How Facebook Killed the Church

There has been a great deal of hand wringing in the Christian community about the onset of Web 2.0 relationality (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MMOGs). The concern you often hear is that "virtual" relationships are no replacement for "authentic" relationships.

No doubt this is true. But I've done some research in this area and here's my general conclusion: Facebook friends tend to be our actual friends.

No doubt, the vast majority of the people in a friend list on Facebook are strangers, acquaintances, or old school friends you haven't seen in years. But no user of Facebook is confused enough to think that she is "in relationship" with any of these people. These are just the penumbra around the core of our Facebook interactions, connecting with people we actually know and are friends with.

In short, Facebook isn't replacing real world relationality. Rather, Facebook tends to reflect our social world. For example, in a soon to be published study some ACU colleagues and I used Facebook to predict student retention at our school (i.e., which freshmen return for their sophomore year). We found that on-campus Facebook activity was significantly correlated with measures of "real world" relationality. Further, on-campus Facebook activity also predicted who would come back for their sophomore year. For example, if you had a lot of Facebook Wall Posts you felt more socially connected and were more likely to come back to ACU for a second year. Which makes sense. Who would be posting on your Wall day to day? Sure, old friends might give you a shout out from time to time on your Wall. But for the most part Wall posts come from people who you'll actually see today. Or at least this week, month or year. The point is, you know these people. Talking with them via Facebook is authentic relationality. It's staying in touch, coordinating plans, offering up encouragement, saying a prayer, working out misunderstandings, and sharing a moment.

Over at my friend Mike's blog there was a recent discussion about why Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are leaving the church. His question was, why are they leaving? Most of the answers took aim at the church. Churches are too shallow, hypocritical, judgmental, or political. Many surveys have shown these attitudes to be widespread among Millennials. Consider the Barna research summarized in the book unChristian. Young Christians and non-Christians tend to feel that the church is "unChristian." Too antihomosexual. Too hypocritical. Too political. Too judgmental. That's how young people see "the church." And it's hard to blame them.

But my argument at Mike's blog was that the church has always been this way. Is the church of 2010 much different from the church of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s? I don't think so. So, yes, the church is screwed up. Always has been. The church has been a depressing constant over the generations. So the change isn't with the church. The change is with the Millennials. If so, in what way and how has this change related to the church?

The most obvious change is in mobile and Web 2.0 connectivity. Generation X didn't have cell phones. Nor did they have Facebook or text messaging. And you can't tell me that Millennials see the church any differently than Generation X saw it. Look to the right at cell phone subscriptions plotted by decade. Most have Generation X as birth dates between 1961 to 1981. Which has Gen X as college students in the years 1979 to 1999. As you can see, most Gen X'ers didn't have cellphones. And based on the sociological evidence Gen X was much more cynical and anti-establishment when compared to the Millennials. So you can't tell me Gen X'ers didn't see the church as judgmental, hypocritical, or sold-out. They did.

So what happened? Why didn't Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves?

The difference between Generations X and Y isn't in their views of the church. It's about those cellphones. It's about relationships and connectivity. Most Gen X'ers didn't have cell phones, text messaging or Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to truly take off.

So why has mobile social computing affected church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social relationships. Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans ("Let's get together for dinner this week!"). Even if you hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the loss of "third places" in America.

But Millennials are in a different social situation. They don't need physical locations for social affiliation. They can make dinner plans via text, cell phone call or Facebook. In short, the thing that kept young people going to church, despite their irritations, has been effectively replaced. You don't need to go to church to stay connected or in touch. You have an iPhone.

Sure, Millennials will report that the "reason" they are leaving the church is due to its perceived hypocrisy or shallowness. My argument is that while this might be the proximate cause the more distal cause is social computing. Already connected Millennials have the luxury to kick the church to the curb. This is the position of strength that other generations did not have. We fussed about the church but, at the end of the day, you went to stay connected. For us, church was Facebook!

The pushback here will be that all this Millennial social computing, all this Facebooking, isn't real, authentic relationship. I'd disagree with that assessment. It goes to the point I made earlier: Most of our Facebook interactions are with people we know, love, and are in daily contact with. Facebook isn't replacing "real" relationships with "virtual" relationships. It's simply connecting us to our real friends. And if you can do this without getting up early on Sunday morning why go to church? Particularly if the church is hypocritical and shallow? Why mess with it?

Why are Millennials leaving the church? It's simple. Mobile social computing has replaced the main draw of the traditional church: Social connection and affiliation.

Basically, Facebook killed the church. May it Rest in Peace.

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115 thoughts on “How Facebook Killed the Church”

  1. I always understood that the mass exodus, and the roots of institutional distrust, began with Gen-X. The population of most churches will, I believe, show that the drop-off in attendance for various age groups begins around 40 these days - which would correspond to the Boomer/Gen-X break. (By the way, I was born in 64, which puts me statistically within the baby boom, but sociologically on the cusp of Gen-X).

  2. Has not every generation been leaving the church? I know that evangelicals are little behind the mainline and all are behind our European counterparts in the exodus, but it all seems to be a part of the same trend that has been happening for decades.

  3. I generally agree with what you've posted (but that "Rest In Peace" thing seems there only to provoke). Still, I wonder if the social computing movement hasn't exacerbated the problem of perceived hypocrisy in the church.

    It seems that when communicating over computer, there is a perceived social distance that allows people to say things that they would never say in person. This may be allowing expression of attitudes, beliefs, and other thoughts that were previously hidden or known to only few. It might therefore be emphasizing the discrepancy between what is acceptable to express on Sunday morning and what is expressed electronically throughout the rest of the week. If so, then the charge of hypocrisy may be well-deserved.

    Still, this leaves us in a bind. Do we want to live in a world where everyone feels free to communicate with the abandon they use on the internet or do we accept that people can try to behave better then they think without being hypocrites?

  4. Matt,
    Yes, I'd expect some bleeding between Gen X and Y. And that seems to fit the graph in the post. These generational designations are kind of arbitrary. And BTW, anyone into WOW has got to be Gen X!

    Connor,
    I see that point. So perhaps what we are seeing ia a trend on top of a trend. A quick generational movement (facilitated, in my argument, by mobile social computing) on top of a slower macro-trend.

    John,
    The "Rest in Peace" is a reference to the death of "church as affiliation network." It's roundabout shot at Constantinian Christianity (which is not a very provocative thing for me to do; there is a broad consensus about this criticism).

    Your points about internet behavior are well-taken, but I don't think they go to the heart of what I'm talking about (i.e., being in constant contact with friends). But there are, of course, some pretty bad things about Web 2.0.

  5. Well done--I think this is right on target. It will be interesting to see what the church becomes since attendance is no longer mandatory for anyone. Growth is painful, but I think a better (still imperfect) manifestation is coming.

  6. I'm not convinced it's a one-or-the-other situation; mobile networking vs. unChristian churches. It's probably much of both, plus the fact that not attending church has a much lower guilt factor than ever before ...

  7. Interesting enough though is how Gen X, and the Boomers are seeing how social media is impacting the church and what the job of the preacher and leadership are doing and it isn't just the Sunday aM service. In order to go beyond the church as social - you gotta be the church. Really in other words in the words of Rick Flair: "In order to beat the man, you gotta be the man" in other words in order to beat the church (Small c) you gotta be THE Church."

  8. Dr. Beck, Quite a bit has happened between the mid 1980s and the 2000s. Just as a side note, I disagree that Gen Xers are cynical anti-establishment types. We are not the loud Boomers, but we are workers, parents, and voters. We may not want to engage in the nonsense of the binary left/right culture wars.

    I am a Gen Xer, and I left the church upon leaving college. (1992). My parents no longer attended church and after 4 years of wondering why my ethics should be violated by my religious instruction and fly counter to what I experienced of people and "the real world" outside the walls of my Baptist church, I threw in the towel.

    After the televangelists, the apparent apathy of the church to respond to poverty, same for the AIDS epidemic, there seemed to be a lot left to wonder about in terms of the moral authority of the church.

    Perhaps by the time the Millenials were 10-15, their parents were done attending church ENTIRELY, and that's why the millenials left. No one was taking them or insisting they go every week.

    Sex outside of marriage as the high crime against humanity was over and in terms of social space, there was nothing the church had to offer that one could not also find in several other social movements or groups by 2000, internet notwithstanding.

    There were always sports teams, music clubs, theater groups to participate in. It is not as though the only social club was church until cell phones and the internet came along. Millenials like to do things in groups and stick to their groups pretty faithfully. They simply chose not to congregate IN a church.

    I suspect that the Catholic Church sex scandals may have been the last straw for many and church became cultural and no longer about moral or ethical decision making.

    I think this is an easy distraction for a hard topic. The church has been hoisted on its own petard - don't let it off the hood so easily by pointing to technology.
    -Deb

  9. This is a lot of correlation with no real causation.

    People within the church have bemoaned the loss of their "children" for decades now. As someone in Gen X (born in 1972), I remember plenty of hand-wringing among my parents about the decline of the church.

    What is clear from the data is that people are leaving the church of their youth. Some leave completely and others move into non-denominational megachurches that started popping up in the 70s and became much more common in the 90s. Social networking probably played some role, but I don't think you can show it was the root cause.

    Unverified data from this site (http://www.churchsociety.org/issues_new/church/stats/iss_church_stats_attendance.asp) shows that church attendance has declined at a somewhat steady rate since the 1960s. It might be dropping slightly faster since 1990 but not too much.

    Dr. Beck, I appreciate your posts, but I think you've jumped a bit too far on this one.

  10. I think a more interesting question is what brought GenX back to the church - my story, and the story of most of my GenX friends is rather like Deb's. Either we didn't grow up in the church (me) or we left and came back.

  11. I've read some books which echo your sentiments. One very good help is The Church of Facebook because it gives some interesting insight into personal dynamics.

    As a minister who has been online since the early 90s, I can honestly say that I've met people who are much more willing to hear what someone has to say or discuss theology/Scripture via the internet than in a local church setting where they can be "called out" when the majority disagrees with them.

    While people are not losing the social relationships which comes through the loss of church, my concern is for those people of faith who find it easier to avoid any type of worship all together. Corporate worship and togetherness are becoming lost but, honestly, I think this has more to do with evangelicalism's insistence on a "me and my" spirituality.

    So, the question arises, "How do we promote and incorporate communal worship in a (to quote Leonard Sweet) TGIF world?" (Twitter Google Internet Facebook)

  12. Yeah kind of what Deb was saying.
    I believe "Facebook" (internet, cell phones) didn't kill the church, but simply exposed how dead the church was all along.

    Gary Y.

  13. Just stopping by to tell you that you are wrong. Ahem.

    The church was losing young people in droves long before the advent of Facebook ... before MySpace even. I think the problem lies elsewhere.

  14. I'm with Deb on this one. While I have in the past often thought I would go to church for social interaction if I didn't for the faith aspect, social media has taken the place of that somewhat. But only somewhat. There is also the issue of where you meet people and interact with them. Gen Y knows that relationships can't all be online, and face-to-face time is necessary. Where are they going to meet people? Sociological studies in other realms (_before_ the boom in social media/cell phones) indicated that community participation has been on the decline for a while in all areas of life (Bowling Alone for example).

    I think the Gen Xs issues with church, often well-founded, are reaping a second-generation result that has less to do with SM and more to do with the failings of a modern faith to adapt to changing worldviews in the last several decades, not just in the last 10 years.

    I could be wrong though. Interested to hear about your thoughts on this and the upcoming retention study.

  15. I think there is a lot of truth to this, even outside of the electronic end. My family and I have become part of a local theater group in the last year or two. As my friendships have strengthened there, my church relationships wane. I am simply more comfortable with my theater friends. We are not all of one religious or political view; that is very refreshing. We do not spend time working out what is wrong with all the other theater groups around town, nor do we believe anyone will endure eternal torture for not being part of our theater group. Relationships are so much more fulfilling when "that" kind of thinking is not the reason why you are friends in the first place.

    So this raises the issue of what to do with church. For myself, I get plenty of spiritual give & take from books, lectures, and friends (both online and not). Therefore the need to pack everyone up to go to a building across town, sing songs, listen to one person's interpretation of God, and send my kids off to Sunday school where they can learn that all of their friends are going to Hell, is becoming less compelling.

  16. Dr. Beck,
    Interesting stuff. I think I'd be more inclined to buy your conclusion that Facebook has replaced the need for church as a place where people can physically connect, if you could convinced me that millenials are less inclined to physically connect in other social activities besides church than previous generations. In other words, if Facebook has also hurt attendance in the school band, or in sports, or theater club. . . From my unscientific observations, it seems millenials are way busier, way more socially active, involved in way more activities than people of previous generations. If social computing hasn't squashed those activities, then why church?

    In my estimation, I don't think social computing has really "replaced" anything. All it does is provide another line of communication. When used well, I think it could actually be a GOOD thing for churches by keeping it's people connected on a more consistent basis between Sundays. . . Food for thought.

  17. I'm not too alarmed by the premise (younger people leaving the church more rapidly than their predecessors) or the conclusion (that it's Facebook's fault). Frankly, I don't think the data supports either conclusion. I would argue Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, but I don't really buy either Hoc.

    That said, one statement jumps out in an alarming way: "Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans ("Let's get together for dinner this week!")."

    Herein lies the heart of the problem.

    If this is what "church has always been about," then it has never really been "church." Maybe if "church" were less about "social affiliation" and more about authentic counter-cultural Christianity, we would be better able to retain those we teach.

    As it is, the "church" you describe is a pathetic, second-rate impostor that needs killing. If our young people really are figuring out that church should be more than a social club (I'm not convinced they are, but still), this is good news.

  18. I have spent a lot of time asking myself this question - why did my generation leave the church. I don't agree with the reason you put forth here, although your argument is compelling. I think Gen X left the church for many, many reasons. Too many to name here, but one is because it was nothing like Jesus said it should be. Theologically, they could not understand it's brokenness; how this brokenness made way for their gifts; or the idea of being readied for Christ's return. It is very sad.

  19. I agree with Ben Wiles. The church that only concerns itself with networking and affiliation (or those that are looking for that and no more) is missing the point and should die.

    The greatest indicator of whether kids and youth go to church is what their parents do, so Dr. Beck's theory loses punch when you realize that the problem most likely predates cell phones and web use.
    You should also check out this NY Times Article and the Pew Research Center's recent Report that it is based upon (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/opinion/20blow.html). The Millennials are for the most part staying affiliated with the faith tradition that they grew up with. Yes there are more "unaffiliated" than with other age groups, but that's because more of them started out that way. There is an upward trend of people leaving the church, but nothing that corresponds to the rate of cell phone ownership shown in the graph above.
    Also seen in this report and the Times article is that these folks are hungry for spiritual answers and connections. This will lead them to reconnect with the church eventually in my opinion, just as I (a GenXer)did after drifting away from it for years. When they do reconnect, the church may look different than what we traditionally think of, but I don't see FB, Twitter or the like "killing" the church anytime soon. I'm already seeing instances of the church incorporating these tools into new and different ways to be the church.

    Who says you have to be in a specific physical location to be at church anyway?

  20. Brilliant observations. I'm one of those fringe GenX'rs, who usually gets classified in the Baby Boom range. Started using online social networking back in the early 90s with Compuserve. I also just quit "attending" a weekly church - and your post helps me to understand why it was relatively easy to do this.

    I'm one of the people Barna talks about in his book, Revolution - leaving to become the Church. My network over Facebook, Twitter, and my blog is wide, fun, dynamic, and interactive. And, you're right, these people are my real-life friends too!

  21. There is nothing edifying or practical about this article. Just another religious chatter. And not a single reference to the Bible or Jesus.

    You may talk endlessly about goods and evil of the technology. Nothing practical or educational there.

    And saying that our spirituality depends on the technology available is just silly.

  22. I am a youth pastor and I see the generations leaving the church now only where the church doesn't first reach them. I, on a weekly basis, will take stabs of criticism and cynicism on my facebook page...FROM church members who haven't come to my face but in person run to the pastor and whine.

    The reason people leave is due to some sibilance of social security. People don't genuinely love. We have pastors get up across this country and preach week in and week out yet aren't mobilizing outreach efforts.

    Church is boring in a lot of cases and even the Gospel isn't clinching hearts due to the cold, hard hearts of church people disarming the Great Commission through the Greatest Commandment.

    Technology scares older people because they dont know what it is and refuse the allow the younger generations a welcoming atmosphere but rather and cold and religious "worship" service finds many just desiring to stay at home and do other things...WE HAVE TO GO TO THEM...doesn't matter why they are leaving, just matters that they are.

    To be in the culture means the church should be a student of what is being lived out around them instead of some stupid sub-culture where everything has a cross on it or at the local Bible book store they sell Testi"mints" to freshen that holy breath. Seriously?! This is cheesy at the least and I feel it dulls the message of the Gospel where Jesus was in the culture not of it...but churches have it backwards.

    Ill stop here but by no means are all thoughts here...

  23. It seems to me that perhaps one aspect of church decline is not a matter of socialization, but of information. There was a time in generations past when “what the preacher said” had the force and authority of truth. Not so now. People have access to a fountain of information, religious opinions and theologies, with better discussions, and are more apt to explore and think through issues and theology for themselves, rather than delegating what they think to a single source — the church, the denomination and/or the pastor of their youth. Churches and pastors have seldom encouraged people to think for themselves, but instead to take their word that “this is what the Bible says, and this is what it thus means,” so naturally there is going to be resistance to a medium that puts varied thought on a low-budget buffet. Before, people who voiced concerns about church teaching or practice could be effectively shunned and socially isolated until they "saw the light" and "came back to the fold." Now, facebook makes it easier to find those of like thought and experience. Churches necessarily assert that churchianity is Christianity, as 501c3s can’t afford in terms of survival to acknowledge otherwise.

  24. "People don't seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  25. I'm a pastor, but not married to the idea of traditional church. What we can't lose has nothing to do with where we go on a particular day. What we can't afford to lose is genuine, authentic, and transparent interface with other true Christians. How we interface, whether face to face or face to monitor, has less to do with anything than does the sincerity we bring with it.

  26. i don't think it has anything to do with 'technology' i think it has to do with hunger of the heart.
    i agree with 'Jay' "Church is boring in a lot of cases and even the Gospel isn't clinching hearts due to the cold, hard hearts of church people disarming the Great Commission through the Greatest Commandment." And i agree with 'Chris'"these folks are hungry for spiritual answers and connections. This will lead them to reconnect with the church eventually."
    IF we the church HAVE WHAT FULFILS A LONGING SOUL. Remember if a soul isn't hungry & thirsty you can't make them drink.

  27. Greed, sexual abuse, hatred, bigotry, prosperity gospel are a few of the things that have helped the church commit suicide.

  28. I think this article is really on to something. I think it's interesting to consider that some young people who are just around for socializing no longer go to church youth groups... what does that mean about the people who are still going? A more zealous, perhaps more insular bunch?
    http://vierboom.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/is-facebook-killing-organised-religion-or-is-it-doing-something-even-worse/

    @jay 'some stupid sub culture where everything has a cross on it' - nice one

  29. Social computing killed the church? Megachurches are alive and well, and there are churches that are thriving due to the internet and TV, which makes it easier for new churches to find places to house themselves and reach for donations beyond their cities. I think you are just a whiner.

  30. Far too simplistic. The collapse in churchgoing numbers started in UK after World War I, when few even had a telephone. It was well advanced as I grew up in the 60s. In this country, it was well on the way in the Northwest when I arrived there in 1985. To blame it on facebook lets the church off far too easily.

  31. what about how facebook makes people go to church? the use of technology can actually help to spur church growth as well. some people might leave the church and some others would join the church, just like it has always been. i'd agree that facebook is a reflection of the social world but the findings aren't concrete enough to suggest that facebook killed the church.

  32. Just stumbled across something intriguing: social media boot camp for pastors.

    http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/archives/2010/03/social_media_bo.html

  33. ehhh...simply plotting variables in no way proves a relationship between those variables. you need to run some multivariate linear regression to prove that the increase in social media is the reason people aren't attending church. please don't make the church look dumb by misusing math!

  34. Melissa,
    What part of "there is no proof here" and "there are a host of other explanations for this trend (i.e., the well known "third variable problem")" went over your head?

  35. The issue I see is that we are only discussing the American Church. Yet THE Church is actually growing by leaps and bounds if you take into account the global nature of the Church as with the global nature of Facebook. Put the two on a level playing field or statistical chart and you might instead see that the advent and acceptance of social media has served to increase attendance and overall satisfaction with being the Church and not just attending a Church. In the end though, Barna's research fails to take into account many things that point to a resurgence in Church attendance overall if we add up the number of small groups, house churches, weekly bible studies and other Church related occurrences that track "attendance." We are growing, not shrinking and the purpose is not social interaction as much as it is Worship. This is the other fallacy of this post, the church is not for social interaction so facebook and The Church should not even be correlated in that sense.

  36. John,
    You say, "the church is not for social interaction." I agree.

    I think people are missing the irony and inversion of of my final words "May it rest in peace." I admit, it's a subtle comment, one that turns the whole post upside down at the very end.

    I guess it is too subtle.

  37. I go along with the alienist, in that we can state our views wtht. fear of appearing to be disagreeing with the Pastor or minister. Also the comment that we can speak out minds without being called out if found in the minority. My main 'beef' with a Church Setting is that they too often expect us to park our brain at the entrance, and they think they are the only ones in town to 'own the real truth.' I was forced to find out my own truth, and to 'search for truth on my own.' I finally found 'the truth for me' from a book and ministry I was fortunate enough to find, along with a minister I could trust with my life, and one that I know walks closely with the Lord. I am most blessed. For those still searching, I'll leave them with his e-mail address. stm@mounet.com! His name is Robert Balaicius. He is an author and owns his own publishing house, and if you write to him, he will respond. One more thing, and perhaps the most important, he is NOT in it for the money. Janet

  38. This appears on the back of one of Robert's books, "Uncovering The Mysteries Of Your Hidden Inheritance." by Robert Alan Balaicius. This book changed my life, and I will never be the same. Janet
    The past contains the keys to the future. If you can find those keys, and know where to search for the doors they will open, then life becomes a purposeful and rewarding certainty. Many dream about discovering hidden treasure. The problem is, most people do not know where to begin looking. However, when one finds the truth, it is like incredible freedom that transports to new life, the one who had been hopelessly imprisoned in darkness.

  39. The Church will never 'Rest in peace.' No power on earth can stop it. It is the 'Bride of Christ' on the earth, and someday He will return for her. Janet

  40. I would NEVER go to a Church for social interraction, alone. I would go to Church for only two reasons, 1) To understand the Bible, because it is the inspired Word of God! 2) Because the Bible says to 'forsake not the gathering of yourselves together,'speaking of the Body of Christ.' Janet

  41. I completely disagree with this article just on the basis that if you are only going to church for a social gathering then your intentions were wrong all along. Going to church isnt about hanging out, it is about going to be intentional about worshipping God. Sundays should be about a community coming together and joining together in an intimate and authentic loving of their Father in Heaven. Relationships are key yes I completely agree but at what point do we stop making excuses to the fact that we don't come to church because we truly don't want anything to do with God. Church would be a whole lot better in this country if we so called CHristians would stop pointing our fingers with what is wrong with it and start thanking God that we are even allowed to come together and worship God and not have to worry about dying on the way. Our priorities are so wrong, it was never about us, its about God!

  42. I completely disagree with this. The problem of this generation leaving in droves is the CORE values that they have. They are learning liberal thoughts from high school and college professors, things like homosexuality is not a sin, that we evolved from apes, that animals and humans are equal. This generation, because of the teaching of the previous has many idols and is worshiping them just like the Israelites
    did.

    Sorry professor, but I think you need to really look at your core beliefs as well.

  43. @Anonymous commenter Mar. 15

    The core values and attitude exemplified by your comment are the precise reason I have left the Church. Way to go! Good job!
    --Justin

  44. I would agree that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites has effected church. How it effects a church it think is based on that church and it's congregation. A church can not build it's foundation on a social media approach and must be able to engage their youth.

    Although the relationships that are fostered on these sites are surface at best they still are relevant. In some cases people are saved by simply reading an updated status on someones page. Now this will never take the place of face to face interaction but because it is a form of communication it should be embraced. Before you can expect people to come up to the standards of Christ you must first get them where they are.

    The Church is the body of Christ and just like any organism it is subject to change but at it's core it is and will always be what God created it to be. The Church.

  45. So why has mobile social computing affected church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social relationships. Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans ("Let's get together for dinner this week!"). Even if you hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the loss of "third places" in America. My, my, my, my, my... so the gates of Hell shall not stand against it, but Facebook and the eworld has killed it. Forgive my lunacy professor, but it is my opinion that the true church is alive and well and always will be... do you suggest Christ will return for no one? I think your premise and your research is interesting, but so are Digital Cameras. I believe you might correlate your research in the same manner using Digital Cameras or Labrador Retreivers. Forgive me for being so blunt: can the church use a push into into deep Biblical relationships based on Spiritual yearnings. Yes. Was it killed by Facebook? Surely you jest.

  46. So sorry, one more thing. I have served at the same church for almost 16 years. I can't remember anyone ever telling me they left the church because of an e-relationship. Seriously now...

  47. Wow, thanks for this post. I appreciate the data and the recognition that correlation isn't necessarily causation. But I think you make a good case for cell phones and social media being part of the shift.

  48. Hi Richard, thanks for the thoughtful article.

    When I first got into full time Christian ministry 13 years ago, we were lamenting the exodus of Generation X from the church. A few years earlier, at Bible College, I'd been reading statistics about flagging numbers of 18-30 year olds in church. I'm not sure it's entirely true that Gen Y is leaving the church in droves while Gen X stayed. The young adult age bracket seems, for many years now, to have been a wander-some demographic spiritually. Perhaps independence and individuality need to be worked into the argument too.

    Just a thought.

  49. I am not certain that you could as easily draw a correlation between trends towards lower wages and dropping church attendance - there is a lot of societal pressure to give a percentage to the church through tithing, and as incomes have drop people of lesser means may be dropping church due to cost.

  50. Hmm, this has certainly generated a lot of reaction which shows what a good post it is! There seem to be a couple of assumptions behind it, one of which is that "church" means Sunday worship. Perhaps one of the more fruitful further developments on the question would be to look at what is happening to people's participation in "church" in the broader sense - do Gen Y people gather to talk about God? Do they use social media as part of a network of caring Christians? Are they used (like this blog) to promote in depth discussion of spiritual issues? Are some of the social events that are organised over facebook actually "church" events in the broader sense?

    The other question is to what extent the present is explained by the present, and to what extent by the past? If ideas gradually filter from specialists to generalists, then perhaps something like this is happening: 1) the findings of academic biblical critics and theologians in the first half of the last century have filtered to us baby boomers and Gen Xers through the second half of the century; 2) this has loosened our attachment to church but we keep going because we established a habit for ourselves early on, though we don't do so with the same conviction as our predecessors 3) our Gen Y children learn ambivalence from us and don't establish the church-going habit in the first place 4) however, spiritual hunger is still as strong as ever, so they find their own ways to satisfy it, through media they are comfortable with. Just speculating, but worth a thought.

  51. Millenials will, eventually, face a problem, if your article is true. When they're older and married (or cohabitating) with children, where will they meet NEW friends? Old friends move away. Coworkers quit. Parents die. Without the so-called "third places," such as churches, where does one go to meet new people, except at bars? We have a cafe where I work. Few customers talk to each other, who don't already know each other. Once Millenials graduate from college and settle into careers, where the only interaction they have with strangers on a daily basis is at work, well, I suspect many of them will have shrinking circles of Facebook friends with whom they can do anything. Churches could capitalize on this: being a friend to the friendless. Since that is where many of them may end up in the future.

  52. What very few, if anyone, has mentioned or taken the responsibility for (especially the pastors who who left comments), is the shallow teaching and circus environment that our "modern, culturally sensitive" youth groups have become. Youth pastors don't preach, let alone teach. They placate and entertain.

    They're a Vaudeville Act of the 20s; they're a bad version of Comedy Central. They present a dumbed-down gospel, an ineffectual Jesus. They call for no real commitment because they believe teens aren't capable of it ... those that do are just considered "radical."

    The church treats them like dumb children unable to digest and analyze deep things of the Bible and the reality of Jesus. So they read from the Bible like a version of Hooked On Phonics--and these are teens and pre-teens! We create a soft church environment while a harsh world "where the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8) awaits them.

    Others have also pointed out the reasons:
    "Pastors/Churches seldom encourage people to think for themselves."
    We're expected to "park our brain at the [church] entrance ... because "they're the only one in town with the real truth."
    The garbage they're taught at public schools: "Homosexuality not a sin, we evolved from apes, that animals and humans are equal."
    The list goes on.

  53. I was interested in the title and quickly checked who the author of the article was. When I saw it was a professor from a Christian university I had high expectations, but I have to say I was very disappointed by how shallow it was.

  54. Interesting article, and even more interesting comments.

    I can see some validity in the article's stance, and I do think there is a certain percentage of church-goers that ARE there for the socialization primarily (and yes, that may very well be missing the point of it all entirely, but that's not for me to decide.)

    I live in Utah, and while I am not LDS/Mormon, I do see the constant, obvious emphasis placed upon the community as church as community, and that, to me, confirms my above opinions.

    I would like to know, however, exactly what schools are teaching that "we evolved from apes?" None that I am aware of, as that is simply NOT the theory of evolution as is is implied, stated or taught.

    In order to have any chance at real communication, you have to have your facts - definitions in this case - straight. Willfull ignorance of the specifics of a theory just so you can ridicule or dismiss it is a disappointingly familiar strategy of the uninformed.

  55. Way to go, Anon. Ignore what you can't answer. You really truly do have your finger on the pulse of American Christianity these days...

  56. When you make church attendance all about social relationships and not about being a community of believers who enjoys Worshiping and Serving God, attendance will go down when other outlets for social relationships come about. Maybe facebook is doing the work of God by separating the sheep and the goats. Something to think about.

  57. Take a look at church set-up. Pews or rows of chairs facing all in one direction, to a stage, where the action takes place. Some people attend small groups, which is a bit more social, but then you must consider the subject matter is predetermined and the conversation usually sticks closely to the subject matter. The church, on appearance and function alone, is anti-social.

  58. There's lots of different ways to do small groups so that it is different ... in the world's largest church with 70,000 cells, the preference is to look for leaders who have a gift of evangelism and who therefore will be socially oriented and especially toward newcomers.

    But you are TOTALLY RIGHT - the problem is an orientation toward performance rather than conversation. Diffusion of innovations research indicates that media presentations (reading, video, printed material, speakers, sermons) reach 16% of a social population; only conversations with trusted peers reach the remaining 84%. Focus on presentation means you get some quick early results and then fail, as the 84% are the ones who generate systemic resistance to change.

  59. So what you're really saying is that facebook is actually making the Church stronger--the true Church, not the Institution.

  60. Great article...though I dont agree with the statement that facebook killed the church. When church is not about buildings and meetings but about people and family, it actually contributes to it and builds it. We are church, we dont build church...(thats god's job...or maybe facebook's :-) and thats what this shows to me.

  61. http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/02/14/why-millennials-are-leaving-church-you-wont-believe-this/#comments

    Interesting conversation happening here.

  62. Thanks for this, Mike. I do think the unChristian research holds more true for Busters and Mosaics, who see judgment and hypocrisy as issues where they can't support the Church. But I find this new paradigm of community really interesting, and am looking forward to seeing how we use it.

  63. If your assertion is true that the main draw of the church is social connection and affiliation, what does that say about the church and it's understanding of it's own identity, purpose, and mission? This is the problem with church here in America and elsewhere as well I would guess: By and large we simply do not know who we are and what we're to be about (identity and mission). It's all about me. What does my association and/or involvement or association with the church do for me. Dallas Willard says that many Believers are "vampire Christians" who want Jesus for his blood and little else.

  64. I disagree with your conclusion. Yes church has always been anti-gay, judgmental, etc. But these attitudes have become unacceptable only recently where they were tolerated before. Enlightenment has caught up with the church not Facebook.

  65. The 'church' is following the prophesied path which was predicted by Paul, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" and the 'church' is entering into the 'falling away' stage and has been for quite sometime. The institution has become it's own worst enemy as it has focused on hero's like that of Rick Warren, whom himself, turned to the world for the 'finances' of his church, which thing the Bible does not commend and speaks volumes against such, the institution has violated so many passages of the Bible that even the common lay member has taken notice. Not willing to stay within the confines of the scripture, the institution has became a borrower and set the institution at the liberty of the lender, when others approach for help, they are told to have faith, they have violated their own words, they have scattered those who were in her and lifelong contributors and tithers, for contemporary style 'praise' and pushed the elders out of the doors. They have 'watered' down the Word of God which came with power of the Holy Spirit and made it of little or no respect, to the sinner and Christian alike, they are 'puffed up' as though they have knowledge, but their sermons are repetitious, adjective, and personal pronoun driven, endorsed and agitated (this could be your Mother in need of prayer, your sister, your brother, your niece etc.., ad infinitum) just to fill up words in their sermon, and hoping that none will 'catch' their jargon, a reminder of that of an ill-prepared Sunday School teacher. Their words are empty and have ran to the point of emotional carry-on baggage or drama from the stage, hollywood wannabes, some who have resorted to tears etc.., trying to instill the next big Umph, or book for their flock to absorb, and this is not from the Pentecostal, but by those who used to have a good foundation, but have turned from the Truth to productional thrills. They deny the truth when presented and treat the presenter as though he/she had a flaw in their view of true doctrine, possibly due to infiltration by the 32nd Degree types. They will not go 'deep' into the Word of God for they have calculated the cost of pain, money, home, autos etc..., in the pursuing of God, well did Jude speak of them, as they cannot bear the cost and prevent those (Christ stated) who would.

    A simple test: "But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." Christ stated that John the Baptist was Elijah, the disciples understood it, the angel stated John the Revelator would be the 2nd Witness, Moses being the (witness) system of Law, and John being the (witness) system of Grace, Revelation 10:8-11, they all understood and 'got it', the church rebels and refuses it, thus the only system left is the system of Wrath.

  66. That the church is so strongly influenced by the dynamics described in this post, it a sign of the fact that it is a human - not a divine institution.

    Churches operate according to social dynamics which are present in any human group. This should be a wake up call to the fact that we should be seeking the kingdom of God instead of church. In fact, the fundamental purpose of the church in the New Testament was to prepare for the kingdom of God which was expected to arrive in that generation.

  67. Interesting thoughts, Richard. Being a Millennial myself, I'd have to say that while Facebook is a place where authentic relationships can and do take place, I think social media and technology overall are used by my generation with our sinful intentions.

    What do I mean by that? Less people come out not necessarily because of the church's problems, but because they would rather play with a certain app or get bored sitting and paying attention to a pastor (who in all probability is a bad preacher because he doesn't read or write much).

    A recently released study here (http://j.mp/ejUoVs) finds that church decline is moving at a slower rate, and churches experiencing growth are continuing to see growth.

    I think that as churches are aging, thus leaders are getting older, they are feeling more and more disconnected with younger generations as they stop keeping up with quick, technological changes. So change is not embraced and events for younger generations are never implemented. That's why the old, traditional churches are really starting to die out while more modern ones with young leaders are growing.

    The smart leaders will integrate Facebook/Twitter with their church in a way that will turn their online church into a living community, not just a social media venue for church info.

  68. The Catholic Church will always be.....not so for the secularists who ditch it! Islam will conquor them. Secularists are so bland and oblique they don't have a future...(notice their rapidly falling birthrates)!

    So as seculrism dies.....what will replace it?! Christendom or the Caliphate?!! Catholic State for me please!

  69. GEEZ, I thought I went to Church because it was important to my spiritual relationship with God and the social flowed from that. Silly me - God is obviously not part of the equation at all. How sad.

  70. Much the same as music the church is having to redefine itself. The arrogance of the church leaves one with a thought that they have all of the answer only to find, they don't know them.

    I think that Facebook offers a insight that the church has seen to late...that being a voice. Everyone wants their voice to be heard and Facebook offers that in a nutshell. Noe that can be a dangerous thingt hat ignites pride but it is true. I wonder how we can use some of the concepts of facebook and use them in the church.

  71. Meow,
    How do you know?
    Do you also not need a doctor/acupuncturist/healer/medicine man to help you when you are sick? The truth is ... OF COURSE we need someone to guide us. The tricky part is finding what sort of person and/or group can help.

    It's cool that you see the flaws in some systems, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Instead, learn how to be wise enough to mistrust not only these morons ... but also to mistrust yourself. You say you can "do good" on your own ... but the truth is that you don't even know what "good" IS without guidance. None of us do. We all face ethical and moral dilimmas that require more wisdom than we naturally posess. We will always need to lean on some kind of 'expert.'

    I'm just saying ... don't give up the search. There is a God, and as Paul wrote: there is one Lord and one faith. Finding it and living it is an awesome challenge, particularly when we are so distracted by stupidity and selfishness in most religions.

  72. I disagree with several points: First, church attendance has been dropping precipitously for some time, even before the Gen Xers, this isn't a Millenial phenomenon. Second, while Facebook reflects people we know in real life, one could also argue that it has distinctly negative social effects. It absorbs a lot of free time; it gives navel-gazing and exhibitionism both an ideal platform; and most of all, living more or less in this virtual world allows us to build echo chambers where we can isolate ourselves from those with different values. If the church (which church?) is boring and hypocritical, we are no less so, left to our own devices. There is no greater ideal in the individual than in the community of individuals.
    On the other hand, at least when we met people face to face we didn't have the option of deleting the comment streams of those who might challenge our values. We had to broker dissent, accept the legitimacy of the other, understand that it wasn't channel me, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. With social media, we all have the option of becoming tiny tyrants lording over our own universes. Of course we don't need the Lord for that.
    Research indicates that this generation is exhibiting distinctly less empathy for others than its forebearers--me-centricness becomes natural when we can build a world about ourselves, and inhabited only by those who reinforce us.
    Perhaps some churches are hypocritical and out of touch, others are not, but is it really time to celebrate the death of institutions that question our values and ask us to leave the self behind? In an age of social atomization, I'd have to argue they may be the last things keeping us from individualistic insanity.
    www.antiantichristian.com

  73. There were times when Jesus preached at the people and there were times when he answered their questions and discussed things with them. However, he never flinched and backed away from the message he came to give. And on many occasions the people walked away and didn't come back and they still do today. Jesus says I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Many take him at his word and live their lives in him; many others say Idon't need no God but myself and don't.

  74. I think facebook, cell phones, etc. are the connection we have with each other. Church is the connection we have with God. Church is also the connection THROUGH GOD AND CHRIST with each other, an altogether DIFFERENT TYPE of connection than any communication device can provide. We DON'T require any special equipment when going via the church connection. It is done with the heart. It is accomplished by the spirit. No batteries required.

  75. I think it's vastly important to take the time to find the church that is right for yourself and your family. Shop, shop, shop by attending churches, for long enough at each to get a true feel for the teachings of the Priest and how the people respond to the Priest and each other, see if outreach is being done, try out the programs, etc.
    As we all have different needs and are at a different place in our personal journey, so a priest or congregation will be also. Find the one that's right for your personal growth. Get involved and become active. You get out what you put in. It's not ALL about the money, but about also what YOU can offer and "bring to the table" as it were. A true offering to God is about offering back what He has already given you - your own talents. Interestly, "talent" was an ancient word for ancient currency, as your talents earned you the cash you needed to survive another day.

  76. It is nobody's fault that newer or even older generations tend to replace the main draw of the church. It's just that whoever gets in touch with anybody better, the more followers will be the sure winner.

  77. I find this topic very interesting. I am partaking in some of my own research on the effects and uses of social networking within Christian churches. Your claim is that Facebook has killed the church. What about churches like Mars Hill or Lifechurch.tv that are using blogs, Facebook, and other online tools to attempt to enhance relationships? It's curious that these types of churches using social networking are continuing to grow in members and followers. What are your thoughts on this. I would appreciate your feedback! Thanks.

  78. Saying that Facebook killed the church is a very dramatic and presumptuous statement. Facebook is no evil and, used in the right contexts, could actually be helping what church should be about. Church was never meant to be a social club or a center for evangelism, as it is for most people. Jesus rebuked the people that acted religious just by way of association and 'doing' the right things. I think that inviting someone to church has become a pseudo-method of evangelism but what the church really needs are people that are willing to go among Gen. Y, understand them, love them, and share truth with them. I believe that social networking is a good way to enforce Gen. Y evangelism along with personal relationships and discipleship, since now more than ever people are spending large amounts of time in front of a screen. My thoughts, interesting read.

  79. seriously? if you believe that something like facebook has the power to kill God's church you must have a pretty small view of who are God is and no faith in his promise to build his church.

  80. Hello, Mr. Beck.

    I'm interested in the demographic information about Generation Y's connections. Is it limited to their age group or are their connections multi-generational?

    I'm reading 'Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety' by Richard Rohr. He writes that Post Modern generations need to seek out bigger minds. This thought, among other points, have made me suspicious if we are still in a Post Modern age, or have we moved forward?

    The issue of Generation Y e-relating and skipping the usual 'third place' institutions may indicate that we've moved beyond 'Post Modern'. (Along with the events in Egypt and Libya) Real-time, global relating is new phenomenon, not post.

    Laura

  81. Thank you for a stimulating and challenging article - however I do take issue with your conclusion. If the Church's main function is to provide a social forum then facebook could be a contributing factor to its demise, if it is indeed dead ...
    The Church as the mystical Body of Christ and dispenser of sacramental grace seems to me to still be going strong ....

  82. Interesting. Conor Friedersdorf has a counterpoint to that, in which he asks "Why do so many religious students lose their religion when they go to college?" (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/04/why-college-students-are-losing-their-religion/236874/)

    He proposes that it's not education that weakens a formerly devout person's beliefs, it's the fraying of their (until then) life-long communal network, including their community church. For many people, the whole "relationship with God" isn't why they go to church: they go because their parents go, because their communal sense and satisfaction are wrapped up being part of the church.

    College is only a convenient whipping boy for the "why are Gen Y so irreligious?" questions. It is not; the simple fact is that most people are not so drawn to theological contemplation in the first place. Without the constant refreshing of the message that community equals church, when they find a functional churchless community, those young people lose interest in the church.

    Here's an experiment in theology: do young people leaving home for the first time for endeavors other than college likewise lose their faith in equal numbers? I hesitate to suggest looking at military populations: the military is emphatic about its support for the religious beliefs of its soldiers.

  83. I agree with the observation the article is making. In some senses it's not that bad, because:

    - As other commenters have pointed out, going to church isn't supposed to be about hanging out, it's about going to be intentional about worshipping God (though the hanging out is necessary to get in some venue).
    - The Church is all believers, whether they meet together in a building or not, so FB isn't really killing it.

    But in other senses, it's kind of bad, because:

    - Collective worship is supposed to prefigure heaven, and an important part of that is being embodied.
    - Collective worship allows people to see others worshipping God, which serves as an inspiration and helps them see each other clearly. FB conversations aren't geared toward that sort of thing; typed words and emoticons fall especially short in such situations.
    - You can make new friends through FB; it introduces you to friends of friends just fine. But you don't experience the diversity that you would find in a church. How many friends do you have on FB who are mentally disabled, over 70, or under 13? These are part of the Body of Christ as well. OTOH, FB more easily allows for international interaction.
    - Even if hanging out is not the primary reason people should go to church, that doesn't mean that people who go to church just to hang out are better off not going. They absorb the preceding points as well as receive the sacrament.

    I'm not alarmed by the trend, but I am thoughtful. As church becomes less necessary for keeping in touch with friends, how can we shift our structure to focus on what matters more without leaving anyone behind?

  84. An anonymous commenter pointed out "There were always
    sports teams, music clubs, theater groups to participate in. It is not
    as though the only social club was church until cell phones and the
    internet came along." What they mean is that any decline in church
    attendance can't be because we suddenly now have a way other than church
    to hang out; because we always have.I disagree; rather, I think
    that FB is probably dissuading members from sports teams, music clubs,
    and theater groups as well, for the same reasons as from churches. So
    those groups could ask themselves the same question, although the
    self-acknowledged importance of their mission is different.

  85. And another reason:its because they can. And thank God that they can. Gone are the days when social pressure, like a velvet sledgehammer, pounded people into going and staying in churches they never really liked. And that younger generations know that spirituality is bigger than the church. In the end, as you have said, this is a positive sign of religionless christianity. People becoming decent human beings by supporting a friend on facebook that has suffered a loss, insteading of wasting time in a church "getting right with God."

  86. I completely agree, and I also disagree. I can see that interaction as evolve from Gen X to us the Millenial, but there is much more to it.
    I have paid close attention to this "trend" recently and I've come to the concusion that it is not only Fcebok and texting that draws people away from the church, it is the parents as well. How so? Parents no longer dedicate the time they can or should to their childre due to work. Whereas before there were those domestic household rules-- Mom stayed at home with the children while Dad worked-- those no longer exist. Both Mom and Dad work so they overcompensate the time lost with their children by buying them IPhones, IPods, and so and so forth. Parents leave the church last. It's to the point where even parents, adults, no longer know the order of mass or prayers because they have become much too busy texting, facebooking, and tweeting. So yes, the technology of this era has alot to do with it, but it also the way in which parents raise their children.

  87. The problem with this argument is that there is no "the Church"  The weakness of this article is that some congregations are like what is described as the church and the argument seems intuitively to make sense.  But lots of other folks who attend worship, "go to church"  have a much different experience of Christian practices for which this argument does not seem to fit at all.  Also, going to church is a whole conglomerate of needs, convictions, attitudes and habits.  There is not simple answer why some are returning to church, some are leaving church and some can not even imagine wasting time in church.  

    The power of this article is helping us not fall prey to the belief that Social networking is a phony or plastic substitute for authentic friendships.  Thank you Richard Beck.

  88. Well that's the end of my career, I guess! As I am fading away though, I ask the question, why can't we have both? Modern, inclusive relational churches and FB or other social media.

  89. I don't know what your story is, and I didn't ready your article...just the title.  My dear friend, you are not a Christian. You are not!  Please wake up and see!  The Church never dies "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18.   God's Church never falls apart, or dies! "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had
    been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that
    it would be shown that they all are not of us."  1 John 2:19.  The Church for which Jesus died IS without blemish and without spot Ephesians 5:27.  Please....for God's glory, and for your good, look at the law of God, the 10 commandments....see that you have never kept God's law, and have truly been living as His enemy, not truly loving Him (John 14:15, not truly understanding the Gospel of Christ.  Read the Gospel of John and cry out to God to save you!  Repent and believe the Gospel!  Then you could understand the things you are talking about, until then, please stop filling the world with wrong thoughts about the One True God!

  90. Sorry, but I do not think that you can say that Facebook alone "killed the church."  The church is dead?  We only went to church to set up golf tee times, play dates, and lunch appointments?  Since that seems to be the premise to your theory, I'd say that your data is incorrect.  I think we call those kind of places country clubs.  

    I grew up going to a church that taught me to love the Scripture, to live for my Savior, and to make disciples as I live my life.  When God touches your life, and begins to work in and through you...there is nothing like it.  It gives you a sense of purpose and a reason to  wake up in the morning.  Sure, the social part of church is nice, but as a youth pastor myself, I can say that church is so much more than a social meeting place.  When God grips the life of a teenager through a church ministry, mission trip, and the power of His Word....that is a life that is forever changed.

    We need to have churches that make disciples.  Disciples that will, in turn, invest in the lives of others.  That is what the Great Commission is all about, and the true purpose of the church.  

    I also reject the assertion that this generation of young people are running away from the church in droves.  This is a deeply spiritual generation of young people.  They want to explore the things of God, they want to know more about Him.  However, this generation is quickly turned off by fake and pious people.  They will not hang around long if there is not evidence of the change that has been made by God in the lives of us at church.  We Christians tend to fall back on the "church is broken" excuse to keep the attention on what is really broken...and that is our personal relationships with God.  If you and I model lives that are aglow with the light of Christ, the young people will follow.  And hey...they'll probably facebook and tweet about how amazing their God is...;)

  91. People leave church because it's a boring one man show!
    They get to be treated nicely by people, get to know Jesus, and then left alone by themselves!
    No one loves someone else in church!
    They're all there for their own gain!
    Church is a place where there are a bunch of hypocrites sitting on a pew every sunday!
    I don't love because I never experienced love!
    But church should love, and they don't.
    Besides, I have ADD. I hate sitting in church for an hour listening to stuff I already know! It's not going to change me!
    I have more fun with my worldly friends (which I have none) than a single 'friend' in church, which I also never found!

    Church is a bunch of hypocrites, and they're in denial; thinking facebook is the one to blame for everyone leaving the church?
    Get a life! Get real!
    Church will be a thing of the past in a good 5 years!

  92. Odd...! The growth curve indicating subscribers is almost identical with that of the growth curve of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Do yous suppose there is a correlation...?

  93. If you look up "worship" in the New Testament, there are certainly some places where it describes something that happens when Christians gather together. For example Acts 18.13 and the chaotic meetings described in 1 Cor 14. The word "church" hardly ever appears in the gospels, and in the epistles it generally refers to a group of people, not a place or an event.

  94. I think you're overlooking another aspect of electronic connectivity: conversation. 

    In generations past, while people may have been leaving church for similar reasons, there was no way to connect with like-minded people about it.  I am a member of several ex-fundamentalist facebook groups, and almost monthly discover new blogs by like-minded exiles from the unChristian church.  We now have the opportunity to converse about our experiences and observations with people who have had similar experiences and come to similar conclusions.  

    It's very validating to us; we reinforce our separate decisions to follow Jesus outside of the traditional politico-business establisment that is American Christianity.  I see it as 100% positive. :-)

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  96. Religionless Christianity? You don't want Christianity without religion. You want Christianity without Christ. Which is no true Christianity. It's just purposeless morality based on nothing except "This is how I feel the world should be therefore it must be right".

    re·li·gion [ri-lij-uhn]

    noun

    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of asuperhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

  97. Quite some time ago it was said "God is dead." Is He? If the church is supposed to be the 'body of Christ' here on earth then has Facebook killed God? Or might God and the church be a little more resilient than we would like to think?

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    Unique will happen on Earth in May 2014 which never happened before.
    Save the people who wana be saved and leave the rest. She did not share this
    vision except me to anyone because already many people told this kind of vision
    but God had mercy and gave more time to the world to be prepared for heaven but
    this time He was not looking in the mood to give more time and Grace. So I wana share it with no discrimination of caste or religion, white or black, rich or
    poor, gentle or sinner, king or beggar. It is the Will of Lord Jesus Christ to tell
    the message of deliverance to everyone not any particular group of people. To
    the workers of Lord Jesus Christ, I request
    do it with the speed of racehorse not at the pace of snail or tortoise.
    Spend much money on big conventions, seminars
    not only on Sunday but 24x7 encourage each other and try to be philanthropists.
    Don’t hate anyone but give the message
    of God to everyone. Any one who read
    this message, don’t care the people what they do around u but seek the Will of
    God in ur lives He will tell u what to do. KL Angora

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