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“Why do young adults leave the Church?” This question has been the subject of countless sermons, books, and (ahem) online articles. The concern of Churches and Christian parents is certainly justified. Life can be hard on teenagers, but the Church is a place where they can learn about God’s grace and draw strength from Christian fellowship. So why are so many of them choosing to leave?
Is it because of drugs? The Culture Wars? Same-sex marriage? Actually, according to Ed Stetzer on Christianity Today, their motivation is surprisingly plain. In a recent article, Stetzer lists six reasons why young adults leave the Church, beginning with the following three,
“We also asked young adults why they dropped out of church. Of those who dropped out, about 97 percent stated it was because of life changes or situations. That’s a pretty substantial number. Among their more specific reasons:
They simply wanted a break from church (27 percent).
They had moved to college (25 percent).
Their work made it impossible or difficult to attend (23 percent).”
Stetzer continues by saying,
“The reason that many church-attending young adults stopped going to church upon graduating from high school? Their faith just wasn’t personally meaningful to them. They did not have a first-hand faith. The church had not become a valued and valuable expression in their life—one that impacts how they live and how they relate and how they grow. Church was perhaps something their parents wanted them to do. They may have grown up in church, and perhaps they faced pressure from parents and even peers to be involved in church. But it wasn’t a first-hand faith.”
It’s surprising, but more often than not it’s the mundane things in life that can end up destroying our faith. Like the steady, subtle current of an ocean, small things can gently pull a person away from God. It’s not only teenagers who have to be vigilant either, any Christian can become a victim to small distractions. Chris Russell noted in a recent Crosswalk article that Christians can drift spiritually because of a busy schedule, misplaced affections, even abundance. He writes,
“We Americans are so fat with our own prosperity that we often make wealth our god and not the true King of heaven. This has also been a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. People struggle, God blesses them, they become prosperous, and then they depart from God. Ironic, isn’t it?”
Having a strong faith is not just about attending Church or reading your Bible, it’s about making that faith your own. Faith is like a tree, it must be cultivated and grown by the individual, and no one else can do it. If Churches truly want to reach young adults, we must first teach them their importance of maintaining a personal faith.
What about you, what are your thoughts?