When I was younger, I attended church and did not enjoy the experience as there was a lot of opposition and tension involved that I thought was due only to my church. Recently, I found out that many, if not all, churches have these issues with how the organization is run and who gets to decide what happens. An issue that kept coming up was keeping the younger generation involved in the church. Many churches are experiencing a decline in their younger populations and don’t really understand why. They try to implement new things such as programs specifically targeting the youth including youth ministers, younger music, and having them attend religious schools. At the same time, the congregation argues with itself over the cost of such things and if they are necessary. With every church, there is dissension in the ranks and they can never please everyone, but how they tackle this problem is very intriguing.
They want the youth to contribute more monetarily, but also know they are fleeing in droves. They want them to start out young, but are wary about the costs of targeted programs. They want to use youth ministers and music as tools to keep them engaged, but for what purpose? Do they want the younger generation to believe in God or simply to stay in the congregation and pay their dues? For organized religion cannot exist without those who support it and if they have no one to support them, they die. However, they never talk about the importance of just believing in God, for where is the value in that? I think those who are younger see this and choose to leave because they are not buying into the system anymore. As a kid, I believed in God, but it was the church and how it’s people acted that caused me to lose my faith. How could I believe in God when his most ardent believers had no love for each other?
The youth of today are rejecting organized religion and the churches know this, but they continue on as if it’s not the source of their problems. Honestly, I believe everyone is looking for spirituality and transcendence, and it is easy for many to fall victim to organizations that prey on this desire, but it is not being fulfilled. I just got done watching Going Clear, the documentary about Scientology and the one thing I got out of it was that people are searching for a greater meaning in themselves and the world and they are willing to subvert themselves for the answer. I think we will always need spirituality, but we may not need organized religion any longer. It’s been a long journey for me to come back to believe and that is my journey and I believe that is the right of everyone: for them to come to their own conclusions based off their experiences. Religion is believing in a set of rules and an organized religion sets to build a base from those rules. If religion keeps holding on to the beliefs in the rules instead of a belief simply in a higher meaning, they will continue to bleed members.