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.