Friday, June 8, 2012

Losing a Generation

Research after research after research shows, the church is failing in reaching young people. Many young people have a negative view of religion and particularly the church. This is documented very well in the book "Un:Christian" by David Kinnaman. As a whole, young people see the church as hypocritical, judgmental, too political, and out of touch. Some of these perceptions are unfair and many are perpetuated by the media. Nevertheless, some of these perceptions are fair and regardless of their fairness, these are perceptions the church must be aware of.

More bad news: many of our teenagers who are active in church leave the faith in their twenties. Yes, some return at a later age, but many do not. This research is well documented in the book "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church." There are several broad reasons for why many young people are dropping out. They find the church to be:

1. Overprotective. The church lacks creativity and squashes risk and innovation.
2. Shallow. Churches are seen as boring which give formulaic answers. The church does not give people a sense of calling and mission.
3. Antiscience and Doubtless. The church struggles with other people's opinions and won't wrestle with difficult questions and doubt.
4. Repressive. The church is just about religion and rules that inhibit fun and freedom.
5. Exclusive. The church does not embrace people who are different or disagree with them. The church seems particularly harsh when it comes to issues pertaining to sexuality and politics.

Again, some of these perceptions may be unfair. However, we need to be aware of why we are losing so many young people. We need to think of a way forward that is true to Scripture and yet understands the realities we are facing as churches. We cannot assume that people will just attend church like they use to.

In my next post, we will look at ideas and suggestions posed by myself and others. Many churches are already doing an amazing job of reaching the next generation. Hopefully, we can learn from one another. The news is not all gloomy, there is hope!