C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Look at Young Church Drop Outs

According to BPNews, “A new study from LifeWay Research reveals that more than two-thirds of young adults who attend a Protestant church for at least a year in high school will stop attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22.” LifeWay Research conducted the survey of more than 1,000 adults ages 18-30 in April and May.

Their findings: “According to the study, 70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22.” But also, “Many of those who drop out do return eventually. Among former church dropouts who are now ages 23-30, 35 percent currently attend church twice a month or more. Another 30 percent attend church more sporadically. Thus, about two-thirds of those who leave do return at some level.”

What is this telling us as Christian parents and members of Christian churches? Are we effectively ministering to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our children as we raise, and teach them?

Another article reveals some ideas as to what can and needs to be done.

We need to ensure that our children/youth have a personal relationship with God. This means we need to make sure that we present a clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to each and every child, putting it on a personal level whereby we acknowledge our children (and adults) in church need Him just as equally as those outside of church need Him. Too often I fear we stress the importance of witnessing to the lost world, while we overlook the lost in our midst, or even teach our lost that the lost “out there” are worse off. No, we can’t make a person have a personal relationship with God, but a clear presentation of the gospel, a direct look at sin in light of the holiness of God and Scripture, and a good Christian example of our own personal relationship with God will go a long way to show our children what Christianity is all about. Bringing our children to church “to get” something we ourselves do not find important or wish to adhere to, is not the answer nor the testimony of Christianity to our children or the rest of the world, nor is it pleasing to God.

Some of the children/youth simply attend church because of obedience/fear of their parents up and till they are able to move out or make decisions on their own, never truly having it in their hearts. Some fallouts can be due to rebelliousness against their parents and/or God still bound within their heart which they have fed and nourished for years while waiting for the great day of “freedom”. Some can be due to the hypocrisy and careless attitudes seen in the parents at home, whereby the parents seldom come or merely put on a fake smile to appease the church folk, only to return home to have the pastor and members for lunch. Some may feel (or indeed are) hounded by the church folk and/or parents with legalism extreme which surpasses Scriptural basis and drives them to a point of “why try, when all I can do is sin” attitude or a rejection of such dictatorship discipline that is not Scripturally taught with Bible, but lecturally taught with hypocrisy and rebuke, where all individuals are judged and honored by merely what is on the outward appearance, though the wickedness of the heart may go unnoticed (by some, but not all).

Others may fall out of church by the joining of the military or moving away after high school graduation. Sometimes it is a gradual thing. I know myself, after joining the military, I was shipped to Germany. There were only the chaplain services that I knew of, and did not care much for them. So, basically, I was a drop out. Until one day I met an individual that attended a missionary’s Baptist church in Germany. I think we sometimes become so attached to the church, pastor, and/or members of the church we grew up in (or have attended for a while) that we feel as though we cannot connect to a new church body or continue to compare the new pastor to our old pastor without trying to create a new connection. We lose sight that as Christians we are all in the body of Christ, and though different, there is a lot more in common than we realize. Coming from the known and close relationship, going into the unknown with no relationship is sometimes hard, and for some more than others. I believe this sometimes occurs because we build OUR church, pastor, members up so high, that we consciously or subconsciously see all others as lesser. This is an incorrect view and can harm the stability of our Christian children/youth as they move in life to other cities, states, or countries where our perfect little hometown church is not located.

Have I rambled on, have I made any valid points at all? If nothing else, I hope I have brought it to our attention that indeed this is an important issue. “Sowing wild oats” and then returning to Christianity can cause a great deal of long term harm, leaving people with unnecessary baggage for the rest of their lives. A personal relationship with God, and the understanding that Christians around the world serve the same God, use the same Scriptures, and wish to be obedient to the same teachings can go a long way with our children/youth as they move from the transition of child at home to adult on their own. A godly example from us parents and church members would do a great deal of teaching them obedience to God, even in the face of the unknown or unfamiliar is what Christianity is all about.


BEAST said...

I actually regard the high religious drop-out rates with gladness.

Having been a Baptist once, I am glad that I got out of the fundamentalist hell with my sanity intact, and I certainly encourage Christians to use their rationale to evaluate religion and view it with a more skeptic outlook.

Great post, Tim. For once, I feel happy reading your post. More of these will certainly warm my heart.


BEAST said...

"A godly example from us parents and church members would do a great deal of teaching them obedience to God, even in the face of the unknown or unfamiliar is what Christianity is all about."

Not sure if I would want to teach that to kids, Tim.

I wouldn't want to indoctrinate kids in that manner. Teach them how to view the world rationally, challenge views with common sense and always demand evidence. That should be the stuff kids should be taught, not blind faith.


Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Notice this study seems to be based on church attendance and not necessarily persons which have trusted in Christ for salvation.

It also does not conclude that these persons have left God to become agnostics or atheists, even though their actions may be similar as to one that does not believe.

Although they further state that 2/3 of those that drop out do return. Even though maybe not at a full-time level, per say.

The quote that you mention from my post is teaching by example, not necessarily by words or lectures. We can tell our children anything, and we especially like to promote, "do as I say, not as I do", but our example of how we act and react to circumstances (whether in religious or secular matters) is a valuable teaching tool to our children that are watching us.

BDAWG/BWC said...

As a full time protestant, non-baptist youth minister for the past 13 years, this particular post strikes a chord. In my experience, the idea of youth ministry has changed over the last 10 years. Youth ministry has evolved into family ministry. The discipleship HAS to start with the parents. It is not my job to create a foundation for youth. That is the job of the parents. It is the churche's job then to reinforce the spiritual development they "should" be receiving at home, to water it, nurture it, and make it practicle for them. The only way to accomplish this is to minister to the PARENTS FIRST.

If they are not receiving it at home, where they spend most of their time, they will not respond the two-four hours a week that I interact with them.

leslie said...

an aside: so where were you stationed in germany? my dad was a civilian but were were stationed there with the army a couple of times.

i agree that it is good to show that the church has a value to our continued existence and is not just something we do or suffer. we are a family and all that entails...and one we choose to be a part of no less.

i agree that sometimes we paint a picture of home in blood and the despair of finding anything similar guilts one away rather than finding a place where they can grow just as well.
i think much of that can be blamed on teaching tradition, or focusing on a 'preacher savior', than on teaching bible--as you mentioned. God's word goes further in offering comfort and direction to those who leave home and move on with their own lives, their own faiths.

good post... interesting study...
i like that people return; they don't ever really depart from it, do they?

like you, i wish the time away didn't carry the weight that it tends to...especially when you think about it and realize you didn't learn anything new...you just feel it differently.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

I agree with you bdawg, and leslie you bring it a valid point. There are those which claim, Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. But are all of the ones that leave saved? If not, is there a guarrentee they will return? All we can do is pray, minister, and be godly examples.

As for Germany: I was stationed in Vilseck from 93-98, and the church was in Nuremberg. Where was your dad located?


leslie said...

we were stationed at graff(not going to attempt to spell it) i went to 2nd-4th grade at vilseck..in the early to mid-80s..
my dad was stationed at k-town in fall of 96..at which time i went too to do a year of university in mannheim... and then came back for a visit a summer.


when i was thinking 'depart from' i guess i was thinking that you can't escape its effects. the deer panting for the water, knowing that only one well will satisfy. having that God-shaped void and recognizing it for what it is... whether you return, humbled, or return to it in anger and rebellion : you've returned.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...


I spent a lot of time in Grafenvere (sp?) training, and picking up and delivering fuel. I also visited Mannhiem once, but I can’t remember exactly why. Also K-town sounds familiar, was that Kasinslaughter (sp?). Over 10 years ago is too long to remember.


I see what you are saying now. Thanks for the insight.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.