The One Thing the Conversation About Young Adults Leaving the Church Brings Out…

is the bias (or read that expertise and passion) of the person who is making their case:

The educator says we need more solid biblical teaching

The evangelist says we need to be doing more outreach and teaching them to be evangelistic.

Their parents will say they are just in rebellion.

The pastor will say we haven’t cared enough for them.

The counselor will say we haven’t met their felt needs

The culture guru points out that we don’t exegete our society very well, meet them where they are at, etc.

The worship leader will say we need new songs.

The preacher/communicator will say we need to be more relevant.

The legalist will have a checklist to hand them if they ever do return.

The guy in the pew might not even notice that they left.

There is one thing missing in all of this…what will they tell you if you actually ask them why they left? Do we even care enough to ask or do we just talk over and around them? Are we connected enough with them to feel like we have space to ask that question? There are many reasons people leave the church and our gut level, first reaction will say more about our own personal leanings than it will be an all-inclusive glimpse into why young people are leaving the church. That is called transference and it is good that we are aware of that tendency.


About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

10 Responses to The One Thing the Conversation About Young Adults Leaving the Church Brings Out…

  1. Cue the old Mark Twain quote

    “To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.”

  2. James T Wood says:

    I’m reading You Lost Me ( right now, which is a Barna book on this topic. It seems to do a pretty good job of representing the views of the people who’ve left.

    Also for Church of Christ specific answers I recommend Falling Away ( which is based on extensive research asking those who’ve left why they left.

  3. As a youth who left, I say we saw too much. Too much gossip, too many arguments about all of the above, too much pettiness, and not nearly enough Christ-likeness. That’s what I would say, if you asked.

  4. Noel says:

    Great post! This comes from “A New Kind of Christian” by Brian McLaren:

    “Our interpretations reveal less about God or the Bible than they do about ourselves. They reveal what we want to defend, what we want to attack, what we want to ignore, what we’re unwilling to question. When Judgment Day comes, God may ask a lot of us how we interpreted the Bible—not to judge if our interpretations are right or wrong but to let our interpretations reveal our hearts. That will be telling enough.”

  5. Pingback: Monday’s Links To Go | Tim Archer's Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts

  6. Jim says:

    At the end of the day, are the people in power in churches willing to let a younger generation being taking over responsibility? Is there fear that we won’t offer the same old worn-out answers that are causing our cohorts to leave? Also, if something does not work, change course and learn from it. Prejudice is resulting in too many of the younger generation not being allowed to participate or contribute advice. By that I mean that if it was tried and it did not work 30 years ago, it won’t work today. Times change, people change, and things just might work which didn’t in the past.

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