Will Millennials Return To Church?
Churches across America face declining memberships. Older members are dying and those 18 to 33, the Millennials, appear disinterested in church attendance - let alone religion.
Here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, where religion and religious institutions are strong is America really one nation under God or are we becoming one nation "without" God?
"To me religion is in a sense it's all about rules and regulations and we have this set of guidelines and we have the 10 commandments," says Megan Saltink, a Millennial.
Megan, the youngest of 5 children says she grew in a strict religious environment but lost interest.
"My typical routine that I had always known and going to church three or four times a week, it was like I've done that my whole life, here let me try this," she said.
A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center concludes Millennials are detached from traditional institutions - one third of adults under 30, the highest percentages its ever seen.
Jose Reyas is a focus missionary at the University of Tulsa.
He too grew up in the church but when he got to college in Arizona he grew out of it.
"Sunday was the day you rest after the Saturday party," says Jose Reyas.
Jose says he grew further from church.
"I felt that it was boring," he said.
So he stopped going as have many other Millennials.
Generally it's either an experience or a crisis that bring Millennials back to the faith they grew up with.
For Jose it was mission trip to Africa. For Megan, it was the death of a friend.
"It kind of hit me," says Megan. "It gave me a wakeup call. I was like what am I doing with my life?"
There was a shift and life became about her legacy.
"I have to do more with my life and the first place was getting on the right track with God," says Megan. "Kind of talking to Him and seeing what He wanted me to do with my life rather than just living it for myself which I was doing."
If experiences and crisis draw Millennials back to the church, is there a way for the church to make a connection before a crisis? And if so, what must churches do?
Pastor Nathan Allen from Joy Lutheran Church in Tulsa says younger people have a desire for authenticity.
"The church for our part often does a poor job of recognizing where others from outside the church are at," says Allen.
The point everyone agrees on is the need for authentic relationships in the church, society, families and among Millennials.
Relationships not religion bring Millennials back to the church.
"The church needs to educate itself in a variety of ways and ask Millennials to teach us how to do what we aim to do in a way that really connects," says Rev. Kelli Driscoll with Bethany Christian Church.