We are currently experiencing an increase in religious “nones”. Millennials are religiously less affiliated than before. Many are less able to articulate their sense of spirituality and are falling back on the label of “spiritual but not religious.” The trend has been growing for a decade now. It has taken root in America with many youths not attending church services. In Africa, the trend is also taking shape. As Kuza, we have engaged some young people that claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” It begs the question of how millennials understand religion? In this article, we shall discuss various reasons why young people are against the idea of being affiliated to any denomination, and address their issues therein. Meanwhile, I encourage us to check out the blog Christianity is not a religion. I will refer you to more articles from our writings to avoid repetitions as we seek to answer the questions that trouble the millennials.
Definition of Religion Nones
How do the millennials understand the meaning of religion? Religion has been defined much in the world of academic discourse. Since not many people have sought why Christianity is not categorized in religious groups by its scholars. In summary, religion centres on man seeking to know God by his effort. Christianity acknowledges that unless God reveals himself, then no one can know him by his efforts. Hence it is about God coming down to reveal himself to humankind through Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2, John 1:1, John 1:14), the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) and also through nature (Psalm 19:1-6). Christianity is not truth discovered by human insight or ingenuity but received as revealed truth (John 1:14, Romans 1:16-17, 1 Timothy 2:3-4). In the pursuit of running away from religion, young people have become religious in the sense that they are seeking God on their terms.
But the millennials don’t view religion in the man seeking to know God on his own terms sense only. Anytime we talk of religion, they see dictatorship, they see lack of freedom, they see judgmental people. They see individuals who have placed high standards that they use to control others and lord it over to them. It is one of the reasons that many have decided to become what has been called “religious nones.” They have refused any affiliation to any religious group, and they range from Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and other faith institutions.
HUNGER FOR SPIRITUAL DEPTH AND MEANING
One of the justification statements of this group of people is that “they have found the depth and meaning in life”. They are against being called religious nones arguing that it never does justice to the depth of their experience. They have claimed that they are not leaving religion behind, but only that they are not being served by religious institutions anymore. They claim that two-thirds of them believe in God or higher power, and one out five pray daily. They claim that religion has not addressed their inward hunger for spiritual depth and not helped them to find meaning in life.
They pick values and practices of world religions to help them experience this depth and create an identity for themselves. It is one of the challenges they pose to scholars as they would not come out clean while debating with them. It is easier to engage someone who you know what they are and stand for, than someone who keeps their identity anonymous. Christianity has addressed the hunger for depth and meaning in life. It is good to note that there is nothing claimed by religious nones that a committed Christian has not experienced. Christianity which is a relationship with Jesus, gives you purpose, direction, the forgiveness of sin, and is not in vain.
DICTATORSHIP IN FAITH INSTITUTIONS
Many millennials, specifically in the Christian faith, have been grounded on wrong foundations. I remember growing under dictatorial leadership in my church. There was no space to breathe. Even being seen standing close to a lady was a “big sin” could lead to excommunication from church. A friend of mine converted from Jehovah Witness, and great hatred followed him from the sect. Muslim converts to Christianity are isolated from their families, and some have suffered a death sentence. Such a negative picture of the institutions of faith has been a good reason for millennials to move from such institutions to find love and acceptance elsewhere. My experience as a Christian drew me closer to the Bible and seeking a more profound spiritual experience from it than choosing to run away.
In the Bible, there are testimonies of many who experienced depth in their lives by seeking God more. No greater joy have I ever known than having a God who calls me a son and loves me regardless of my failures. If my faith rested on an institution, then I could not be in a relationship with God today. Any institution consists of infallible people with many issues of their own, setting regulations for their subjects else you suffer the consequence for not observing. Christianity is not about do’s and don’ts. I found my freedom and peace in being a Christian. A Christian is someone who resembles Christ in the manner they live Has God Lowered His Standards? Just because others don’t know how to attain Christ-likeness and are ignorant of the faith itself doesn’t mean that Christianity is wrong. Living up to God’s Standards – Part 1
This article serves to open our eyes on the millennials challenges and calls us to action. To the millennials, leaving the faith is not the solution. If you were founded in wrong teachings and have misunderstood the Bible over the years, we encourage you to reach out for help, and you will find answers to your questions. Reach out to us by sending us an email at [email protected] or by clicking the mail icon below.