It is not hard to see that the young people demographic across all religious groups is shrinking. It seems that it has becoming increasingly difficult to keep youth of America interested in religion. According to Lifeway Research 70% of young adults stop attending church regularly for at least a year. They also asked why it was the case. Here is what they found out.
· 27% say they wanted a break from church. (20% said they had planned on doing this as soon as they finished high school)
· 25% say they moved to college and stopped attending church.
· 23% say work responsibilities prevented them from attending.
· 22% say they moved too far away from the church to continue attending.
· 22% became too busy, though still wanted to attend.
· 17% chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.
As I look at these numbers I am deeply saddened. 27% sighted the desire to take a “break.” 20% of that group had wanted to take a break since high school. It is clear to me that they continuing to attend services was something that his/her parents would have demanded it. This is an issue of the home. Church is not something we “do.” Church is something that we are apart of. What was interesting was the numbers that explained why a person remained faithful:
· 65% say church was a vital part of their relationship with God.
· 58% say they wanted the church to guide their decisions in everyday life.
A majority of the faithful young people realize that church consisted of a relationship that was a vital part of who they are. When we think of “churching” our young people we have the wrong idea entirely. When we “church” our young people we think that if we can teach them the basics of Christianity, if we can teach them who Jesus is, what the church really is, what sin really is, and what we need to do to be saved that we have all of a sudden managed to get them what they needed. The rest comes with age. The rest comes when they get older and we have “time” to teach them what we call the meatier matters of the law. But, what if what we call the “meatier” matters is not meat but milk and we in then end are depriving the young people of exactly what they need. In the end they end up starved. They see the worship hour failing to give them what they need and they start looking for it somewhere else. For many, it is education, for others purpose is found in work, for some it is recreational activities, and for some it is their relationships with their friends. Their friends that they are convinced know them and understand them better than anyone.
Is that really true? Do one’s worldly friends really know us better? Sadly, yes. And that is the problem. When the church becomes something you do or a place you go and it fails to be a part of you, then yes your friends end up knowing you better. As strange as it may seem, I am a bit of an anomaly. The biggest reasons why I didn’t quit on God was that I was terrified of Him. I assure you, it had nothing to do with being a part of a family. Many of the young people in our church walked away. Most of them never to come back. (3 still faithfully attend). What went wrong? For two of us who ventured off to Florida College together we both saw it when we returned. Church had become something we did, not part of who we are. We both started making changes when we returned. We started getting involved in each other’s lives. This environment still exists among the young people there. (I am not saying that no one slips between the cracks. I am not saying that no one walks away from the Lord). What I am saying is that when church becomes about relationships and not activities it is much more personal.
Church is about our relationship with our Creator. It is about our relationship with our Savior. It is about our relationship with one another. Let us be certain that we teach our children the real reason why we gather. We want to be with our Father in heaven. (He offers a meal every week). We want to be with our Savior who cares for us as much as a hen loves her chicks. And we want to be with the greatest family to ever exist. One that loves, cares, for and knows me often times better than I know myself.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Why is the Church Losing Young People?
Volume 7 Issue 35