Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church Part 2

The Barna Group, a leading Christian research and resource company that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture, published the article last September entitled, “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” This is the second in a series of articles in which I give my take on Barna’s conclusions.

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

I think this one nails the problem squarely on the head.  Most of modern Christianity has become shallow.  From what I have seen, most commercially available Sunday School curricula are very shallow; some barely mention the Bible at all.  Many church programs for children and teens focus far more on entertaining the kids rather than teaching truth.  In other churches, the children’s programs aren’t much more than baby-sitting, and the youth program consists of sitting around drinking sodas and playing ping pong.  No wonder so many young adults leave the church!  I’d leave, too, if that’s all I was getting.

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Very few church youth programs provide the solid spiritual food needed for spiritual growth and maturity.  Many don’t even provide spiritual milk – it’s more like spiritual “junk food.”  Then we wonder why the majority of our young people leave the church!

Nearly 1/3 of the respondents said church is too boring.  What a terrible indictment of the modern churches, many of whom have focused so much on entertainment that they’ve lost all focus on solid teaching – and they’re STILL boring!  We need to help our students understand that a relationship with Jesus Christ is an exciting, life-changing process.  If the focus is on building a love relationship with Jesus Christ, with growing in our understanding of the Bible and its application in our lives, and with investing our lives in the lives of others, then church could never be boring!  Sadly, very few churches have this focus.

Almost one in four stated that ““faith is not relevant to my career or interests.”  In most churches, there is disconnection between “religious truth” and life outside the walls of the church.  Most churches are good at telling students what to believe, but not at explaining how to apply truth to their lives.  We typically don’t discuss science, history, social issues, or interpersonal skills in Sunday School.  We tell Bible stories, in isolation, without any teaching about why the stories are important to how we live out our faith.  This must change, if the church is to change the trend of young people leaving the church.

Another fourth of the respondents stated that the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough.  This one is easily solved – TEACH THE BIBLE!  Teach it as literal history, not as “stories.”  Teach students how to study the Bible in depth, not just superficially.  This is why I’m so blessed to be involved as a writer for the Answers Bible Curriculum – an in-depth inductive Bible study that will take students through the Bible in three years, teaching students how to study the Bible, and teaching them how to apply it to their everyday lives.

Finally, one-in-five respondents stated that “God seems missing from my experience of church.”  How can this even be a possibility?  If churches were focused on teaching the Word of God, leading people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, and discipling Christians to a mature relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, then this would be a non-issue.

Christian:  What are YOU doing to ensure your own church experience is not shallow?  And, what are YOU doing to ensure the young people in your church are taught how to have a deep, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, deep relationships with others in your church, and solid, Biblical truth?

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One Response

  1. Thank you for writing about why young Christians leave the Church. I feel that this not only applies to young Christians, but to those who have been Church for a long time. Updating technology to keep the interest of a technological/videos to show Christians how God wants Christians to be more like Christ. Reading Bible is just not enough for them. “Show me what the Bible says in a visual form.” The Church needs to keep up with technology or we will lose more young Christians.

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