Tuesday, December 20, 2011

six reasons young christians leave church

Barna | Many parents and church leaders wonder how to most effectively cultivate durable faith in the lives of young people. A five-year project headed by Barna Group president David Kinnaman explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture. The findings of the research are included in a new book by Kinnaman titled You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church.

The research project was comprised of eight national studies, including interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors, and senior pastors. The study of young adults focused on those who were regular churchgoers Christian church during their teen years and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15.

No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged. Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today's teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. 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. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church's expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience 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. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

21 comments:

nanakwame said...

Most conscious folks today see good points in all religions, like most of my children, and dislike the proselytizing. 

Dale Asberry said...

Lol, 'conscious' folks. That there was the reason I've abandoned religion... it seems something in the very nature of religion that it aggregates those on the path to sleep walking. The hypocrisy of it all makes me want to puke.

CNu said...

The good point I see is that it serves as a reliable litmus test for magical-thinking and suggestibility...,

Dale Asberry said...

Is this a group you refer to when talking about harvesting the excess?

CNu said...

Only when engaged in wishful thinking. It's kind of like this Dale, an ideal human society world promote the most intelligent, empathetic, and prescient to the helm of species governance. The reality is that the greediest and most psychopathic are at the helm due to their propensity for murderous violence.

The collective security club qualities of these true-believer aggregates makes them exceptionally hardy as evolutionarily stable strategies;
http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2011/11/social-insect-societies-human-societies.html
http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2008/10/evolutionary-roots-of-base.html

Dale Asberry said...

Only when engaged in wishful thinking...
Gotcha. What differentiates this attitude from that of the psychopaths -- as this is their primary source of power? That is, extracting ruthlessly from these weak-minded?

exceptionally hardy as evolutionarily stable strategies
Both psychopathy and collective security clubs. What are the points where those wishing to break the stranglehold of these two stable groups can apply pressure?

nanakwame said...

Ideal - the operative word - And religion is made out of other human activities, like the Priests of Politics, of  Technology, of Markets.   I don't believe in religion; I studied religions for many years. I  left the Catholic Church after grammar school and went to the study of the Tao. I was 13 years old.  I believe in a Way of Life:

Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latinreligion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at rely...First Known Use: 13th century....makes a lot of sense, doesn't it Dale so what was it before? Remember CNu stated that One g_d religion was positive in human history over multi-deities from One beginning.

Big Don said...

It's all explained right here, CNu-----> 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXRjmyJFzrU

CNu said...

What are the points where those wishing to break the stranglehold of these two stable groups can apply pressure?

In my occasionally humble opinion, psychedelia comprise the single greatest threat to this established order. The widespread availability of inexpensive, powerful, and predictable hallucinogens would break this stranglehold in a hurry.

Tom said...

BD Cheesus man!   Yes that's happening.  No it doesn't explain it "all."   Can we not learn to distinguish, at long last, between applying a theory within its range of validity and applying it outside that range?

CNu said...

Good Minus God http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/good-minus-god/

DD said...

Neat article, but why must self interest be the opposite of morality? Morality has no meaning outside of a very complicated framework, with timeframe being a huge factor.

Also, why the faith in rationality? Even if self-interest IS the opposite of morality, why do we ascribe rationality to decision-making when we all know it has minimal bearing on the actions people take?

I'm afraid the nihilists are half right. Morality has no meaning in and of itself, it's wholly dependent on context. They are wrong in assuming that "moral behavior" is somehow the opposite of self interest, as if self interest can actually be quantified.

Even if I were to put all my efforts into sociopathic self-interest I don't have the slightest idea what action that would be, or if I was 100% successful in my actions if I would have actually advanced my cause or hurt it.

Can anyone actually describe a single action that is immoral and advances self-interest without reducing it to an absurd word question with extremely limited inputs and outputs? I certainly can't.

We're all fumbling in the dark here. Thinking you have the answer key (or even the list of questions) is really how we get ourselves in trouble in the first place.

CNu said...

I hold Thomas Mether's comparison of hesychasm with other traditions in the highest regard http://www.esicasmo.it/HESYCHASM/Hesychasm22.htm - and consider the quality of one's interpersonal communion with selected others the hallmark of one's psychological (moral) development.

DD said...

I started and realized its not a casual read.

I'm not arguing against moral behavior, it's my greatest task in life. I'm just pointing out that morality is context dependent. It is not a piece of the firmament or on par with terms like gravity, or murder or law. A concrete definition of morality is always alluded to but is just a bogeyman. Most context-independent moral decisions made by individuals end up being regarded as extremely immoral by society.

Morality as a standalone concept equates to religious dogma.

CNu said...

A human being as a "standalone concept" is ________________?  Interpersonal communion is the sine qua non. Everything else is merely conversation...,

Uglyblackjohn said...

Don't feel bad DD - I have a book still in the Fed-Ex package from LAST YEAR that I'm afraid to start. "Casual read", I don't think craig knows what that is.

CNu said...

lol, see, what you need to do is put that book on your bathroom bookshelf and think about it as something to look forward to when you go in there to "meditate"...,

Dale Asberry said...

The discussion on ethics and personal communion is a very tasty bit. The comment about enthusiasmos immediately reminds me of my Nazarene experiences as a child and the more subtle form of the core of my own 'sinful' nature that I'm working to overcome and seems incredibly prevalent in this American culture of 'never wrong'.

That said, I found it difficult to take the frequent tautological references as that is one of my core annoyances with any religion. Anything of a divine nature needs no other reference especially if it refers to a tradition only knowable within that set of religious beliefs. And, except for the dense wording (which can be inferred or looked-up) it was that tautological and hidden dependence on hesychastic traditions that made the essay unnecessarily difficult to read and frequently diverged from the divine.

CNu said...

it was that tautological and hidden dependence on hesychastic
traditions that made the essay unnecessarily difficult to read and
frequently diverged from the divine.


lol, were you expecting something perhaps a little more evangelically inclined?

Anything of a divine nature needs no other reference especially if it
refers to a tradition only knowable within that set of religious
beliefs.


I consider this a profound mischaracterization Nana Asberry.

Could EXACTLY the same thing be said of mathematics and mathematical thinking?

Why do you suppose I push certain topics harder than others?
http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2011/11/decagonal-and-quasi-crystalline-tilings.html
http://subrealism.blogspot.com/search?q=sir+roger+penrose

Mether is a specialist practitioner addressing himself to peers.   Over the years, I've found him to be simultaneously expert and ecumenical to a degree unrivaled since the 19th century orientalists Sir Richard Burton or Sir John Woodroffe, but you would have had to make long-term efforts to explore, know, and verify - in order to have come across his scholarly correspondence on your own.

There is a science embedded in these matters termed "religious".

It is the queerest of paradoxes to realize that religious science is simultaneously the most challenging subject anyone can ever undertake, but, at the same time, it is the ONLY field of scientific study to which everyone has perfectly democratic access.

That the science has been bowdlerized and denatured to the extent that it primarily functions now nearly exclusively as an artifice employed by deceivers to enthrall and exploit suggestible idiots - has nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of the underlying science itself.

The abuse of religious science is nothing new.

The good faith practice of religious science is nothing new.

Preoccupation with the former can really obstruct more valuable and fruitful engagement with the latter.

Dale Asberry said...

lol, were you expecting something perhaps a little more evangelically inclined?

I was expecting it to be less evangelically inclined.

I consider this a profound mischaracterization Nana Asberry.

Mischaracterization of what? Discovering divine nature most definitely requires traveling the path to understand it. Obscure, dense, specialized language describing the path is only accessible to those that have traveled it. I am most definitely not leveling a criticism at his use of this type of language. In fact, I would agree that there was much detail that I could not personally know. I also know when I see tautalogical arguments.

Could EXACTLY the same thing be said of mathematics and mathematical thinking?

There are huge areas of mathematics that seem to have no applicability outside of mathematics. That doesn't make those areas 'divine' as say the Pythagorean theorem is.

Mether is a specialist practitioner addressing himself to peers.

I considered that issue after posting my original comment. I can agree that he might have made some of those references using orthodoxy simply as a shorthand with his peers. All the same, those type of comments invoked the gag reflex in me whenever I saw them.

That the science has been bowdlerized and denatured to the extent that
it primarily functions now nearly exclusively as an artifice employed by
deceivers to enthrall and exploit suggestible idiots - has nothing
whatsoever to do with the validity of the underlying science itself.


Yup.

Preoccupation with the former can really obstruct more valuable and fruitful engagement with the latter.

Only pointing out my justifiable hesitance when someone comes at me with religious orthodoxy and my well deserved expectation of it being religious dogma.

----

I am more than willing to hear orthodox statements and have been enjoying the path that Gurdjieff has been laying down before me.

CNu said...

I am most definitely not leveling a criticism at his use of this type of language.

OK.

In fact, I would agree that there was much detail that I could not personally know.

OK. (which is why I spend a few hours every month chatting with the priests and nuns at St. Mary's.)

I also know when I see tautalogical arguments.

Please specify the tautology you noted in Mether's essay?

There are huge areas of mathematics that seem to have no applicability outside of mathematics. That doesn't make those areas 'divine' as say the Pythagorean theorem is.

Is the Pythagorean Theorem tautological? If not, why not?

I can agree that he might have made some of those references using orthodoxy simply as a shorthand with his peers. All the same, those type of comments invoked the gag reflex in me whenever I saw them.

Which is what I thought you to be saying. The archives at the Gurdjieff Forum are a treasure trove of Metherian scholarship. Interestingly, I have observed that he presents publicly as a true believer, (and I take him at his word), but in the semi-private correspondence of the forum he is infinitely more forthcoming about origins and connections and so forth.

Only pointing out my justifiable hesitance when someone comes at me with religious orthodoxy and my well deserved expectation of it being religious dogma.

I tend to disagree with this posture. If we were to take BD race "science" as exemplifying the scientific endeavor, then we would be doing ourselves a disservice as well as liabling science.

I am more than willing to hear orthodox statements and have been enjoying the path that Gurdjieff has been laying down before me. 

Gurdjieff is an invaluable way station, a collection of pointers if you will, to the core value propositions in religious science. What I attempt to do here is to share dots that I have found useful but leave the business of dot-connecting entirely up to the discrimination and initiative of interested others to connect up as they see fit.

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