Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

Degree Name

D.Min.

Abstract

Across the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) connectional church, there appears to be a widening gap between an ageing population of members and the youth and young adult population. This widening gap manifests itself in millennials insignificant participation in church worship and church activities. As this gap continues to grow, the denomination does not appear to have significant strategies to address it. At the inception of this study, the millennial attendance at Sunday morning worship services and at other church related activities at Linden-Shorts CME church, in Atlanta, Georgia, was very inconsistent and at times almost non-existent.

This study is important in that it adds to the body of research which addresses attendance patterns of millennials in mainline denominations, with an emphasis on African American church attendance and participation in church related activities. This task was accomplished by using the ethnography research method. During the course of this study I met with millennials and participated in open discussions with them to gather data about which offers their perception of church (worship, involvement etc.); and other pertinent data that is relevant to this study. In addition to the documenting information related to the group conversations with the CME millennials, a summary of the findings from thirty interview questionnaires that millennials completed is a part of the research findings. Additionally, I reviewed some of the most recent scholarly research which addressed religious attendance patterns of the millennial generation. This information was very important because it explained the impact of culture, Society and competing Worldviews which also influence how millennials perceive religious institutions.

The findings for this study were based on the ethnography research method. Interview questionnaires were completed by thirty millennials. Out of the thirty millennials, nineteen of the millennials belonged to the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination, nine of the millennials belonged to other denominations and two did not specify a denomination.

Based on the results of the interview questionnaires, the millennials attend Worship services and other church related activities. However, they do not attend every Sunday. Various reasons were given for the inconsistent attendance such as, resting, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for the work week ahead. Millennials are serious about spirituality, but church is not necessary for them to honor traditional practices. Millennials are seeking meaningful worship with relevant sermons and contemporary aspects of worship. The review of literature also points to intergenerational Worship and congregational life as a way to re-engage the millennial generation to the church.

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