
      They were asking everyone to give, and if you want to then you want to… if you don’t think it’s something God is asking from you then don’t give your money. Let’s hope and assume that the congregation prayed about asking for money. Yes, God is our provider but how else will the church be helped if not through God’s children?

    2. But what is wrong with talking about money? God’s church needs money to function. The bible speaks about money. God has blessed us with and provided us with money. I suppose it’s a sensitive topic, but not one to be avoided. I obviously wasn’t at any of those church services so I wouldn’t know if money is the only thing they EVER focus on, cause that wouldn’t be right, but I somehow doubt it.

    3. I admit that there are churches and preachers out there that twist the message of Jesus for their own gain. Does that mean we should avoid teaching on what Jesus said about money? If you read the New Testament, Jesus talks about wealth and money to his disciples so that they would be aware of the danger of being owned by what you own and the importance of having a perspective beyond yourself and your stuff. Unfortunately the model of church we have grown up with doesn’t reflect that at times with building projects and facility costs and salaries. I personally know importance of this teaching of Jesus about money and find it just as valuable in my life as any teaching on anger, lust or forgiveness. Read what Jesus says about this topic for yourself and go from there.

    4. Hi David,
      I am sorry your experience with the church has left you with a constant negative experience and a money hungry impression. From my personal experience, I was always taught that the reason we tithe is not because of the church, but to give back to God even just a portion of the endless blessings He has given us. The reason any of us have good jobs and live the lives we are able to live are solely because of Him, and the least we can do is give Him back a portion of what He has provided to us. He gives graciously, and He also takes away. So we tithe to say, “Thank you, Father, for your constant provision and care.” To give back to the Father shows a great trust in Him that pleases Him and makes Him want to continue to provide. Please read “The Widow’s Mite” in the bible–Mark 12:41-44–I pray it answers any questions you may have.

    5. Thanks for the responses, y’all!

      Words are powerful… we all know what the Bible says about our tongue… “It’s like a rudder and will direct our ways.”

      For the first church, the way the pastor said it was horrible. “Now guys, you’re really skimpin’ on the collection plate.” I’ll never forget those words. How would you feel if that’s what your pastor said? It was an insult.

      Second church… I just felt it was a sign from God. Do churches talk about money a lot??

      And the third a few weeks ago… my friends said they’ve been going there for years and have NEVER heard their church as for money. I go and that’s all they’re doing is asking for money.

      I understand the collection plate. I understand churches need money to operate. But they way they ask… especially the first church… ugh!

      One of my favorite charities to donate to is our local City Mission. They ask for money, but not directly. They send out a monthly newsletter to let us know where the money is going and give us stories of people who have changed their lives around. We actually get to see God’s work.

      I guess I just keep thinking it’s some kind of sign from God. Though, I’m not sure what it means…

    6. Maybe it is a sign from God, and someone isn’t getting it.

      Tithing is a hurdle for a lot of people. You pray about it, and see what God says. You can also tithe your time/efforts/talents. Whatever you do, do it all unto the Lord.

      All ministries that exist need money to operate. Sometimes it’s easier to throw some money at a project…..to support the people with the passion, than to actually go to Africa and get dirty and live in less than your used to standards.

      Just know, God does not need YOUR money, but you will come to realize that you’ll have a heart change once you start giving.

      Pray about it. Shalom!

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