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.