Like most mainline churches, the ELCA is having trouble keeping its young people in church. How can we reverse this trend?
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Today’s teenagers are part of a demographic group called the “millennial generation,” which includes young people born roughly between 1980 and 1995. Some significant characteristics of this group are:
• Self-reliance. They believe they have control of their success, and landing a good job is a top priority.
• Love of family. They depend on their family as a sanctuary against the difficulties of life. Their parents are their most important source of guidance and emotional support. They also lean strongly on their networks of friends.
• Educational achievement. They view education as a key to success.
• Diversity is important. They have a high tolerance for beliefs that are different from their own. They are strong believers in equal rights.
• “Mediavores.” They are amazing multitaskers. They can do homework, listen to a CD, watch television and communicate on-line—all at the same time.
• Service-oriented. They have a strong sense of the “common good.” They participate in service and volunteer activities more than any previous generation.
• Hungry for the transcendent. They seek a practical, pragmatic, everyday faith to help them make sense of the world around them. They are spiritually hungry.
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