Tom Gilson
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Leaving Home, Leaving the Faith


Series: Leaving Home, Leaving the Faith

Last time in this series we talked about one great way to help our children remain connected to life in Christ as they leave home: give them a multi-generational experience of that life as they’re growing up. Now for some discussion on why young people leave the faith.

Top-quality research indicates there is one great (?) way above all to discourage students from becoming Christ-followers as young adults. As part of the National Study on Youth and Religion, led by Christian Smith and Melanie Lundquist Denton, researchers spoke to teens all across the United States who had been raised in a religion but “became nonreligious.” They asked open-ended questions to discern why these teens had decided against religion. The list of answers (p. 89 here) is very instructive:

  • 32% — Intellectual skepticism and disbelief
  • 22% — Don’t know why
  • 13% — Lack of interest
  • 12% — Just stopped attending services
  • 10% — Life disruptions and troubles
  •  7% — Dislikes religion
  •  1% — Lacked parental support
  •  2% — Vague or no reason

I look at that list and I see only one, maybe two things that could genuinely be considered a reason: Intellectual skepticism and disbelief (along with life disruptions and troubles).

Young persons’ move away from church begins in their teen years, and for at least a third of them, it begins with not knowing any good reason to believe. As Frank Turek puts it concerning those who have left, “They’ve been talked out of it — you know why? Because they’ve never been talked into it!”

As we’ll see next Friday, though, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried. Yes, young people need to know reasons to believe. It may be the most important thing we can teach them. Simply to take that as a fact, though, and to go straight to a Sunday School lesson with it is to miss at least one other, related thing they desperately need.

More to come…

Series Navigation (Leaving Home, Leaving the Faith):<<< Leaving Home, Leaving the Faith: What About Your Children?

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