Like many of my peers, the Millennials, I now fully consider myself a church dropout. I use to be one of those fairly average church goers who would share all the debates, research, ideas, speculations, and answers to why the Twentysomethings like myself are falling out of church and have come to have little regard for attending church, who are still very spiritual (note: I am very much a believer. My theological beliefs still have deep Orthodox roots, so please don’t trip over my words)!
I use to think liturgy, candles, icons, a sense of reverence and beauty in worship, Creeds, council, sense of belonging to something larger than one’s self, and the ancient church would bring people in. It does, but as great as those things are it will not keep us. At least it didn’t keep me. I don’t have any answers as to why my peers and I feel this way according to the research being done. I think the platitudes and easy answers will easily make it worse.
Further, this has little to do with Tradition. I am still very much a Classical Christian and hold to a lot of what Tradition and Church History teaches. I still ask St. John, the Holy Mother, and the Saints to pray for me. I also don’t find church to ever been about a building for me.
The Tradition for the most part is not at all an issue for me. I still have several Catholic and Orthodox informed spiritual beliefs and practices. That wouldn’t change and won’t change with this dropping out. My issues lie with ecclesiology as far as those two Traditions are concerned and finding a way to assimilate into a faith community, which has been something I, and many others, can’t seem to do.
However, as for myself? My buddy Mike recently told me:
Have you thought about not tying yourself to a church and just taking your journey?”
For now, I find this compliments the journey through shame, mental health issues, and emotional growth that I’m on. My spirituality is intricately interwoven with these issues, so I find putting aside ecclesiology and church attendance to be the best thing I can do for myself.