David Kinnaman, the president of the Barna Group (a Christian-focused polling organization), just released his newest book, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith.
So why are Christians — real, churchgoing Christians — leaving the faith later in life?
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.
You can see Kinnaman’s six reasons here.
- The Church is too insular — They tell you everything outside the church is bad and wrong… even though young people know that’s not the case.
- Church isn’t important, relevant, or interesting to the younger generation.
- Christians are too anti-science.
- Christians are sex-negative, wrongly pushing abstinence-only education and avoiding frank discussions about sex.
- Christianity is too “exclusive” — you’re either one of them or you’re the enemy.
- Christians are hostile to those who doubt any part of the faith.
I have no reason to doubt Kinnaman’s findings — and keep in mind these are only the top six reasons, not all the reasons. I’ll admit to being surprised that “I just stopped believing what they preached” and “I was ashamed of the church’s stance on homosexuality” didn’t make the cut.
Here’s the takeaway from the findings, though: Christians aren’t leaving the faith because people like us are pulling them away from it. They’re leaving the faith because the Church is pushing them away.
Even if atheists never wrote another book or blog post, young people will continue to fall away from Christianity. We can always help the process move faster, though, by constantly discussing/debating these issues in our communities, challenging the lies they tell, pointing out their hypocrisy and intolerance at every opportunity, and giving brand new atheists a community to join when they leave their Christian groups.
The Church is doing the bulk of our work for us. But there’s no reason we can’t help them out.
(Thanks to Nancy for the link!)