Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Young adults quiting church December 11, 2007

About three-fourths of young people quit church. Lifeway Research (Southern Baptist) says they know the reasons why 70 percent of 18-year-olds who attended church regularly in high school quit by age 23: they don’t like it. And by age 30, 34 percent still have not rebounded. That means one in four young Protestants has left the church. Read the report in Christianity Today or Lifeway Research.

So why do they drop out? On their laundry list of reasons: they wanted a break (27%), church is too judgmental (26%), they moved away to college (25%), busy with work (23%). On the positive side, the 30 percent who kept attending church cited solid spiritual reasons, including: “it’s vital to my relationship with God” (65%) and church “helps guide my everyday decisions” (58%).

Lifeway’s Ed Stetzer blames the losses on youth ministry: “Too many youth groups are holding tanks with pizza,”  “There’s no life transformation taking place. People are looking for a faith that can change them and be part of changing the world.” This is nothing new -denominational leaders blamed the youth workers and youth worker found their church structure too rigid or their hands tied up to do anything meaningful.

“Unless religious leaders take younger adults more seriously, the future of American religion is in doubt,” said Bowling Alone author and Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow, whose new book, After the Baby Boomers, was published in September. “The proportion of young adults identifying with mainline churches is about half what it was a generation ago, and evangelicals have barely held their own.”

I wonder among immigrant churches how many would have the courage and honesty to study about this growing trend in their own context. We rather look in other direction and pretend that there is no problems. Otherwise we are so preoccupied with those who show up that we are not even aware of those falling through the cracks. For the coconut generation book, we had taken a poll of church drop outs among Asian Indian churches and the reason behind their leaving their parent’s church.

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2 Responses to “Young adults quiting church”

  1. baptizedbyice Says:

    Along with many of my college friends, one of the reasons other than lack of time due to the need to study, is that we have taken our faith with us. It is an integral part of who we are and we feel that church and religion in general is a corrupt manifestation of the God that we know. Church sometimes feels like a cult atmosphere. We stand, sit up and say everything at the same time. The decrease in church attendence is less a statement on lack of belief in God, but more of an individual based faith absent from judgement and preachy atmospheres.

  2. Joe Varghese Says:

    The irony of “generational” frustrations against the Church is the fact that one day we all grow older. I fear the Indian Christian community in America is going to run straight into this oncoming reality train, and bring the fact that we (i.e., the 2nd generation) will also one day become parents and have kids of our own who will look at us as being judgmental and preachy.

    The Church is the body of Christ that is established to teach us the “God that we know”. Regardless of denomination (Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical, etc) – the doctrine is what grounds our belief. St Paul cautioned and emphasized so much about wrote a lot about the “cunning and craftiness of men” and false doctrine, which is why things were set up the way they more than 2000 years after Christ died on the cross.

    It is true that many of the Indian Churches did not properly teaching our generation Christ’s Word (both written and spoken), and so we found this from other sources or were recruited during highschool and college. The root of this failure in the Church was due to the fact the first generation of Indians struggled mightily to create a foothold in America for all of us, and just established the Church here on American soil using the same rules and regulations from India.

    I just wish more of my generation would have the wisdom to not confuse issues, and the humility to trust their “home” Church. Rather than making a statement of walking away or ridiculing the doctrine, instead use that energy to seek personal growth through the Church resources and also offer the skills God had given to better the Church and others who are struggling with the same questions.

    That little investment later would yield fruit when we all become parents and without a true “home” Church the cycle will repeat. These are words from experience … 10 years ago I too was a rebel who thought he knew everything, but now looking at my own kids have many of these sobering truths and observations been put on the table.


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