You can be totally good in religions

The religion of the millennialsIf God worked like my cell phone, I would pray more often

Never resting, being online all the time, distracted, constantly stressed - this is what many young adults feel like today. I'm 33 and this show is about the basic feelings and longings of my age group, early 20s to mid 30. We are called "millennials" - millennia. Born between the early 80s and the late 90s. A life without the internet and smartphone is inconceivable for us, the digital our living environment: Google, Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp, Amazon and Netflix.

We are Generation Ypsilon, Generation Y - Why as in English "Why". We have to question everything: Does this job really make me happy? Does this relationship make me happy? We are well educated, have studied, and there are endless possibilities. My parents said: "Study what you enjoy, then you can do anything". But then how do I find the right one for me? What gives meaning to my life?

Many of the ideas and life plans of our parents and grandparents no longer convince us. How the older generations work, live, love and consume, how they set an example for us, how the world should be - we cannot go on like this. We are the smartphone generation: the whole world is always in your pocket or on your bedside table, always online, a challenge that is still underestimated:

Feelings at the push of a button

"My cell phone is there when I'm afraid of being alone, when I'm restless or sad, bored or frustrated. It distracts my feelings. Only with my cell phone do I have a hundred percent chance of achieving the desired state immediately. I just go on the Internet and choose which feeling I want to evoke at the moment, "writes Sophia Fritz, 22 years old, in her book" God never offered me that you ".

Everything is possible with the smartphone at any time of the day or night: work, pursue a career, optimize myself. Communication, entertainment and consumption through to sexual satisfaction. Without leaving the house, not even the bed. In 2018, the Social Science Institute of the Evangelical Church asked those born between 1991 and 1999 about their worlds of life and beliefs. The most striking result of the sentence: "Everyone is the blacksmith of his own fortune."

Almost 90 percent said their life revolved around themselves. And just under a quarter of young people professed to believe in God. One participant said:

"I cannot believe in God because if I think about it right, I am God myself. I am responsible for everything that happens in my life. There is nothing else."

My internet is faster than god

And the author Sophia Fritz writes:

"If God worked like my cell phone, I would pray more often. But with God it's more complicated. God doesn't give me a distraction. My internet is faster than God."

The finding seems clear: young adults do not need God. You do everything yourself, on the Internet. Religion is superfluous. It is not surprising that our age group is not found in the churches on Sundays. The communities are dominated by the narrow ideas of the middle class. Do millennials really have no religious needs at all? Or is there a lack of suitable offers?

"Between confirmation and then young parents who then do something with children or something - there is somehow a gap in between. When you start working or studying, it's difficult. If you're still studying, then of course there is University offers, but there is this transition, then somehow there is nothing at all. Then there is a hole, "says Miriam Mair.

After school, she completed a social year in Brazil and completed a bachelor's degree in three subjects. Professionally, she is active in church youth work in her home country Upper Austria. In addition, she has just started a part-time master’s degree - in Passau. Everything with not even 24 years of age. Still she says:

"If you look at it in such a purely rational way, I could already have finished my master's degree if I hadn't done so much in other ways."

Miriam has two cell phones with three numbers: private for Germany, private and business for Austria. Her everyday life is determined by "the fact that I look at my cell phone a lot and then there are a lot of messages and so on. That is always immediately present. But then I often don't have the energy or the time to answer. And then it is just kind of like that all the time, with that in the back of my head and I can never really switch off so that I can somehow concentrate on things. "

Before I start talking to God, I have to calm down myself, writes Sophia Fritz.

"I want to be unavailable again. I want to have time to slow down again. What I lack: the ability to really not be able to communicate."

There are no seventh days in my life

Sophia Fritz illustrates the phenomenon with the biblical account of creation:

"God's exhaustion on the seventh day has an incontestability that I deny myself. I have no excuse for being exhausted after six days. God was allowed to be exhausted after six days, but there were no meditation apps, no deadlines , no caffeine, no yoga classes, no ski vacation and no time pressure. There are no seventh days in my life. God gives us a day of rest, but I could also work through what was left behind all week, "writes the 22nd -Year-olds.

It is not uncommon for us to reach our limits physically and mentally. In the meantime, the word "millennial burnout" has haunted the media. The life phase between finishing school and moving out of the parental home, starting a career, a life in a stable partnership, possibly starting a family, even buying a house, observes the Protestant pastor Hanna Jacobs. This time was marked by upheavals for young people, says the 31-year-old:

"Partnership, change of residence, positions are often limited to one, two or three years and you are looking for something new again. Somehow, a lot happens. And I think it's important to be accompanied and somehow also a place where one can be without being exposed to this quickness and this having to accomplish what. Spiritually, this can be translated into a need for peace, to find oneself, to arrive and to unraveled community. "

Buddhism beckons with peace and quiet

To meet the needs of young people, the churches have to rediscover their competencies, to a certain extent translate them into today and also make them visible, says the 31-year-old pastor. Many people their age associated peace and quiet primarily with Buddhism, looking for it in esoteric or other religious forms:

"Because they don't even know that we as a church can do that and when you experience such a normal Sunday service, you actually don't get that much of what silence, meditation, means to find oneself. That's why we have to First pick up this treasure that we have and show: We have that too! "

As pastor, Hanna Jacobs leads a new form of church, the "raumschiff.ruhr", a space for community, beauty, faith for young adults up to 40. This space is located in the nave of a church, the market church in downtown Essen, so put the name "spaceship" together. Under the church there is a cozy living room and kitchen. There is no traditional evangelical Sunday service, this form places too one-sided emphasis on the sermon, speaks above all to the head and intellect, says Hanna Jacobs:

"It is totally at one with the biblical image of man, that we are not just made of thinking, but also of feeling, of heart and soul. There are other keys to address that somehow. For some it is music, always already , that also has something meditative, something opening. "

"Orbit" in the "spaceship"

Therefore, so-called "highlights" take place at certain church festivals in the church year and a regular evening devotion: "Orbit" - with aesthetic and sensual elements, instrumental music and candles, an incense bowl for the intercessions. From the outside, light falls through the blue glass windows into the church, creating a contemplative, spherical effect. After the devotion, people often eat together. Young people should be able to design together themselves, says Hanna Jacobs. For example, mindfulness or yoga exercises would also take place if the participants offered them themselves. "Raumschiff ruhr" is inspired by the movement "fresh X - fresh expressions of church" from the Anglican Church, which is looking for new forms of expression for the church:

"What does God want for this context with these people and what do they need? And not always thinking that we actually already know what people need and we give them that and then wonder why people don't come to the offers. Even how Jesus acted: went to people and said: What do you want me to do to you, what do you need? And then he reacted and did not give everyone the same orders with the watering can. "

For example, the idea arose to offer a coworking space, i.e. the opportunity to provide the bright rooms and tables in the spaceship ruhr so ​​that young people can write their university work together or work on freelance projects over WiFi and coffee - instead of alone at home in the home office. This is expressly not linked to a spiritual offer, at least no longer:

"Before we did a 5-minute morning meditation, we said: if you want to do that, you can somehow get there. Then we tried it. Then we noticed. Somehow nobody comes, people just kind of want come to work. Then that's okay too. "

"I don't want to attack the people"

For Hanna Jacobs, the spaceship is her first pastor. She and her colleague, social pedagogue Kirsten Graubner, describe themselves as pioneers, want to experiment, try things out. They themselves belong to the young age group they want to address, know the needs and questions of their generation better than most pastors in traditional local congregations.

"That shapes our attitude that we say: We do things and if people somehow don't like them, if it doesn't resonate, if that is not right at some point, then we leave it again. That is a big difference to work in traditional local church where things have to be started and then always, always go on. "

Even her non-ecclesiastical offers take place in the rooms of the Marktkirche, explains Hanna Jacobs, it is clear to everyone that the spaceship ruhr is a church project, "but I don't want to attack people so that they can come and think: Well, actually I come to write my homework and have a coffee and oh, I feel uncomfortable because someone suddenly unpacks the Bible and wants to pray Why are we doing this? Out of compulsion to do it, or do we think that really makes a difference if you assault them with a Bible verse, even though they are not interested in it? I find it more useful, on it to trust that it is a good place, that it is good for them. And if they are looking for something else elsewhere, they know that we have it too. "

Being different is allowed?

Can my generation understand life differently from the older generation? May we have other needs, design new, exclusive rooms and formats for our age group? Shouldn't we pull ourselves together, finally grow up "properly", adapt to the old models of work, leisure and happiness? Or stand up, fight for change: more flexible working models, better salaries, flatter hierarchies in church and society? But what does the march through the institutions bring? The 68ers left us the world as it is now. Before we run unsuccessfully and exhaustively against the resistance of the elderly, we tend to work on ourselves in order to come to terms with the circumstances, with our overstimulation and exhaustion.

From the coworking space of the spaceship in Marktkirche in the busy city center of Essen into the middle of nowhere in the Franconian Forest near the city of Kronach. Here the Jesuit order has been offering "contemplative retreats" for 35 years, meditative, spiritual exercises in silence. Until recently, younger people were the exception in the courses, reports Annette Clara Unkelhäußer, member of the management team: The participants were 45 to 60 years old and older:

"A few years ago we had a young adult in a course, between 20 and 30, who at the end of the course said in the final round that he had considered whether he was actually wrong here. Why are there actually no other young adults here? Is something going wrong with me? Am I setting the wrong topics? Is there actually family planning and career planning in my life or something wrong with me? "

Together with the Jesuit priest Joachim Hartmann, Annette Clara Unkelhäußer runs the Gries retreat house. The young man's questions made them think. After all, for the first time they offered a course only for young adults. Five days of continuous silence, no cell phone, nothing read, as little distraction as possible. Walks in nature to open the senses and train perception. And contemplation exercises in a meditatively designed chapel. In addition, a daily one-on-one interview with a companion. The Jesuit Joachim Hartmann perceives a certain longing in the company of the young adults:

"We are a generation of our own, we are also a group, we are a size. We are not lost, so to speak, and exposed to other age groups that dominate us. We are the people who shape the future, we have our own Questions and we need our own space to make sure of who we are, what we want, what is important to us in our life. "

Purposeless before God

Miriam Mair, the 24-year-old Austrian with her three cell phones, has already taken part in the contemplative retreat several times:

"I noticed, so, I need that now, that I can switch off completely, so above all can turn off the cell phones, don't have to answer anyone and then somehow can take time for myself and also for my relationship with God, because that somehow always takes a back seat in everyday life. "

Annette Clara Unkelhäußer observes that young adults want more from life than just being performance-oriented, working at a tight pace and having to achieve the best results:

"To feel what it feels like to have a room where I can just be, as it is now, regardless of the results, and that in this space of freedom and silence I sometimes rediscover and feel who I am I really am at the bottom or who I want to be, what defines me, what bothers me. "

It is about being in silence unintentionally or purposelessly before God, in the so-called "Jesus prayer", with which Christian meditation focuses on relationships.

Achim, 25 years old, works for a management consultancy in Berlin. He tried the retreat for the first time this year. It appealed to him to switch off all external influences for a few days and not to communicate. Because of the silence he used his senses much more than usual. The meditations in the chapel and the perceptual walks in nature were very valuable to him, "because it is ultimately the attempt to perceive God through nature, through what is in me And I think it's a very universal way. I had a moment like that when I went to meditation. And actually you don't do anything. So you just sit there for two hours. And I noticed how I'm really looking forward to sitting down there now. "

Young adults, millennials or Generation Y. It doesn't matter what you want to call us. Many of us don't care about God. But those who are interested in it just don't want it to work like a smartphone. For us religion means: coming to rest.