Salt Lake church trying to attract younger members

Posted at 12:19 AM, Feb 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-17 12:47:24-05

Backed with a rock music sound, one church in Salt Lake City is trying to entice a growing number of religious disenfranchised youth.

According to a Pew research poll, nearly a quarter of those adults 18 to 34 do not affiliate with any religion. That is double what it was in the 1980s.

Members of Eastlake Church hope to capture this demographic of younger adults despite the growing odds.

"When people think about church, they think of a negative place, judgmental place - often times it's a lot of religious hoops they have to jump through, political agendas they don't agree with," says Eastlake's pastor Robin Gattis.

The Eastlake congregation meets inside a downtown elementary school for one hour every Sunday morning. Gattis says he has made it his mission to reach those in their 20s and 30s.

One of the young members Gattis reached recently is 28-year-old Tyler Pruitt.

"I was on Facebook and found an advertisement for free pizza and beer," says Pruitt. "And of course I'm thinking, I'm going to click on this, get a virus, whatever.  I click on it and it's a church and I'm like, 'beer and church don't go together.'"

But Pruitt decided to check it out at a time when research suggests six reasons why young people avoid church:

They believe religious services to be overprotectiveAntagonistic towards scienceOverly simplistic and judgmental on issues of sexualityUnfriendly to doubtersMember act exclusive or shallow

But at a time when many young adults turn to online social networking to build their sense of community, the Eastlake church is building a real life community for young singles between the ages of 18 and 34.

"We make certain it's warm and inviting," said Gattis.