Why Young Adults Stop Attending Church

It’s no news-alert that young adults, who once were regular churchgoers, have stopped attending–a trend that typically begins in their teen years.   Consequently, the religious group that is having the most expansion is labeled “Non-affiliated.”   The percentage of young adult Catholics who regularly practice their faith hovers around 25%.   Since young people are our future, such a trend, unless addressed, is very troublesome.

Why do young adults stop attending church?  The Barna Group  (cf. “Six Reasons young Christians Leave Church;”  September 28, 2011, appears on their website of The Barna Group (www.barna.org) recently studied this group and came up with the following reasons.

1.  Churches seem overprotective.  As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in.  However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse.

2.  Teens and twenty-somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.  Young people who stop attending church as young adults feel something is lacking in their experience of church.  One-third said “church is boring” and one-quarter say “faith is not relevant to my career or interests.”

3.  Churches come across as antagonistic to science.  The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%), and “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%).

4.  Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.  One of the significant tensions for young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity, particularly as the age of first marriage is now commonly in the late twenties.

5.  They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.  Three out of ten young Christians say “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion feel they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.”

6.  The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.  Young adults say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts.  They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense.  In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial.

–“Six Reasons young Christians Leave Church;”  September 28, 2011, appears on their website of The Barna Group (www.barna.org).


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