Every year in the US, more young people leave the churches in which they were raised, sometimes abandoning religious faith altogether and becoming what the pollsters call “Nones.” Even within these churches, those young folk who stay identify less and less with the historic confessions, opting for a subjective piety of being good and feeling good—what Christian Smith calls “Moral Therapeutic Deism.” Watching this trend, our churches ask anxiously, “How will we survive? The young are our future!”
As worrying as all this is, Andrew Root argues that it isn’t a problem unique to Millennials or the younger Generation Z. In his book Faith Formation in a Secular Age, Root shows that the exodus of the young and the anxiety of the old both arise from the fundamental conditions of our secular time: materialism, individualism, consumerism, and the cults of youth and authenticity. In this episode of Christian Humanist Profiles, David Grubbs interviews Dr. Andrew Root, Carrie Olson Baalson Chair of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, and author of “Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness (Baker Academic, 2017).