According to a report from the Public Religion Research Insitute and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, 18-29 year olds self-report significant levels of movement from the religious affiliation of their childhood, mostly toward identifying as religiously unaffiliated.
While only 11% of "Millennials," as this group is known, were religiously unaffiliated in childhood, one-quarter (25%) currently identify as unaffiliated, a 14-point increase. Catholics and white mainline Protestants saw the largest net losses due to Millennials’ movement away from their childhood religious affiliation. They also tend to hold less traditional or "orthodox" religious beliefs about Scripture and many other important articles of faith.
It is evident that the church must connect with its youth. Leaders must teach youth Scripture and mentor them as disciples of Christ. These youth must not only rise up as leaders of the church tomorrow, but today.
Recognizing the need to raise up leaders from our churches, LINC Houston recently put on a one-day youth conference Saturday April 21 at the Greenspoint Mission Center.
The theme for the conference came from Matthew 5:14-16 and focused on the words, "shine the light of Christ."
"Too many Christian youth are saying the right things, but their lifestyle is completely different," said Felix Martinez, LINC missionary and organizer for the event.
The sessions of the conference brought Scripture to bear on such important topics as relationships, abstinence, social network and bullying.
For several years Martinez has been on a campaign to start a movement, raise awareness and stand with the youth of Houston in their daily fight to live according to the Bible. The conference was birthed out of this desire.
"The idea was to impart to these young men and women how to imitate Christ in these core areas," said Martinez.
"I hope the youth will live in such away that people will take notice, and follow. This is my passion."
Speakers for the event included Rev. David Kim (LINC Mission Director), Rev. Ben Gonzales (Mission Pastor, UNVEIL Church) and Martinez, himself a lay pastor in the Denver Harbor area.
Asked to talk about relationships, "Pastor Ben," as he is known, made the point that sometimes young people hold onto relationships that God is done with. Teaching from 1 Samuel 16:1 Gonzales taught youth to discern God's calling in the context of their relationships and move on when the time came and not dwell on negative things in the past or get caught up in present relationships that deny God's will.
Gonzales challenged the youth and asked, "How long will you mourn over what God has rejected?"
Youth absolutely loved the conference. One youth shared, "The presenters hit a chord with us."
For now the plan is schedule another conference in the near future. This is the fourth youth retreat/conference that LINC has put on in the last two years and several key youth leaders have emerged. The hope is this trend will only continue.