In our society, millennials — those 30 and under — are among the least likely to go to churchm, with only 2 in 10 saying that church is valuable. Moreover, fully one third actively oppose organized religion, while 59 percent of millennials raised in the church have dropped out at some point. Based on my experiences with Grace Episcopal Church, and The Episcopal Church as a whole, I’d say they are spot on, and I concur with the reasons they give for their decision to avoid church.
Per the Barna Group, millennials cite three factors with equal weight in their decision to steer clear of church: 35% cite the church’s irrelevance, hypocrisy, and the moral failures of its leaders. In addition, two out of 10 unchurched Millennials say they feel God is missing in church.
My take: Any church that thinks that shunning and smear campaigns are okay, or that refuses to hold Bob Malm accountable for his conduct, is all three: Irrelevant, hypocritical, and a moral failure.
It’s interesting, too—the doors at Grace aren’t exactly bursting at the seams with millennials. In fact, the ones I brought to the church over the years generally beat a hasty retreat, including one young couple that said that Bob Malm intimidated them. And in restrospect, not without reason.
Is Grace going to survive? I doubt it. It’s a costly place to keep open. Consider: It costs $2,685 dollars, each and every single day, seven days a week, to keep the place running. That’s a boatload of money at a time when one in three people under age 30 actively oppose organized religion. At a time when many millennials are having a hard time getting on their feet, many will find it difficult to justify supporting someone who lives life large, enjoying more than a month at the shore every summer, a defined benefit retirement plan, and an annual salary pushing $200,000, all while doing the absolute bare minimum.
Nor is Bob’s almost 200K the same as your and my 200K. Clergy who enjoy a housing allowance take the housing allowance free of income tax AND get to deduct the interest on their mortgage.
So, next time you hear Bob Malm gassing on about the importance of sacrificial giving, feel free to ask him what exactly he plans to sacrifice as part of his giving.