Hot Topic of the Week – Why are Young Adults Leaving the Church?
August 3, 2013 15 Comments
This topic has been brought up for every generation of young adults since after the Vietnam War. It has received a lot of attention over the last several years especially and has been something I have spent a good deal of time writing about, speaking about and actually ministering to people from this “missing generation”. So this is of great interest to me and I know it is of great interest to many of you who read this blog. I want to point you to a couple of key reads that have come out recently so that you can enjoy some of the great conversations that are going on out there and also point you to a few of my own past posts on this topic:
A few recent posts you should read on the subject:
- Scot McKnight’s post Millennials are Leaving Church: really? is a brief review of Brad Wright’s Book “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media.” which takes the record for world’s 10th longest book title and also challenges the idea that young people are actually leaving church at a faster rate than any other age group. Richard Beck of ACU posts in the comments and is cited in the book. If you don’t read Scot or Richard you should.
- Rachel Evan’s post Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church where Evans talks about what young people are really after. They want substance. They don’t want the old stuff spiffed up to seem knew and hip. They want roots. They want deep meaning. They want relevance and community and belonging. Getting below the surface is vital and sadly few churches know how to do that well, especially with a generation they just don’t understand.
- Richard Beck’s response to Rachel Evan’s post What Does Rachel Evans Want? is a very thoughtful post about a generation that desperately wants to be heard and the struggle of staying with a faith tradition that you think needs to change or jumping ship to another tradition and leaving your roots behind.
Note to Church leaders
You have to figure this one out. Forget everything you learned in seminary about how to do ministry. Forget everything you ever heard about what makes good worship. Forget everything those old books say about how to create community. Stop studying. Stop looking for the next quick fix. Stop scouring the web for the next ministry that is sure to get them in the door.
Instead, here is what you do…
- Pray for them daily
- Pick out a few young adults and actually get to know them outside of worship times
- Ask them questions
- Care about their answers
- Ask about their friends…and meet their friends (then do steps 1-4 for their friends too)
- Take what you learn from them and make that your textbook…let that shape your approach
- Involve them in leading the church in what comes next. Give them a seat at the table. We wait until people are 60 to put them in “leadership” positions and fail to develop new people while still in their 20s & 30s.
You aren’t going to like or agree with everything you hear them say. Get over it. The church will die because we were too proud to listen to them.
Here are some of my previous posts on why this group is leaving:
- The One Thing the Conversation About Young Adults Leaving the Church Brings Out…
- 1 Corinthians 13 Young Adult Remix
- Marc5solas Take on Why 20 Somethings are Leaving the Church
- Why are young adults leaving church: a comprehensive answer
- The Biggest Issues Being Discussed in Christianity Are All Connected
- Cultural Insights Gleaned from the Recent Discussion Over Harding’s New President
- James McCarty’s Thoughts on Why Young People Are Leaving Churches of Christ
- How to Reach a Lost Generation Series (8 part series)