Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome - Reba Riley

59% of all Millennials who grew up in church drop out either permanently or for an extended period of time.

When I read surveys and studies about America's changing religious landscape, I don't see statistics. I see Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.

It is real, pervasive, and quite possibly one of the reasons why the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly 80 percentage points since 2007.

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is:
  • A condition of spiritual injury that occurs in the context of religion, faith and/or the leaving, losing or breaking thereof
  • The aftermath of said spiritual injury
  • A diagnosis intended to aid in serious spiritual healing.

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome can be seen in the many people tired of being spiritually bruised, of their faith being used to justify unloving policies, and some of whom give up on faith altogether.  In fact, 59% of all Millennials who grew up in church drop out either permanently or for an extended period of time.

For me, questions about faith weren't being asked or answered by the theology preached by family's church of my childhood.  It felt like the deconstruction of an entire world view all at once.

No one ever told me it was ok to explore outside the lines of my upbringing.  No one told me that God was big enough to handle all of my doubts, questions, wondering and wandering or that God would meet (and was already residing) wherever I was - or wasn't.

For me, the term Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome framed the pain I couldn't express.  It helped to identify the reason why I couldn't pray or darken the door of a church.  In the midst of such tumult, it is important for each individual to remember that they are not alone in their upheaval. When I have shared my experience with others, so many have had the same experience and say, "[t]hat's me."

I found my way through Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by finally understanding that God was everywhere and in everyone whether they knew it or not.  I finally understood that we are all connected.

At last I understood that we cannot experience God without one another, because God is love. If faith is love in action, God is in love in action times infinity.

Full articles are available at Time Magazine, HuffPost Religion, Religion News and Faith Street.