1. Faith isn’t always fun or easy.
Many millennials didn’t grow up attending church, being mentored and trained in their faith, or being taught that they have an obligation of service to God. Many of those who did attend church spent that time being ‘entertained’ rather than being educated and prepared for a faith-centered life. In other words, church, God, and faith has always been about them. When they reach adulthood, many millennials realize that church is no longer about youth group trips to the skating rink, coloring pages, and Christian rock concerts, it becomes easier to walk away from God.
When I was in high school and in college, I was looked on as the ‘church-y’ person. After all, I faithfully attended services, I was involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I only dated in groups, and I was in youth group. Yet, in reality until I was in my mid-twenties, I had never witnessed to anybody about Christ. I had done no mission work. I didn’t even have much scriptural knowledge.
2. The media and the public school system have made atheism clever and trendy.
If you were to believe what you see on internet memes, in many public school classrooms, and in the ‘news’, you might believe that people of faith are women hating, planet destroying, troglodytes who are incapable of critical thinking. Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, and others are portrayed as witty folk heroes rescuing society from certain intellectual doom. In the meantime, people of faith are held up to ridicule with their words frequently taken out of context to villainize and mock them.
“He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” Timothy 6: 4-5 ESV
3. They grew up in families that treated faith as a separate entity from family.
Many millennials are one, if not two generations into families where faith is not important to daily life. God and faith is something that is given a couple of hours of time on Sundays, and then he gets ignored again until another seven days have passed. Speaking for myself, other than grace before dinner, I do not recall my parents ever praying outside of church. I don’t recall them ever stating that they had made a decision on a particular issue because their faith called them to do so.
If had not been led to a life that is centered on Christ, becoming an atheist would have been easy for me. After all, I had no relationship with God. While I may have done or not done certain things because of my faith, I certainly didn’t keep the Lord foremost in my mind when I chose my path each day.
4. They become convinced that living by Christian standards is somehow intolerant.
Today, the very things that are center to 1. The Christian Faith and 2. A family-centered society, are being threatened. This threat has always existed, however it has now become normalized. It no longer exists on the fringes. It is in the mainstream and it is endorsed by many of the most influential people on the planet. People who attempt to change this in any way, even if just to politely offer a perspective that is not part of the mainstream is quickly labeled as being hateful, bigoted, or intolerant.
An older person of faith who has more life experience may not be moved by those labels. They recognize them for what they are. They are words intended to silence and deny freedom of speech. Unfortunately, many young people may not see that. These words, combined with a misguided notion of what compassion and acceptance means, can drive them from God.