Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church


(system) #1

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church

(Christy Hemphill) #2

(Organic Beast) #3

Christy,

Well, if those are the reasons you mentioned - young people leave the Church, then they CLEARLY have NO INTEREST for GOD! The Church cannot make one LOVE God. This is something between God and the Believer.

Reason # 1 - Nothing wrong in being protective. Maybe one shouldn’t be over protective and nosy… but being sober, holy and protective of the members … there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, the Bible itself claims that the leader of the Church is in charge of human souls that he is guiding… etc. So, very important.

Reason #2 This is because of the spiritual incompetence of pastors. It’s his responsibility in feeding his members the spiritual food that is found in the Bible. He can find creative ways to deliver his message and make it interesting to the listeners…etc

Reason #3 I clearly don’t see today’s churches minding much about science etc. They rarely talk about it…

Reason #4: Hyper sexualized culture and sexual revolution are something that took place within the social constructs of the western/American culture. AIDS, STDs etc etc were prevalent back then. I am surprised young people are really dumb to not see the very negative effects of the above?

Reason #5: Again, too bad. Just because I believe Homosexuality is a sin, doesn’t mean I actively HATE homosexuals. The principles and the word of God is very clear. LOVE is forever more advocated over HATE. What more do the young Christians want? How about they try the peaceful religion of ISLAM for a change then ??

Reason #6: There is some element of truth in this, based on my own person experience. Some pastors don’t like if they are challenged or if they are asked a lot of questions…


(Christy Hemphill) #4

So, I hear you saying, whatever the church is doing, it’s fine; the problem is young people. The ones that deserve to find Jesus will. Okay, good luck with that missions strategy.


(Kilkit) #5

I can agree with the first two but your contest to reason 3 is invalid. There are still many churches that preach the nonexistence of global warming, say nonsense like “the Earth renews itself every 3 days”, etc. An example is the church that my significant other’s parents attend.

Reason 4: yes STDs were extremely rampant in the 70s and 80s and today to a lesser extent. But you know what? That’s what happens when you don’t educate people about safe sex because you’re too afraid to talk about it. Does that necessarily mean that the youth of today who believe that practicing safe sex also go nuts? No. I believe in practicing safe sex but I’m not sleeping with every person I see moving around.

Reason 5: you may not think that you sound hateful, but telling someone that their born wrong for living who they love romantically has no bearing on anyone else. I don’t feel like I have to waste my time and energy telling people what they should or shouldn’t do if it’s none of my business and I feel a lot better now that I don’t care what people choose to do in their private lives. It’s funny that you think that Christianity is any different than other Abrahamic religions who’ve killed “in the name of God”, slaughtered my amerindian and African ancestors in the Americas, forced christianity onto them, and then dared to tell us that they’re a peaceful religion. That’s pretty hateful of you to pin point a whole religion with same Abrahamic roots as Christianity. It’s not that young people want to try a new religion at all, what they can’t stand is the hypocrisy.

So what more do young Christians want? Well I left because my views don’t align with Christianity, as well as people like you, and if that upsets you… too bad, you won’t be missed. They’ve moved on from the rules that governored the antiquated world, its a new world that needs a new order now.


(Organic Beast) #6

But besides that seriously Christy young people don’t need to hold their pastor’s pinky to follow God??? They cannot read/write/ comprehend plain English which the Bible is written in?

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” [1 John 2:27]

I don’t NEED a pastor to follow and be inspired of God and of His magnificent beauty and grace. Young people are leaving the church because they are losing that ‘zeal’ for God.I know what ‘most’ of these young so called Christian men/women do once they move away from their parent’s home to college lol

I would like to know what is your understanding of PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Christ then? Do I have to have a pastor/Church in my life to have a personal and an intimate relationship with Christ? No!

IF young people don’t agree with the Church they can leave that place and continue in their relationship with Christ as ‘Christians’. But many who walk away end up joining the natural/carnal world of SIN unto SIN.


(Organic Beast) #7

Also Christy, note that the other VERY MOST important PEOPLE in a young person’s life to inspire them of God and a Christian life is PARENTS!


(Christy Hemphill) #8

I did not write this article, it was published by Barna Group. I’m a moderator on this discussion forum, and I have not shared any of my personal opinions on this thread, so I’m a little confused as to why these questions are directed so personally at me. I don’t remember ever contending that youth should hold their pastor’s pinkies to follow God or that young people cannot comprehend the Bible. I do not believe either of those things.

Okay, nice proof text. Is that your general approach to the Bible? I’m good at this game too, but I don’t think it actually “wins” you anything. It’s a terrible way to do theology. That people benefit from pastoral discipleship is clearly attested in Scripture.

1 Thes 5:12-13: Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work.

1 Cor 4:14-17: I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me. That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.

Are you omniscient or something? I bet young people have lots of different reasons for leaving their churches. A professional research firm actually investigated those reasons and wrote up the results of their research in the article linked in the OP!

No ,you do not need a pastor to have a relationship with Christ. But Scripture clearly teaches the importance of Christian community, accountability, and discipleship. The Christian calling is not an individualistic one, it is to participate in the Body of Christ through whom God builds his kingdom.

Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Acts 2:42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

1 Corinthians 12:25-27 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.


(Organic Beast) #9

Firstly, I am not an American nor am I white but I will respond to Reason 5 response of yours:

Reason 5:

[content deleted by moderator]
I just recently heard a testimony of a SORCERER who experienced Christ and He went ahead and preached Christ and HE also mentioned that close to 12-20 people were raised back alive from the DEAD through the POWER OF CHRIST! Like literally from their graves!

Christianity is NOT a religion not sure who told you that. And why are you conflating/blaming the wickedness of some white Christians back in the day on CHRIST? Where and When did Christ command to Kill and to ENSLAVE? Do you not know as the scriptures says, “Wherever is the spirit of The Lord, there is Freedom”

White men/women did not drop to Earth from Heaven. Just like you, me and the rest they also came from the Earth/dust. So, ALL HUMAN BEINGS have a CARNAL MIND which is SINFUL and in enmity to Christ.

The scriptures also clearly say, that God is no respecter of persons. And do you really think that all those white men that killed and enslaved are going to be walking in the Kingdom of God? lol
[“For a natural man cannot receive the things of Christ”] So, those who persisted in that lifestyle will NEVER enter the Kingdom of God and eat from the Tree of Life, but instead they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire & burned up!

If not immediately, at least later in the 1800’s if I am correct, later the white man at least had conscience to realize that ALL MEN are EQUAL in the SIGHT OF GOD. What do you think would have happened if the white man got inspired from the Quran instead of the Bible?

You can SPIT on me, punch me whatever… I don’t mind. But, what charge can you bring against Christ and His magnificence? Please read my response to Christy above. You don’t need the Church to FOLLOW Christ. LOVE HIM! LooK UPON HIM! MARRY HIM!


(Organic Beast) #10

I did not write this article, it was published by Barna Group. I’m a moderator on this discussion forum, and I have not shared any of my personal opinions on this thread, so I’m a little confused as to why these questions are directed so personally at me. I don’t remember ever contending that youth should hold their pastor’s pinkies to follow God or that young people cannot comprehend the Bible. I do not believe either of those things.

Oops sorry I missed that part! (:

“1 Thes 5:12-13: Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work.”

Very nice. Some leaders of the Church if they are spiritually incompetent like I did mention to you in my original response to you. Sure, if you are not satisfied by a pastor’s work, one can go to a different church. There are lots and lots and lots of churches in America no?

1 Cor 4:14-17: I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me. That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.

Oh dear Christy, you just proved my point with the above verse don’t you think? That’s what I said right? Look upon the scriptures, the work of the apostles like Apostle Paul and others who were being anointed and guided by Christ. All the principles of Christ etc etc. So, you still need a PASTOR in the Church to teach you? lol

Are you omniscient or something? I bet young people have lots of different reasons for leaving their churches. A professional research firm actually investigated those reasons and wrote up the results of their research in the article linked in the OP!

I am really sorry I misunderstood it earlier. I read again, “leave the church”, and if that means not break off their relationship with Christ and a CHRISTIAN Life then that’s fine with me if they wish to leave for whatever reason. They gotta keep looking and pray to God. But if they do break off their relationship with Christ and SIN then they have lost their “zeal” for Christ. Trust me it happened to me too …

No, you do not need a pastor to have a relationship with Christ. But Scripture clearly teaches the importance of Christian community, accountability, and discipleship.

Sure, but to discipleship you don’t need to be part of a Church. In fact, I witnessed Christ to complete strangers. Simply shared my personal experience of Him.

The Christian calling is not an individualistic one, it is to participate in the Body of Christ through whom God builds his kingdom.

Hmm… but there is no scriptural mandate that my salvation is DEPENDENT on interacting with other Christians and the church etc. It is solely my relationship with Christ. But if The Lord does lead me to do anything for Him - do you think He would not communicate that to me? The church community, Christian friends are only for support, encouragement and in the expansion of the Gospel.

But I do agree with you that many believers NEED that support to help them in their walk … which is good.

So, what should the young Christians do then? Leave the church? No, but keep looking & praying to God for a church that jives with them or genuinely helps them in their spiritual walk with God. But we know many have left the church and started whore mongering (spiritual) with their natural minds like the unbelievers.


(Christy Hemphill) #11

No, of course not. But salvation is only the beginning of the Christian life. And the point of the Christian life is not avoiding sin, it’s being Christ’s representatives in the world, doing the good works God prepared for us and bearing “good fruit.” We do that best in cooperation with other Christians, because we all have different gifts and only together can we give the world a more complete picture of Christ-likeness.

I agree. But I think the article was directed more at the leadership of the churches, not young people. It is the leaders who are responsible for making sure they are not pushing people away at critical points in their lives by emphasizing the wrong things or insisting on things that don’t really matter. That is the reason we featured this article on the website. When Christian leaders put false choices in front of youth like “you need to choose between your love for Jesus and your love for science,” and then youth walk away because they believe this false choice is a real one, the leadership is responsible for that. They have put an unnecessary stumbling block in front of someone.

I don’t think it is fair to many youth to insinuate that the real reason they lose their faith is because they are lustful profligates bent on wanton hedonism. Many go through painful crises of faith and feel their questions are unwelcome and their doubts are not taken seriously by people they love and respect, and this can cause a lot of damage. It doesn’t have to be that way.


(April Hunter) #13

This article is very, very accurate. It is 100% the reason why I left the church. Thank you for explaining it so articulately.
And, it has nothing to do with leaving God. I haven’t left God. I left religion.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #14

Tell us more! Were any of the six reasons more applicable to you than others?

And welcome to the forum, by the way.


(April Hunter) #15

HI Mervin,
Thank you! Well, #3 resonated pretty solidly. It seems like the church eschews anything related to science. I’ve seen a few pastors strike a delicate balance with religion and science, and it’s pretty admirable. I don’t think it needs to be church OR science. I think they can live cohesively, in harmony, but we’re ingrained to believe they can’t.
4, 5 & 6 also were significant. Churches tend to be quite judgmental, which is wildly ironic, since that’s a big no-no. One need only to visit Pastor Nadia Boltz’s Facebook page to see some of the horrible and hateful comments (alleged) Christians have made. For those who are unaware, Pastor Nadia is not only female, but a former addict who has tattoos all over and doesn’t hold back when she preaches. Meaning, if it fits, she’ll swear. Personally, I’m fine with that. It makes me feel like she’s more real. I don’t want a pastor acting one way on Sunday and another way on the golf course on Tuesday. If that makes sense. (Plus, people who swear aren’t “carefully watching what they say.” That also can make them more honest and trustworthy.)

I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. I am a straight woman. But I believe you are born gay. My grandmother, who was born and raised in the Catholic church believed gays were born that way, and God doesn’t make mistakes. I believe Leviticus is taken out of context. That was meant for Priests, not the common man.

I believe in Pantheism. I don’t believe in wars over/for religion. It’s a misnomer. Everyone’s God(s) is the right God if it works for them and makes the world a better place. A Hindu or a Muslim believes in their religion just as fervently as a Christian. It doesn’t make them wrong and us right, or vice versa. It just IS.
And for some reason, there doesn’t seem to be any room for that in the church.

There’s no room to question anything, or to allow for doubt. I have never had a doubt about God. But I’ve always had doubts about Adam and Even and many of the other stories. However, when I ask, I feel like I’m being laughed at. I like things to make sense. Some things just don’t.

I’m not sure if that’s what you want to hear, but that’s been my experience as to why I’ve elected to remove myself. I grew up a Methodist and was very involved: camp, choir, you name it.

I’ve been to a Unity Church near where I live now in Florida on and off (I work a lot of weekends) and it’s enjoyable. It’s a little more open minded and focuses on positive messages. But in general, most of my friends have fallen away from their churches for the same reasons the author mentions so eloquently.

Churches will either have to adapt and evolve …or they’ll lose their congregations when the older people eventually pass away.
Thank you for listening. Have a nice evening.
April


(Mervin Bitikofer) #16

Well, swearing is generally frowned upon as a moderator pastime around here (at least in public!). I hope you don’t hold it against us! :grin:

It’s cool that you can express yourself with largely no idea what it is anybody here might like to hear (other than guessing based on the context of the site). There is something to be said for “largely untethered honesty” that (for many of the reasons you name) might be harder to come by or express when you are face-to-face with folks in a church setting. I can tell you this at least: you are certainly not alone, even among the God-fearers among us. I personally haven’t rejected the church in general, but I still resonate with and understand your reasons for your decision.

We hope to hear more from you, April!


(Brad Kramer) #17

(April Hunter) #18

Thank you!
Oh, go ahead. Swear away. :wink:
Thank you for being willing to listen. I appreciate it very much.


(Christy Hemphill) #19

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, April. Something I am interested in hearing from young people who leave their childhood faith or church is how their families react to it and whether they have any sense of loss or more just a feeling of “good riddance.” I have been surprised (and often saddened) by the variety of ways I have seen friends of mine and friends of my parents respond to their adult children’s choices. (Whether it is to come out as gay or transgender, partner with non-Christians or people from other religions, forego marriage altogether, or totally de-convert. Or even less drastic things like register as a Democrat, drink alcohol, get birth control at a Planned Parenthood, or accept evolution.) It seems like many people who grow up in Evangelical homes are ostracized in some way from their families when they leave the church or the church’s teaching on certain lifestyle ethics.

Most Evangelical parents are not going to affirm or support life choices that go against their values, but I imagine some manage to respond in ways that are seen as more or less fair and/or loving by their “black sheep” kids. I wonder if you have any insight or experience to share in that regard. Could your parents or spiritual mentors have responded in a way that would have pushed you away less definitively? Do you feel like doors to relationships have been closed on you because of your deconversion? Do you wish you could have some aspect of your past experience with church or other Christians back in your life?


(Mark D.) #20

I heard something on the radio recently about folks leaving church but not belief being called "done"s. A “done” isn’t a “none”. I wonder how widely used that term is. When I heard it on the radio about a week ago it was new to me.


(April Hunter) #21

I think that’s mostly accurate for the majority…not being “done.”
I can really only speak for myself, and I know I’m open to going back if the right place came along. But it would have to be tweaked from my prior experiences. I’ve seen a few churches incorporate guided mediation, really good music, short films, using current and relevant topics to go into sermons, state they welcome all, do cute/funny signs, and focus more on all the positive messages. These things are a really great start (in my opinion).

From the conversations I’ve had with friends in a similar situation, it’s about 60/40. Some feel the way I do, or call themselves “new age spiritual” now. But others are turned off and turned away. That’s usually due to parenting…bad parenting, being too pushy, punishment over lifestyle choices…and they’re atheists, now. Most are militant atheists, too - at any mention of religion, they get very upset, defensive, insulting and crap all over it. They know the Bible so well, they’re rather good at holding up a solid argument.
It’s not unlike being sexually abused or beaten by an alcoholic parent. After a while, the entire concept of sex just isn’t something you are into any longer, or you look at alcohol as a whole as just evil.

I don’t think the church is solely to blame. Parents are, too. While many have the best intentions, they don’t realize what they’re doing is the worst possible thing. A “live and let live” approach sometimes needs to be taken, while gently guiding. I know some evangelists have a hard time with gay and transgender, but if a child is born with Downs Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, a cleft lip or Autism, would they be ostracized or punished?While I’m not trying to associate being gay with a birth defect, my point is, most who are gay don’t want to be gay. Society is hard on gays.It’s a difficult life, full of judgment and abuse…often physical. I truly believe they’re born that way.

People do questionable/bad things and hide behind religion. There are those who justify terrible behavior, or are just shitty people and call themselves Christians. I knew a guy who was a stalker, bully, had tried to kill his girlfriend and was a repeated thief and liar. He went to church every Sunday. If you didn’t know how he really was, you’d think he was wonderful. Priests being repeatedly being caught molesting and relocated by the church don’t help the cause.
The media makes it worse, too. For every awful church scandal, there are hundreds of good ones. Just like how 98% of Muslims are decent, it’s that 2% we hear about and base our opinions on. For Americans, whatever is delivered via TV is taken as absolute truth, so…people don’t think on their own any longer, or research. With all the resources in the world at our fingertips, humans seem to prefer to be spoon fed someone else’s opinion.

That’s another problem with Christianity: blind acceptance, which is different than faith. Thinking for ourselves shouldn’t be discouraged. It’s a dangerous thing to stop children from questioning and thinking, because they may continue to do that for the rest of their lives in every avenue, and that leaves them as sitting ducks to be taken advantage of in the real world.

My personal experience has varied. I’ve traveled a lot (former athlete) so I’ve been fortunate to get a wide view of the world and meet a lot of different people. I dated a man for a few years from a Muslim family who was an atheist. The same thing happened to him (and many others who are from Muslim families) that’s happening to Christians. they’re turning more and more secular. I also saw someone for a year who was raised in a strict, mentally abusive Christian household who is one of the militant atheists I mentioned. I currently date an evangelical Baptist whose family is part of the church (pastors, missionaries), and both his kids go to Christian school. He is the sort of Christian I wish most people were; kind, nonjudgmental, respectful to all. (But he would be thrilled if I found my way back. :wink: ) So, to answer Christy’s question, no, I don’t think doors have been closed due to deconversion, but I’m also very open-minded and accepting. I’ve dated all types and tend to leave politics and religion out of it if the person is funny, kind, cute, interesting, shares the same values and treats me well. I don’t know why so many are ardent about only dating people just like them. As long as values are shared, the rest will usually work. I fully realize my S.O.'s faith is part of who he is and that’s how he raises his children. He was upfront about it from our first date. I’ll be honest, as a female who had a mother fight for the right for women to have a choice, one of the things I respect deeply about him is his stance on abortion. While he would never choose it for himself, he doesn’t think he has the right to make that choice for other people, as he doesn’t walk in their shoes. For me, that’s a refreshing attitude and a very respectful one. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable dating someone who is so controlling, they’d want to take choice away from others without understanding the impact of being forced to raise an unwanted child. (Without getting into a debate, I realize adoption is also an option. I also realize our social programs are pretty crap when it comes to raising a kid solo. We aren’t France.)

Again, I’m not sure if I answered any questions at all. I’m one of those “black sheep kids.” However, my grandmother never gave up on me and she was my rock. Despite my brother being the prodigal son, when my mother got stage 4 cancer and my Gram had dementia, it was me who gave up my pro athlete career and moved back home to take care of them for that last year. He was nowhere to be found, unfortunately. So, ostracizing your kids doesn’t always mean they don’t love you and won’t take care of you later.
:slight_smile: