urban churches

DC church reaching millennials with evangelical, but strangely noncontroversial take on life

DC church reaching millennials with evangelical, but strangely noncontroversial take on life

Trust me. As a guy in his early ‘60s, after studying trends in American religion for more than four decades, I have seen plenty of news stories explaining how this church or that parachurch has found the magic formula for reaching people who are young and/or sick of organized religion.

These news stories come along every decade or so and are usually rooted in concerns stirred by research into the minds, hearts and lives of another a new generation. This was true with Baby Boomers, Generation X and now the millennials.

I’m not being cynical. We are talking about serious issues for clergy of all kinds, as they try to discern how changing times affect young people heading into the big spiritual gateways of life — marriage, career, children, mid-life angst, retirement and, well, you know.

Right now, the journalism ground is still shaking about you know what -- that headline-grabbing (still) 2012 Pew Forum study about the sharp rise in the number of people, especially the young, who openly describe themselves as unaffiliated, when it comes to institutional religion. Yes, lots of single young adults are sliding into the “Nones” zone.

This brings me to a long “Acts of Faith” feature, written by a freelance writer, that ran the other day at The Washington Post with a headline that, trust me (again), I felt like I had read (with a different noun at the end) several times in my professional life: “A new crop of D.C. churches has discovered the secret to appealing to millennials.” 

Here is the overture, complete with a 36-year-old pastor who — in the post-Associated Press Stylebook world in which we live — doesn’t have “The Rev.” in front of his name.

Aaron Graham is talking to Washingtonians about power.

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