For years, the attendance of young people in worship gatherings has been in decline. The American Survey Center reported that Generation Z is the least religious generation yet. More than one-third (34 percent) of Generation Z are religiously unaffiliated, a significantly larger proportion than among Millennials (29 percent) and Generation X (25 percent). Fewer than one in five (18 percent) Baby Boomers and only 9 percent of the Silent Generation are religiously unaffiliated. But these numbers do not tell the entire story.
Springtide Research Institute's most recent report on The State of Religion and Young People: Exploring the Sacred, indicates that young people are looking for sacred experiences . . . they just might not be finding them in places of worship. The report also highlighted that it is not always the physical place that matters most for young people to have a meaningful spiritual experience. Instead, in this study, young people describe sacred moments as interrupting daily life— moments that are characterized by truth, wonder, awe, gratitude, and a sense of interconnectedness. Springtide reported that three main dimensions emerged in young people’s definitions and descriptions of sacred moments: personal, relational, and extraordinary. This is a critical insight as we consider how to engage Gen Z and Gen Alpha in spiritual formation and growth. The importance of understanding individuals, engaging in meaningful and ongoing relationships, and facilitating extraordinary experiences (rather than prioritizing programs) are key takeaways from this study. You can find the full report at Springtide Research Institute.
Dr. Jolene Erlacher is a wife, mommy, author, speaker, college instructor and coffee drinker who is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders for effective service!