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.