Why Do So Many Young People Leave Christianity?
When I was a teenager, the church was constantly reminding us that a lot of young people abandon their faith as they grow up.
Stats were thrown around. "3 in 4 Christian teenagers lose their faith in college". Those weren't the actual stats, but you get the idea.
It's crazy to think about this now that I'm looking back on it. Why would you want to tell your young people that they'd probably end up leaving the religion they were currently in?
It came true too. A lot of my peers did seem to drop off the face of the earth when we left for college.
I can't help but wonder if it was a self fulfilling prophecy. If you're telling young people that the odds are against them, then it makes them wonder why.
Why do so many young people lose their faith?
The church said it happened because of drugs, alcohol, and sex, but I don't think that's the real problem.
I have a couple theories.
Narrow Road / Narrow Mind
First, I can't help but wonder if they leave because the church taught them to have a narrow mind. And that their faith depended upon having a narrow mindset.
But, you don't have to have a narrow mind to go on the narrow road. (very punny, I know)
When you get to college, you're expected to open up and learn. You're expected to widen your horizon. And that's a great thing, but our churches aren't preparing young people for this.
They're teaching young people that their faith is hanging on by a thread. That they have to defend it.
They're teaching our kids that things like evolution will destroy their faith. When, in reality, this doesn't have to happen. You can actually believe in evolution and God and still be a Christian.
I would know, because that's me right now.
Our churches need to start teaching diversity. God created an amazingly diverse world, but yet we're narrowing it down tremendously.
When young people get to college, they realize that the world is complicated. Their religion is complicated. And they get culture shock from all of this information.
The faith they grew up with stops working because it wasn't big enough.
Some "fall away". Others live in denial because they think that's the only way to stay a Christian. And then others learn that Christianity is a lot bigger than they thought, and it has room for them along with their doubts.
Owning Your Faith
The second reason I think young people leave Christianity is because they try to own someone else's faith and then give up when it inevitably doesn't work.
What do I mean by this?
Well, we encourage our young people to go deeper. We push them to own their faith and develop deep convictions. Except, quite often, they'll come to different conclusions than we did.
And we don't like that. We only want them to own their faith so long as it's our faith.
But that's silly cause you can't own something that's not yours.
Some young people will try though, but it just doesn't work. And, instead of realizing they need to find faith for themselves, they'll drop Christianity all together.
One of the reasons why many Millenials left Christianity is because they tried to own someone else's faith & gave up when it didn't work.
There will always be these people, but I truly believe we can have less young people leaving Christianity if we'll give them room to breath. Instead of spoon feeding them every doctrine and theological concept, we need to let them figure out some stuff for themselves.
Thats hard though because we have to take a step back and realize we can't control them.
I'm not saying we shouldn't tell them what we believe. We must do this. But, at the same time, we have to remember that faith is a journey.
We're further along in the journey than they are right now. They still have a lot of exploring and questioning and thinking to do.
So, what I'm trying to say is this:
Teach them *the* narrow way, but do it in a way that isn't narrow.
Also, don't get mad at them when they come to some different conclusions. That's going to happen no matter what you do. You can focus on this reality or you can focus on the fact that they are still on the journey of faith.
And that's an amazing thing.
Why do you think young people leave their faith? This post just talked about a few things that are going through my mind currently. Share your opinion with me in the comments.