Millennials are increasingly exploring and turning to occultic spirituality and astrology, as statistics continue showing rising numbers of "nones," those who do not identify with any particular faith. This is in part due to a mindset of fear and unbelief and comfortable Christianity, some pastors say.
Market Watch reported Monday that the psychic services industry grew 2 percent between the years of 2011 and 2016, an industry now worth approximately $2 billion. Also in recent years, according to Pew, the percentage of people ages 18-29 who "never doubt the existence of God" dropped from 81 percent in 2007 to 67 percent in 2012.
Pastors who spoke with The Christian Post believe the lack of spiritual power and a "comfortable" Christianity in the Church has created a vacuum of sorts, and a mindset of fear has constricted the real power of the Holy Spirit.
"Though some churches do explore the mystical realities of the spiritual realm, they are often marginalized due to misunderstandings or possible lack of biblical integrity," said Wanda Alger, field correspondent with Intercessors for America and a pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Winchester, Virginia, in a CP interview Thursday.
"At the same time, the devil can't do anything new."
She noted that Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has "put eternity into man's heart" and because human beings are made in God's image and God is Spirit, "our very DNA connects us to the spiritual realm." Therefore, we have a "natural" desire to know what's happening in that realm because we were created from it, she added, pointing to how God breathed life into Adam in the creation account and how in John 4:24 Jesus said the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
"Unfortunately, unless the church provides the proper context for this reality, nonbelievers will look elsewhere to satisfy their spiritual hunger," Alger said.
All other experiences with the spiritual realm — be they from psychics, astrologists, or mediums — she continued, are counterfeits, replacing something that is very real and powerful. She mentioned that Hollywood is exploiting this realm with greater attention on the supernatural nowadays which leads unsuspecting seekers into deceptive experiences that yield more spiritual darkness.
"Rather than deeming everything that is supernatural 'demonic,' the church needs to wake up to the reality of this realm and begin to approach it from a Kingdom perspective which understands its place and purpose," Alger stressed.
"The sad thing is that these millennials who are exploring the dark side of the supernatural have more faith and belief than most Christians. Because they are open and spiritually hungry, the spirit realm responds. The biggest hindrance to understanding the realities of the Spirit realm is unbelief," she emphasized.
Ken Thornberg, executive director of Freedom Encounters, an interdenominational equipping and deliverance ministry in Boise, Idaho, concurs.
"By and large, the church does not operate in power," Thornberg said, "and it actually operates with a lot of unbelief. We don't want to rock the boat."
Churches have gotten too comfortable, he stressed.
"We like our tithes and offerings and we can't afford to lose them and the Enemy has convinced the leadership of the Church that if they begin to walk in signs, wonders, miracles, and healing that it is going to turn people away, when history has shown that exactly the opposite occurs."
He has observed youth who meet people involved in the occult, witchcraft, and New Age spirituality, who hear stories of supernatural power and are intrigued. "But these are nothing but imitations of what the Holy Spirit can do in people's lives," he said.
"But the youth don't know that because they have not been taught or they have not experienced it. But they want to."
When Thornberg recounts to youth testimonies of the Holy Spirit's power and work in the world that he has seen personally, they are wide-eyed and engaged. Many pastors, however, do not go near this out of fear, he noted.
"But my Bible says that the Enemy is the author of fear," he said.
"When millennials see the faith and the power and the excitement of others in the occult, they don't see fear, they see curiosity" and an invitation to do exciting things, when such language ought to be coming out of the leadership of the Body of Christ, he said.
He believes that churches cannot afford to ignore the demonic realm especially since in the last several years it has come into the observable dimension of human events.
Alger added: "In our attempt to be biblically accurate and doctrinally guarded, the church has ended up operating in more doubt and fear than faith. That's one reason Jesus said, 'When I return, will I find faith on the earth?'" (Luke 18:8)