Myths about Young Adult Church Dropouts

As a Director for Young Adult Ministry, one of the most common things I hear about or get asked about is what we’re doing to “keep kids from leaving the church after high school.”  While the “what we do” part is a constantly a work in progress, I found this article put out by Barna very interesting and helpful.  No matter who you are, if you have time to read it.. DO IT!  We owe it to a generation of young people to know how they best learn to love Jesus.

If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, I’ve summarized a few of their research findings below.  Their research was done by surveying young adults ages 18 to 29 and took place over five years.

Here are some common myths they debunked in their research and the truth they found:

  • “Most people lose their faith when they leave high school.” In reality, their faith is often still in tact, young adults do however often leave the organized church.
  • “College experiences are the key factor that cause people to drop out.” The truth is that the disconnect with the church happens long before they graduate from high school.
  • “Young people will come back to church like they always do.”  Sadly, while the past trend suggests that as young people get married and have children, they find their way back to church, the latest research is saying this is not the case.

To be honest, I don’t know if I really like the truth of these matters any more than the myths.  However, it is important that we work with accurate information when interacting with young adults today.  Like I said before, I don’t have the answer, but I think it is important for all of us to take ownership of making connections with people in real, honest ways, no matter what the age, in order to show them the truth and freedom found in the Gospel of Christ.   The following quote from the study hits at a few ways we can make a difference in the lives of young adults… will you join me?

“Churches, organizations and families owe this generation more. They should be treated as the intelligent, capable individuals they are—a generation with a God-given destiny. Renewed commitment is required to rethink and realign disciple-making in this new context.  [This generation of] believers need better, deeper relationships with other adult Christians. They require a more holistic understanding of their vocation and calling in life—how their faith influences what they do with their lives, from Monday through Saturday. And they also need help discerning Jesus’ leading in their life, including greater commitment to knowing and living the truth of Scripture.”

What to read more?  Check out this blog post and/or the book it discusses.

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