Scot McKnight posts on the recent book by Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. I won't comment on the book itself since I have not read it, but I list some of their significant points along with a conclusion:
1. Young adults are less religious, but what does this mean?
2. 12% in the 70s and 80s were unaffiliated; now 25% are. But this is the same number as with other age groups.
3. Currently, 22% of young adults are evangelicals; that's up from 21% in the 70s but down from 25% in the 90s.
4. Negatively, unaffiliated has increased for young adults.
5. Positively, the number who are affiliated with churches has remained the same.
6. Those affiliated with Evangelicals, Black Prots, and RCC are the same as in the 70s. (Mainliners are down.)
7. No sign of cataclysmic or big changes.
Big point: young adults have been less affiliated for a long time; when they get married and have children they return to their faith. Part of the life cycle is reflected in this.Their conclusion:
Overall, then, the preponderance of evidence here shows emerging adults ages 18 to 25 actually remaining the same or growing more religious between 1972 and 2006-- with the notable exceptions of significantly declining regular church attendance among Catholics and mainline Protestants, a near doubling in the percent of nonreligious emerging adults, and significant growth in the percent of emerging adults identifying as religiously liberal (101).
So it would appear contrary to popular consensus that Millennials are not heading for the sanctuary exits in droves overall, but we mainline Protestants are indeed losing the younger generations.
This mainline Protestant pastor wants to know why.