A couple of months ago, I read a book called You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church… and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman. Kinnaman conducted extensive research and interviews with young Christians who have distanced themselves from the church for a number of different reasons, whether it is permanently or for an extended period of time. For a little more information about the different groups of Christians who distance themselves (nomads, prodigals, and exiles), check out this video from David Kinnaman.
This morning I was re-reading an article from the Barna Group that sums up the six most prominent reasons that young Christians have been leaving the Church. It is often easy to see them as a lost generation, but I would ask, are we, those who are still in the Church perhaps a lost generation? Not lost in the sense that we are wandering far from God, but lost in the sense that we have forgotten how to engage the world? Lost in the sense that we are failing, on many levels, to seriously engage the significant questions that our young people have? Lost in the sense that we think they will just find their way back when they get a little older and start to settle down?
Over the next few blog entries, I want to take a little bit of time to reflect on those six most prominent reasons that young Christians have been leaving the Church, and how we, as those who I believe truly do care about raising up a young generation of healthy and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, can begin to bridge these gaps.
The six reasons I will explore are:
- Churches seem overprotective.
- Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
- Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
- Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
- They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
- The Church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Regardless of what you think about the legitimacy of each of these reasons, they are the perceptions nonetheless, and they must be addressed if we want to see the Church not just survive, but thrive. If you want to read the whole article from the Barna Group, check it out here.