Check out this recent study being put out by Barna. They spent 5 years asking the question “why do teens tend to give up on or leave the church after they turn 15?”
The findings (which can be more explored in David Kinnaman’s newest, “You Lost Me“) reveal that most of the reasons why young people are leaving the church can be summed up in to 6 main concepts:
1) Churches seem overprotective
2) Their experience of Christianity is shallow
3) Churches come across as antagonistic to science
4) Church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental
5) They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity
6) The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt
Now, clearly I’m not one of the statistics of “those who left the church.” However, I AM one of those who have found the tension in all six of these areas, particularly numbers 3-6.
There are many of us who are exploring new ways to approach these issues. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say, we are uncovering ways that are old (hearken back to Jesus and the Biblical Writers) but that have been lost and so now are seeming new, or fresh. And many communities and churches are starting to address these issues in ways that resonate with people (most of all, the disenfranchised youth referred to in this study).
I think it’s high time we start listening to the voices of the next generation, for in them I sense a call to return to lost values and misplaced beliefs.
I, for one, am hopeful.
Hopeful that Christian women and men are rising up to the challenges of addressing these (and other) issues that are slowly emptying our churches.