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Monday, November 29, 2010

Why teens are leaving church

This could easily be titled "Why Singles Are Leaving the Church."

This is a reprint. It very old in blog years and it made me think.

Teens are leaving the church. According to the National Opinion Research center, in 1998 only 16% of 18 to 22 year olds had an active ongoing relationship with the faith of their parents. In “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” Christian Smith concludes that even when living at home and active in church, teens are embracing an aberrant Christianity, which he describes as moralistic, therapeutic deism.”

Ask teens why they’re leaving the church and they may say:
1) I never experienced God there;
2) My tribal associations are stronger outside church than in it;
3) The issues that matter to me aren’t addressed at church and the issues addressed at church don’t matter to me; or,
4) I never saw anything in my parents that made me want to be a Christian.

There is an mp3 of the discussion online at the original site. Check it out.

www.thekindlings.com/2006/11/17/why-teens-are-leaving-the-church-podcast-live-at-hales-segment-3-of-3/

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment!

11 comments:

Stumbling Forward said...

I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that these days, teens and young adults crave authenticity. There's so much in the church that is tied up on traditions and rules, battling between theologies and denominations that they miss the point. Instead of being real and addressing REAL issues, they stick to fluffy, feel-good sermons and keeping anything controversial blocked outside the back door.

I've seen amazing revival in some churches where they actually started addressing the real issues, and where instead of focusing on ideologies and theology they did what the church should have been doing all along -- they started focusing on what it was God wants to teach us, wants to say to us.

And because of that, I have witnessed some amazing things happen with the 'youth' that attend there. Complete life changes.

If only the rest of the Christian world would be able to take their heads out of the sand and start looking for something a little more authentic and a little less China-glass.

SavvyD said...

It's not just teens, though, it's unmarried adults who are just fed up with everything. I am. Every once in awhile they announce their classes and it goes something like this:

Pre-engagement counseling
pre-marital counseling
marriage counseling
young marrieds group
college group

and for those who just can't seem to find anyone, we have a young adult group, and if you're a really hard case, we have the eternally singles group.

Some Sundays I have no idea why I go. And some churches have none of the above happening at all and haven't had a wedding in ages.

Stumbling Forward said...

Well that was why I mentionned young adults as well and put hypens around youth.

You're right though. A lot of churches aren't offering enough, and are far too focused on either married/to-be married YA's, or those in College. They tend to forget about the rest of us.

My own church's YA group is floundering. It's overrun by teenagers, which, as much as I encourage having friendships and socializing between different age groups, it really takes away from the YA's when you're catering to kids who should be going to youth group.

So I stopped going. I know most of the other YA groups in our small town are also exactly the same. When the average age is 17, 18, or worse, high school, it makes it difficult to feel like you're in an environment where you can be fed spiritually.

It's only been recently I was introduced to a Young Adults group where I'm actually being fed, and where they are welcoming and accepting instead of the usual clique issues. The only problem? It's an hour away. Which wouldn't be so bad, if the road to get there wasn't the most dangerous highway to drive in Southern Ontario during the winter.

I was actually recently let down by the whole thing by my own church. Our senior pastor's mom approached me about starting up a young, single women's connect group. I was ecstatic. Finally an environment with young women going through the same thing as me.

Turned out, she didn't mean one for Christians who had been around a while. It was just for new Christians. I was pretty crushed, because I've been pushing for something for young, single women for a while now.

I think it speaks volumes (and not in a good way), to the lack of fellowship and spiritual feeding for young adults when the majority of them are finding more fellowship and growth online.

Stumbling Forward said...
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Stumbling Forward said...
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LadyElaine said...

The big reason why you see this happening: NO ONE IS BEING REAL AND HONEST WITH EACH OTHER. EVERYONE'S TOO BUSY WEARING THEIR MASKS TO actually be community.

EuropeanCatholic said...

The Church I attend is usually 90% full. It seats about 150.

It is a very old parish. It is overwhelmingly attended by people over 60 years old with about 70% of the attendees being over 70 years old. Obviously, it is wonderful they are so faithful and their faith is so important to them. But, it is also evident there are no younger people around this Church as in below 40 years old! I very occasionally see a lady about my age (32) and of couse wonder if she is single!

It is very difficult to meet someone nowadays because so few of people our ages actually go to Church. I work in a firm with 30 people. I am the only Christian and the only person who goes to Church. I think that is quite a staggering statistic!

And the focus in the Church on families, the engaged and generally people and groups we have nothing in common with means we feel quite alienated. Almost all my Christian friends who have got married have simply cut off ties with me and no longer have time to meet up.

Anyway, just a few observations.

SavvyD said...

@SF -- 1. Start your own group. 2. Go to the group when the roads are clear and you can get out there.

Nothing sucks more than feeling alone.

I am able to go to places and rub elbows with cool people. Yet I still feel alone. You know that Grammy nomination concert they showed on TV? I was THERE. Yet, I struggle to find a place hwere I truly belong.

SavvyD said...

@European Catholic

Your English is excellent, my Spanish is phenomenal. My Italian is so-so...

Do you like Depeche Mode and Muse? It would be a dealbreaker if you felt I were sinning for listening to them.

I'm starting to worry if it's just too late for me to find someone. I feel like I have tried everything and spent 1000s (literally) to find someone.

I think the only option left is to do the things that make me happy regardless of whether I meet someone or not.

EuropeanCatholic said...

I listen to some Muse - Guiding Light and Uprising are my favourites.

As for Depeche Mode, Condemnation and Personal Jesus are the only ones I know. I especially like Condemnation.

Like you I also fear it is too late. I look back on my university days and wish I had been more actively seeking someone. But then would it have been any different as I have spent the last few years actually looking for someone.

It is difficult to understand how something so common and indeed so natural (something which God has wired into our DNA - the desire for marriage) has eluded me so far.

For me the difficulty now is at 32, I am out of sync as it were with the stage I should be at in life eg. marriage. One almost feels a kind of oddball. So many friends are married with children and if I do meet single people during the events of life, they are either not Christians or especially now, they are perhaps in there very early 20s.

It does of course provide more time to focus on the things of God and prayer and Scripture, but I do long for a wife and long for a family!

One question I would be interested in you answerering is this. I am 32. I sometimes meet woman in their early 20s but think it would be correct to ask them out due to the age gap.

What age do you think is the lowest I should be looking to ask out? Is 22 too young or 23 years old. I would be interested to know from a woman's perspective?

SavvyD said...

32 is most certainly not too old for a man. No age is too old for a man.

I think it depends on the person. When I was 18 I was asked out by a man who was very nice, but he was 36 and someone else told me, "He just wants to get married." I might have enjoyed myself more if someone had not said that. However, he was seriously looking for someone and it was weird for me when I was 18.

I want to be married, but I will not marry just anyone just to be married. I want to marry someone I like and I hate to say this, but there are alot of people who are not very likeable.

You should look for someone with similar interests. Like I honestly would like to have someone understand my music choices. Unfortunately, they don't always like me even when we do have that in common and I don't always like them. I need someone who is intelligent. There is nothing worse than being with someone whose grammar you want to correct on a constant basis. It makes them feel bad, unless they also correct everyone's grammar, then it becomes an intellectual game with two participants rather than someone feeling bad.