Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Why Are Youth Still Staying Away From Church?



    The Barna Group and David Kinnaman continue to share findings from their five-year project surveying youth and young adults on their reasons for disconnecting from the Church.  In particular, the study looked at those youth who had been active in church but are no longer.  The respondents shared many reasons but six major themes emerged for what seems to be keeping youth away from organized Christian faith:

    1) Churches seems overprotective (e.g. resist, demonize, and ignore real-world issues and problems).
    2) Youth experience Christianity in the Church as shallow (e.g. not relevant or connected to an experience of God.)
    3) Churches appear antagonistic to science.
    4) Churches take an overly-simplistic or judgmental view of sexuality.
    5) Youth struggle with exclusive claims of some Christian churches.
    6) Youth sees the Church as unfriendly to those who doubt. 

    Their findings suggest that churches ignore these issues at our own peril.  Twenty years ago we could rely on youth leaving the church for a few years, then marrying, starting a family and coming back.  This just isn't the case anymore for most youth. Adolescence stretches into the mid-to-late twenties and many young people put off school, career, and family much longer. Additionally, the internet and social media are exposing young people to a vastly diverse world of ideas, religious beliefs, and culture.  In other words, its a whole new ballgame.  I'm currently reading Kinnaman's latest book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church and Rethinking Faith.  My review to follow soon.  

    3 comments:

    scott49303 said...

    Has anyone thought through this theologically? Blame is being shifted to the church for "losing" people. Unbelievers are excusing their unbelief and saying, "The church did not cater to me in this way, therefore I cannot subscribe to its beliefs."
    These people have been exposed to God and His Truth, and have "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness". Why are we surprised that people hate the church? They hated our Savior too. And why are we so concerned with catering to the world? Jesus and the apostles never did this. In fact, when you read through the Gospels, you see Jesus turning people away with what He says. He never apologizes for offending people with what He says and neither should we.
    Why are we listening to unbelievers tell us what is wrong with the Church? They do not and cannot know what the Church is apart from knowing Christ. They are foolish pagans who "do not accept the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him." Let's stop secularizing the church to be run like a business.
    We need to be extremely careful when trying to make the church attractive to the world. The Gospel is offensive and we should not try to make it less offensive. When we remove the offense of the Gospel, it ceases to be the Gospel. If you want to put blame on somebody for that, you will have to blame God. Otherwise, the individual non-believer is solely responsible for rejecting the Gospel.
    Now, if we are preaching something besides the Gospel, the church is to be blamed. I pray that is not what is happening.

    stcroixreformed.org said...

    Good stuff. The Gospel is supposed to be good news, and what the research is saying is that it sounds like a lot of BAD News. But I think another thing is going on here.... other surveys also show we are in a time of institutional distrust, and the church looks like an institution. This is another reason we need to do a little more de-institutionalizing of the look and location of our youthwork. To Scott: Youth ministries which practice and teach inclusivity rather than exclusivity are pickin the mind of Christ who placed compassion and servanthood above religious argument.

    stcroixreformed.org said...

    Good article. The Gospel is supposed to be good news, and what the research is saying is that it sounds like a lot of BAD News. But I think another thing is going on here.... other surveys also show we are in a time of institutional distrust, and the church looks like an institution. This is another reason we need to do a little more de-institutionalizing of the look and location of our youthwork. To Scott: Youth ministries which practice and teach inclusivity rather than exclusivity are pickin the mind of Christ who placed compassion and servanthood above religious argument.