Some good news in the area of young adults continuing their church attendance after they leave home. A recently released study from Lifeway Research reports that 66 percent of American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, 34 percent say they continued to attend twice a month or more. Why is this good news; the numbers may appear more hopeful when compared to a 2007 study that showed 70 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds left church for at least one year. https://lifewayresearch.com/2007/08/07/reasons-18-to-22-year-olds-drop-out-of-church/
The study also discovered the five most frequently chosen specific reasons for dropping out were: moving to college and no longer attending (34 percent); church members seeming judgmental or hypocritical (32 percent); no longer feeling connected to people in their church (29 percent); disagreeing with the church’s stance on political or social issues (25 percent); and work responsibilities (24 percent). Having this information available will help churches in directing parents and those leaving home, of the obstacles that are ahead. If students are leaving home for college, having a plan for church attendance in the location of the school will make a significant impact on future attendance.
Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research says, “Most of the reasons young adults leave the church reflect shifting personal priorities and changes in their own habits. Even when churches have faithfully communicated their beliefs through words and actions, not every teenager who attends embraces or prioritizes those beliefs.” For the most part, people aren’t leaving the church out of bitterness, the influence of college atheists, or a renunciation of their faith they are simply entering into a new phase of life. Churches who work with parents and young adults to have a plan for this new phase increase the chance of partnering with them in the future.
In the end it comes down to helping young adults grow into the next phase of their life. Having a plan, making them aware of the changes and, sometimes, let downs in life will help equip them for the reality ahead. There are no perfect churches or a perfect way to do church. As a local church, if we love people, are genuine in our approach and do not veer away from Scriptural integrity we establish ourselves as a trustworthy foundation to build upon. Establishing these expectations during the early age of development will teach our young people to look for these things in every local congregation they associate with in the future.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Serving the Savior,
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