Why Young Adults May Leave the Church

Subject: Religion
Pages: 7
Words: 2092
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD

In most of the church populations, the number of youths compared to older people is lower. It is the case in most of the Baptist, evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Hence this paper focuses on analyzing why the youth may leave the church and the methods other churches have taken to maintain and attract more young people. Various questions such as, are the youth given roles in the church that makes them relevant, are they feel loved, do their views and opinions matter to the church leadership, and lastly, does the church have an impact on the youths outside the church.

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Most mainstream churches such as Baptist, evangelical, and Pentecostal have set rules and traditions. Order and hierarchy in rank are what defines the system and nature of leadership, and this at times may be the reason as to why youths feel left out and end up leaving the church (Dudley, 2000). Also, the churches stick to the traditions that were set and are passed on from one office to the other, and this triggers the question, how relevant are those traditions and norms in retaining and attracting more youths to church? Hence compared to previous years, the number of youths declining from the church has significantly decreased.

The term leaving the church is an act of the youth going away and showing disinterest in religious matters. The millennials or the youths are more anti-institutional compared to previous generations that highly regarded church institutions. Besides their views towards the church, they focus on too many rules, are concerned with money and power, and are involved with political matters. On the brighter side, the church is concerned with helping the poor and needy, promote and strengthen morality, and bringing people together by supporting community needs (Dudley, 2000). A recent study by the Lifeway research survey shows how the youth gave for leaving the church (Christianity Today). Most of the youths do not agree with religion and not do not find it necessary to attend church. These top five reasons are the findings of their attitude.

Youths aged between 23-30 report by lifeway research.

Reason for leaving church percentage
I moved to college 34%
Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical 32%
Lose of connection with church members 29%
Disagreements with church’s political stance 25%
Work/responsibilities 24%

Other reasons that were provided include disconnect with spiritual life, lack of youth opportunities in ministry, and hypocritical members. These reasons provided show that the youths lack a personal touch with the church and end up feeling unloved and misunderstood (Christianity Today). Nonetheless, the number of kids leaving the church has not affected the number of going church members as many still go to church as it is an essential fundamental of their lives (Clinebell & McKeever, 2011). A similar report, too, conducted by Pew Research Centre shows that several millennials that left the church are atheists making up 12% (Puffer, 2017) of the unaffiliated to the religious institution.

At times Christianity can be a controversial field between the young ones and the old ones, a situation that the generation gap cannot address relatively new approaches to the style of leadership and communication (Foster, 1873). Baptist, evangelical, and Pentecostal prefer to stick to the old ways which could not work for the youths. For example, excommunicating one of the members that have been involved in a crime that is against the church or the commandments could scare away the youths. The youths are at a place in their lives where they are learning to make sound decisions, and at times their decisions go against the church laws.

Nonetheless, a church by the name Metro church of God’s Indian church has a different report than the statistics and reports that show the youths having left church. The leadership of the Indian church of God interacts with the younger people, which provides an opportunity to relate with them and expand other areas of their lives (Michna 2020). From a case study that was performed, the senior pastor’s role can be determined by evaluating and identifying specific research boundaries that provide contextual information (Creswell and Poth 2018). Engaging young adults is essential as it contributes to the process of congregation expansion.

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The following steps taken by the church to maintain their youths defines how and what the pastoral office has emphasized. Since an early age, the church members are engaged in theological learning, with much attention being put on cultural endowment (Samuel 2018). The youth are motivated by the acts of service to God, which propels their interest in the church. The expansion of the target audience is done by organizing workshops and seminars by the senior pastor. This creates a connection with the youth through communication and personal relations, which are potent methods Jung 2019).

In every institution, the leadership provided dictates how most of the activities will be run (Roberts & Weaver, 1994). Similarly, the church leadership at the metro church is one that is anchored on the philosophy that says, “We won’t be able to please everyone but love Gods people.” The philosophy helps them to love everyone equally and unconditionally, whether they are old or young. Thus, when Pastor otter started pastoring the church, they created a ministry that was called impact. The main focus of the ministry was high school and college students. The ministry birthed some of the church leaders, and their mentorship became great.

The church has chosen to focus on acts that will keep the youths and attract others to it. The young adults have felt love, acceptance and earned trust from the pastor and confidentiality. Compared to what is happening outside the church, the youths desire an interpersonal relationship with the church leadership, and this has been provided by Metro Church. An example is Erick, who says that the church accepts him for who he is, not for his talent and skill. He further states that the church had given him courage and peace, things he had not experienced in the former years before he joined the church.

About feelings of being accepted, the church is a family and teaches one how to care for and nurture others (Yust, Johnson & Sasso 2006). It is the case for Shawn, who has been a member for eight years. To him, what struck the most was how the other members would reach out to him just to check on him and know how his spiritual life was. These created a bond and made him feel part of them as they desired to see him grow in spiritual matters. Besides, Shawn relates with his pastor not only as his father but as a friend. His way of leadership allows them to be vulnerable and speak openly without feelings of being judged.

Also, the metro church has taught its members to develop a relationship with God rather than dictate how they ought to live as per religion. Worshipping to them is a time for loving God and being lost in his moment. Erick, who is also a worship leader in the church, states that no matter how bad his week has been, that does not affect how he hears from God. Hence it is easy to advise the youths to develop an intimate relationship with God because they get to know and hear God for themselves.

The church is supposed to be home for everyone, and they should partake in roles that they freely want to (Atkerson, 2008). In most churches, duties allocation to some people, and some cases, you can find one person running the show. Unfortunately, at Metro church, the scenario is different as the activities are for specific persons, but it’s a community that partakes in all the roles. For example, the older ones don’t try to hog the stage but rather allocate the functions to the younger people. In the church, the young people are commonly found serving in various departments, such as the photography and worship team.

Every community has individuals, and that are vulnerable and needy, and they need help from the city (Lively, Roberts & Weaver, 1994). In most cases, churches always step up on the role and offer a hand of compassion to them. Similar to the other churches, Metro church helps the rest of the Indian community around them. What that they do differently is that they let the youth be more involved and in charge of the activity. The responsible traits teach them to take care of others and their families. Erick, a member of the church, says how participating in the charity events of cooking and cleaning made him replicate that at home and helped when the mum was sick.

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From the above few examples, Metro church has become home for many youths despite the environmental background of the Indie community and loved them genuinely. If the Baptist, evangelical, and Pentecostal have lacked them, the young adults can quickly leave the church. Compared to the Metro church, the senior pastor can invite the youth over at McDonald’s and just have a conversation with them. It is unlikely to see a leader from other churches doing so because most of the churches have not embraced it.

What then makes the youth part of the church (Nelson, 2000)? Is it leadership roles, is it giving them advice or judging them. From the case of the metro church, it is evident that there are things that they have done that have helped them retain the youths in their church. Firstly, it is by loving them genuinely, just like Christ loves the church. Besides, they have made loving others a philosophy. Secondly, the church has allowed the youth to take part in leadership roles under the mentorship of their senior pastors (Bonem & Patterson, 2012). Lastly, they have created a transparent environment that would enable the kids to be open about their weaknesses and are encouraged to work more on their spiritual relationship rather than condemning themselves.

However, the church cannot entirely be blamed for being why some of the youths are leaving the church (Smith & Walton, 1896). The church cannot be the same as with the people of the world. For example, in matters with LGBTQ, most churches do not agree with them as they are not in support of them. Therefore, youths that identify with the LGBTQ community should not force the church that has been running on belief systems that have been the foundation. Others, too, demand the right to be treated equally by the church, but it is not their place to make such demands.

On matters regarding political stance, the church has a voice, and their opinion matters (Bonem & Patterson, 2012). Whatever the church’s politics, it should not make one leave the church or seclude themselves from it. Similarly, the church should not overly emphasize their political side, but do it once, give their reasons, and focus on the body of Christ. Hence, political indifference should not contribute to one leaving the church (Duncan & Jones 2008).

Church leaders should adopt ways to retain and attract young adults to their churches (Bureau of the Census, 1910). Their leadership and philosophies should be what governs and drives the unity of the church. Baptist, evangelical, and Pentecostal rarely have perspectives that are fundamental to them. Instead, they are focused on receiving the holy spirit and professing Jesus Christ as Lord and personal savior (Jefferies, 2005). The professions are not wrong; if passed to one generation without much explanation and theological backup, they end up being mere traditions and utterances.

What the youth need is not to be caged in systems and traditions that they do not understand but instead break down the habits to understand love on them and accept them. Similarly, the youth should not take advantage of and disregard the church’s advice to draw attention to be received (Modern Church, 1892; Vukich & Vandegriff, 2008). Each of the two groups should understand generational gaps, and their differences should not stir up personal differences.

Conclusively, both the young and the old are members of the body of Christ; each should strive to see that each member growing spiritually. In the future, the Baptist, evangelical and Pentecostal churches should strive for methods that bring the youth closer to the church and retains them as they grow spiritually. Similarly, their leadership should encourage them to stay in the church and one that emulates Christ. The youth should also stay in church not please anybody or be part of a statistic but rather for their own good.

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