Younger American Christians' Disillusionment with the Institutional Church and Search for Another Way of Being and Doing Church
The church in America is in decline, struggling to keep an active and engaged membership as larger and larger percentages of the population have no significant relationship with the church. This problem is especially evident among the young adult population. An increasing segment of "twenty-to thirty-somethings" has either disconnected from the church or was never connected in the first place.
While this phenomenon, undoubtedly, has a number of contributors, it, in the author's view, represents not just a decline in numbers and attendance but a crisis of identity — implicating a church that has lost its distinct essence in a number of vital areas. A growing number of young adults (both Christian and non-Christian) in America are distancing themselves from the established, institutional church because it, in their view, no longer represents the church that Jesus had in mind.
This group includes a growing minority of Christians who, though disillusioned with the church, have not given up on it. They are struggling to find and live into another way of being and doing church. Whether these younger Christians see themselves as reformers or not, they are ushering in, once again, a time of refinement and reform for the church — one that is following the path of renewing work down through the ages by emphasizing two correctives: 1) a focus on Jesus and his kingdom and, 2) a resistance to institutionalism within the church.
From this beginning point, there are three specific areas where both their disillusionment and efforts of reform are working themselves out in the church: 1) community, 2) mission, and 3) leadership and structure. It is the author's hope that this project will cultivate greater understanding of and inspire fuller participation in this movement as it is occurring within the church in America today.