Six Reasons The Next Generation is Leaving The Church

So we’ve all seen the stats. It seems like the church is rapidly loosing influence with the next generation. Barna President David Kinnaman examines the 6 reasons in a new article in Christianity Today.

The six reasons he lists are…

1. Isolationism. One-fourth of 18- to 29-year-olds say church demonizes everything outside church, including the music, movies, culture, and technology that define their generation.

2. Shallowness. One-third call church boring, about one-fourth say faith is irrelevant and Bible teaching is unclear. One-fifth say God is absent from their church experience.

3. Anti-science. Up to one-third say the church is out of step on scientific developments and debate.

4. Sex. The church is perceived as simplistic and judgmental. For a fifth or more, a “just say no” philosophy is insufficient in a techno-porno world. Young Christian singles are as sexually active as their non-churched friends, and many say they feel judged.

5. Exclusivity. Three in 10 young people feel the church is too exclusive in this pluralistic and multi-cultural age. And the same number feel forced to choose between their faith and their friends.

6. Doubters. The church is not a safe place to express doubts say over one-third of young people, and one-fourth have serious doubts they’d like to discuss.

Your thoughts? Would you add any?

70 Responses to “Six Reasons The Next Generation is Leaving The Church”

  1. Luke W. says:

    Reading this definitely hits hard. I have started reading his book “You Lost Me.” And I think these things hit hard because we know we must address them, if we agree with what they are saying or not. I would probably fall into this group being a “Mosaic” or “Millenial” and so I completely feel what they are saying, we must address these issues that are keeping this generation, my generation and the one after me, from missing what it is all about.
    I believe as leaders in churches we must get to work on ministering to these generations that need to see and know truth and find faith in Jesus. As hard as these issues are to face, we must now ignore them.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. 1. Churches really should be ‘engaged’ (I don’t really like that term) with the culture. Christianity has always played a pivotal role in cultural developments. There is no excuse for it suddenly abdicating that responsibility.

    2. As Christians we must be clear about the truth. Such truth should never be boring… if it is we definitely aren’t teaching it right. It is life changing!

    3. I see this, too, and it is saddening. Science has its origins in Christianity and Christianity’s view of an orderly universe created by an orderly God. There is no excuse for this in the church. We need to change this!

    4. The approach in teaching about abstinence and the purpose of sex may be insufficient, but I think youth in our culture are simply bombarded with garbage and don’t like being told to avoid the pleasure. As someone just coming out of the ‘youth’ age demographic, I think this is something the church could do better in its approach, but the message must stand, regardless of whether young people like it or not.

    5. Again, this one is something the church might be able to do better, but the fact that youth are culturally conditioned against it only means it needs to be clarified. The message must stand, even if it bothers people. Sacrificing the message may be tempting, but it would make Christianity an irrelevant lie.

    6. Honest doubt should be something encouraged, not discouraged. In my own life, I would be struggling day to day with my faith like I was in high school if not for people letting me have doubt and talking to me about it respectfully and lovingly. If churches don’t accept this, I don’t know that they are conveying Christ’s love very well.

  3. Nigel says:

    I think that while alot of people in my generation might not like what they see from the religious community, they won’t just ‘give up’ on God. Like everything else, it will evolve. When you look at the membership decline in ‘traditional’ churches (ie Catholicism, Lutheranism, etc) and the membership increases in more ‘community’ type churches, you can see that religion and the idea of attending church has been changing over the past few years.

    I think that while we’re looking to find a spiritual journey different from our parents or older generations, we’re not going to completely absolve ourselves from God. Our relationship with Him is just going to be different.

  4. Holly says:

    personally, the thing that is hardest about church for me is that it is not the most comfortable place for single people. unless you happen to find a church that is very in tune with that. but i also don’t want to feel like i am going to a meat market because there are so many single people. the church feels about families…and not just the church family. but blood families. i have not left the church. i am still engaged. but it makes it harder to want to be engaged at times.

  5. Thanks for posting this Pete. I’m focused on #6. If we can honestly speak and let the young speak up about the doubts (especially regarding points 1-5) then I expect 1-5 will naturally be handled.

    In fact the focus for my radio show is how the doctrines (and principles) of the Bible solve today’s problems – human problems.

  6. Cindy says:

    I read this & look at the difference between then & now. I’m not sayin’ how far between the ‘then & now’, you’ll notice! ;) My husband & I have been talking about this, and honestly, it seems to come to foundation. I look at my heritage: the teaching, the love, the building into my life by the different people in the multi-generational church I grew up in. My biggest memories are the love & the ‘freshie’ they served in equal portions! :) I grew up with Sunday School & VBS – not the fancy stuff, but done by the seniors who faithfully taught us from the Scripture. It wasn’t entertainment so much as teaching. Challenging. Thoughtful. And I know darn well that they were praying for me so very often for many many years. And when I walked away from the Lord for a few years, not only were those people praying for me, they LOVED me. And it was that love & acceptance that brought me back and gave me the courage to seek God again. When I experienced the heartache & rejection that comes with a broken engagement, those people felt the anger, pain, and heartache right along with me. Not everyone is blessed with this heritage, I know. But, because of it, I know differently & am responsible. To keep learning. Know what is the truth & teach it. Be aware of what the kids are facing – I can’t afford to bury my head. Work in the kids/youth ministries, to help lay the foundation (like I received) for the kids/teens/young adults in my church. There is no easy answer – all I know is that I can’t point fingers at the rest of the body, but have to be the change, or part of it, myself. It’s up to each of us to build into, teach & disciple in the ways God puts in front of us.

  7. Buddy Knight says:

    This is a great list, and unfortunately it is very accurate!

    #3 & #4 are two biggies.

    In the area of science, too much has been proclaimed by those IGNORANT of science, and who also don’t understand that there are many, MANY scientists and engineers who are faithful followers of Christ. I think we need better, more reasoned and informed discussion on the “hot topics between science and religion.

    Unmarried sexually active teens/young people SHOULD feel that their activities are sinful. They are. But, we need to do a better job of saying WHY and HOW they are sinful, not just “because it is!” We teach far more on tithing and stewardship in terms of theological principles and doctrines because we know that “just tithe and be a good steward” isn’t effective. Let’s deal with sexuality the same way.

    Just my $0.02 as I avoid admin stuff!

    Keep preaching it, Pete!
    Buddy

    In my ministry I refer to God as a design engineer, and the Bible as the operator’s manual. We are finding, more and more, through science, how His boundaries align with scientific matters. But, many in the Church see the debates as either/or, and not how science is explaining what God did.

    In the area of sex: Let’s face it, we didn’t study the systematic theology of marriage/sex in seminary, and therefore most pastors are not comfortable preaching/teaching on it. Plus, it is a land mine of a topic that can get you fired!

    We need to understand that sex is a common and important part of God’s design, and we need to teach the BIBLICAL boundaries and principals related to sexual purity, fidelity, and marital intimacy. This needs to start in the seminaries (train the trainers, etc.).

    Great

  8. Craig Dyson says:

    Great article and great responses from everyone. As a 33 year old Generation Xer, I can really see this happening in our church much like things such as legalism were running ramped in my church and many churches when I was a kid/youth. I thought Joshua’s thoughts on each one was really true and I don’t know where the balance is between dealing with these issues but also staying Christ centered. I agree that dealing with sex is something that the church can deal better with but the reality is that many people just don’t want to hear what the Bible says. How do you balance the idea of staying Christ focused and teaching truth when the majority of people don’t want to hear it? How do you balance that with trying to deal with these issue? For me, I am a church planter in Ethiopia so some of these things I am not dealing with here. There are many other issues but not necessarily these. We just don’t have the cultural pressure that is strong in America…The churches in America need to figure this out quick..

  9. liz says:

    Barna reports 3,500 people a day leave the church. I suspect that that includes more than just ‘the next generation’. Personally for my family & I, we would add a seventh reason – ‘Church is no longer a ‘safe place’. Spiritual abuse by a misuse of authority is the evangelical’s secret sin. But I suspect the right writers are going to begin to expose this very soon. Interestingly, the traditional, more liturgical churches are benefiting from the evangelicals loss. All the type of churches I heard growing up in the evangel. church didn’t really preach the gospel.Hmmmmm…..what’s going on?

    • Frank says:

      Certainly agree with the comment on churches ‘no longer being a safe place’ with the Spiritual and financial abuse by those who would be in authority. This is not only in the local churches, but on the air waves.

      I think it was recently that Pete stated that ‘Hurting leaders, hurt people’ it is all to true.

    • Pete Wilson says:

      Totally agree that some churches are not safe places but not sure we should go as far as saying “Church is no longer a ‘safe place’”

  10. Jennifer says:

    It seems to me that every one of these reasons fall under one universal category: Judgement.

    No one wants to be judged. In my experience with non-Christians (my friends included), the only message they get (or maybe just the only message they absorb) from Christians is that Christianity is nothing but a list of rules that have to be followed if you don’t want to get punished.

    • New York Mary says:

      No one likes “rules” much. But as we learn the reasons for them (our safety/well-being and that of others) and we grow in maturity, we begin to see that they are beneficial. Now, that being said … what I think really trips us up are rules that are made up by humans not God’s “rules”. God’s rules are evidence of His love. “Don’t ________ My daughter/My son. It will hurt you. I have better plans for you.” Human rules are meant to trap you in someone’s box. “Don’t drink/smoke/dress like that, etc. etc.”

      Teach and live the Word. Love. Don’t judge. Love. Be available. Love. Encourage. Love. Listen. Love. Reach out. Love. Include. Love. Smile. Love. Love. Love.

  11. Mari says:

    I completely agree with these reasons. As someone that has been saved since I was a young teen, but fell away from the Lord during college years, I will agree that the adaptability of the church to the needs, concerns and stressses of the 21st century young person is often not considered. It is often generally stated that young people are simply too sinful and self absorbed to love the Lord. However, it is important to bear in mind the role that the church can have in discussing real and critical issues such as being unequally yoked (relationships and friendships), sexuality, science and many other issues. Many churches are still set up as an authoritative parent, putting young people off with “No means No” and “Because I said so” responses to important questions. We need to invest in the true education of the word of God, its importance, relevance and ability to transform the life experiences of all people.

  12. Beth says:

    Ha! I have lots of thoughts about these summary points. Maybe I’ll save them for a rainy day. They are strong and well thought out arguments about an issue which is of concern to many young people themselves. I’m sure there’s a good deal of truth in them.

  13. ENP says:

    Just to clear up misinformation from a previous poster, the Catholic Church is not shrinking:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic_church_shows_robust_growth_in_u.s._membership_new_report_says/

    Catholic or Protestant, it is a shame to see anyone turn away from God. We must keep teaching the Truth and proclaiming the Gospel.

    Kyrie, eleison.

  14. Joe Pote says:

    I’m reading this post, nodding my head, realizing these are very real issues and concerns and wondering how best to address them.

    It occurs to me that most of these points can be boiled down to two fundamental issues: Ignorance and Insecurity.

    So many Christians, today, don’t really know what the Bible says…they just know what they’ve heard preached. As a result, many of us lack the deep fellowship with Christ that comes from many years of relying on Christ and searching His Word. We make incorrect assumptions based on what we’ve been told, then cling to those incorrect assumptions as though they were the very core gospel truths.

    This, in turn, leads to insecurity. A faith based more on performance and dogma than on understanding and relationship. Someone who has not personally wrestled with digging God’s truth from scripture often feels threatened when someone challenges their belief…because they don’t want to admit that they’re not sure, themselves, why they believe it. A friend recently used the term “bumper-sticker theology” to describe this situation.

    Most, if not all, of the issues you’ve listed could be attributed to one or both of these roots if Ignorance and Insecurity, within the church body.

  15. Jamie says:

    I can completely understand most of these comments, but I can’t help but think that some people are going to the “wrong” church. I love the church that I grew up in, (and my parents still attend)but knew without a doubt that I did not want to raise my children there. When we moved back to my hometown a couple of years ago, the first thing we did was start visiting other churches. The third church was the right fit and we love being involved there.

  16. Frank says:

    It is not only the 18-29 year old demographic, many of us in an older demographic, see some of the same issues. As I look at the list, it was the same list of things I had when I was younger and wanting to make a difference in the world.

    I have been on many volunteer projects with young’uns and find that they have the dreams to make a difference and perhaps the church is not answering that call… or not in a way they might recognize.

    When a church sends out a crew to help, be it locally or in disaster relief. Maybe they could not only ask the congregation, but also hit up some youth organizations out side their walls.

    Could you imagine of 20 young people, comprised of Christian and Atheist, whatever, working side by side to bring relief and help rebuild a community. Might breakdown some barriers.

  17. Sarah says:

    I am 23 years old and I believe these reasons are full of crap. No, I don’t speak for every christian church in America but I believe that the “excuses” above are because my generation doesn’t like that the church won’t accept their sin so they pass it off as judgmental. Jesus didn’t adapt to the sinners of His time nor should the modern day church adapt to those who feel that they aren’t up to times or accepting of their sexual habits. Yes, I think the church should work to be relevant to today’s culture but that doesn’t mean they need to accept all the sin that is going on to refrain from being “judgmental”. God wasn’t accepting of Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s why it burned to the ground. My generation needs to get beyond themselves and realize it’s not about being accepted or right with the times. The church is meant to support and show Christ. I think, overall, the church is doing a good job of this.

  18. Jeff says:

    It is not just the younger generation. I am 50 years old and I have left for similar reasons.

    • I read the excerpt from the article, had a rather strong reaction to it, and scrolled down to respond. Lo and behold, Sarah just about said it all for me: “Full of crap.” I congratulate her on being so perceptive at her age — and on having the courage to express her wisdom. For the older folks, are our memories really that short? Every “next generation” complains that the church isn’t relevant or is somehow judgmental (the latter often meaning it requires something of them they aren’t prepared to give).

  19. Sally says:

    That’s why it’s called the narrow path. And attempting to bend Christianity to the world won’t cut it. We’re supposed to bend ourselves to Christianity.

    People have the choice to accept God or not. In a perfect world, Christians would be modeling Christ so that zillions would want to become Christians too. But even if Christians are dweeb failures, people will always be without excuse if they reject Christ.

  20. Crystal-Lee H. says:

    When I read through this list, I see a lot of valid concerns. I also see dangerous leeway away from christian orthodoxy. My hope is that people wouldn’t run in the complete opposite direction {like we have done historically} and create a “church” of concerts, emotional highs, no biblical accountability, and a surrender to the modern culture for biblical interpretation rather than just for contextual outreach.

  21. Hilary says:

    Without going in to a lot of thought, my initial reaction to the Christianity Today article is “… but are they leaving the FAITH?!”

    The Church is not the institution we call “church” in America. I’d challenge that worldwide the next generation of believers is growing and going strong. And I’d challenge that in many cases it’s beneficial to “leave the church” as we have known it. Maybe nothing would benefit The Faith more than the absolution of American churchy-ness.

    It’s happened before…

  22. Sherie says:

    In my experience #2 is a key issue, but not exactly as it is written, “Shallowness. One-third call church boring, about one-fourth say faith is irrelevant and Bible teaching is unclear. One-fifth say God is absent from their church experience.”

    What I hear from a lot of those in the generations younger than mine is a disconnect between a church service and life. The teaching may be great, but they don’t know how to apply the teaching to change their lives. They come to church, sit and listen, and there is no connection to how they live it out in their moment by moment steps. These groups like to take action, to be involved, and yet church can seem like it is about come, sit, listen, and learn instead of be transformed, go, do, live, and proclaim.

    The sermon my say “Rejoice in the Lord always” but that doesn’t say how to do it when your life is filled with stress and chaos and you don’t feel like rejoicing. Most of us have only been taught how to live in our body and soul (mind, emotions, pysche, personality). We don’t know how to connect to and live in the spirit. It is our spirit that has been made new but the worship service just engaged our emotions through music and our psyche through teaching.

    • Mike in Milwaukee says:

      Sherie, For me, you’ve hit it. Luther said “rules without relationships breeds rebellion.”

      When we preach the “what” without the “so what” and the “now what”, listeners (of any age) can’t see what life in the spirit is supposed to look like.

      Most plants don’t grow well in the dark and neither do we. We well-grounded adults who can walk along side young people through their troubles and listen (when needed); guide with the Word and live out grace and forgiveness so those they are walking with can see what it looks like and feels like.

  23. Ally Garner says:

    When I was in my teens & early 20s I thought church was boring, out-dated & judgmental. What I was really feeling was that I wanted to live my life by my rules and not suffer any consequences. I wanted an a la carte God and didn’t like it when I was reminded that a relationship with God doesn’t work that way. While I agree with several complaints in the top 6 list, I also think high schoolers don’t always know what’s best for them. Should the church then water-down the message to suit them? No. Should we learn how to love bigger & communicate better? you betcha.

  24. Lindsey says:

    I have no doubt that the listed reasons are exactly why young Christians are leaving the church but maybe a more fundamental reason is a lack of understanding of what the Church is. At 31, these reasons are likely the same for members of my generation. We have decided that the church should compete with secular culture and meet our perceived needs or wants. The reasons sound the same as why we now have many more jobs…and spouses… than former generations. Yes, there are issues within the church that can and should be addressed but the purpose of church is to assemble to glorify God and magnify His beauty. At the heart of why people are really leaving the church is a self-centric desire to be cared for, entertained, not offended, not told what to do etc. There are certainly issues that churches need to address but maybe there needs to be more of a focus on the beauty of the Gospel and Christ in churches and less on the collective “us” in general.

  25. Ken Wilkinson says:

    I’m 65 yrs old and I agree with you. I’ve watched small “I don’t care” church’s basically stomp the today’s young people into the ground. Even elementry school kids are being stomped all over. It is such a shame. EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion. It’s when someone tries to stuff their opinion down my throat that I take a step back. And I know that is how today’s generation feels. Teach me who God is and how he can be part of my life today. Not how “you” think I should live. Show me your love. Not your hate and distrust. I have felt this way my entire adult life. Please gang, don’t turn your back on God just because of some self centered idiot brow beats you. Be strong and love God the best way you can. Don’t ever forget, your life is between you & God. Not you, a bunch of other people, and God. God has ALWAYS been one on one. :)

  26. jon says:

    Studies show that once students get married and finish college most come back to church. Many students also get away from mom and dad and church influence and are on their on for the first time and live immoral lives, as well. That never makes the study for some reason?

  27. Marcie Matthews says:

    I find it strange that my generation didn’t feel the need to be coddled and “entertained” while attending church. My grandfather was a minister and I grew up in the church….every Sunday, Wednesday & VBS. Things were a lot stricter then and amazingly enough, I continue to love my church and attend every Sunday. These kids are spoiled rotten and need to learn their bible. God hasn’t changed; they have!

  28. Sarah Mac says:

    My response is more to some of the comments. I didn’t truly turn to Christ until a few months ago. I didn’t really grow up in the church nor did I know much about christianity until a few months ago. I am 27 now and the reason I’d say it took so long was because of some of the reasons listed above, that and several sad memories of people telling me I we going to hell if I didn’t….. And whatever came after that was hardly ever about Christ.

    And I agree, the faith does not need to change its standpoint on topics (definitely not!) but perhaps change its approach to ppl dealing with these things. Christianity is about a transformation. It’s no t for the doctors but for the sick. If we go around condemning everyone because they ________, then we will continue to lose a lot of people. It’s not about being perfect, but loving and trusting God. It’s like Pete said in one of his sermons about in the youth group, they had been praying for a particular group of kids to start attending, finally they did but before they could even get to their seat, a leader in the church walked up to them and basically fussed at them for what they were wearing….so what did those kids do? They turned around and walked out. We need the broken to know they can come to church, to Christ and He will transform them and use their brokenness. And for me personally, coming to Christ and knowing what He did for me (yes, me!) has made me WANT to turn from the sinful things I was doing.

    We- as a church- dont want to come across as unaccepting and condemning, because who would openly willingly hang out with pplmthat don’t accept them. no one. ….stepping off my soap box now, haha ;)

  29. Beth says:

    Here’s an idea to help younger generations in the Church. I feel qualified to give an opinion as until a month ago I was amongst them.

    I’m currently in the second week of Rick Warren’s Saddleback campaign, “40 Days In The Word,” (great video about ants b.t.w).
    Yesterday our Bible study met, worked through our set text.

    Many fresh ideas were thrown up by our group members. Everyone bought something to the table as we reconstructed the story.

    Jesus’ miracle from Mark 2.

    Jesus is in town and draws a large crowd. The house in which he is speaking is packed out and people spill out of the building into the community.

    A man who is paralyzed can’t get close because of the crowd. So his friends make a hole in the roof and lower him down on a mat into the room.

    Jesus forgives the disabled man’s sin. The religious elite harbor evil thoughts. He heals the man from his crippling injury and everyone is happy. Except for the Pharisees.

    And me.

    I just couldn’t get over why a gang would put a hole in the roof. I went through all the explanations I could think of. Why would someone do this? I prepped with the sadly, puritanical ESV. But my point is, sometimes faith is like that. Being almost intangible, and a form of representation, it can lack clarity.

    Last night I decided to beat my brain by taking a systemic approach. I opened a notebook, found my online reading for the day in the NIV, and drew a small circle in the middle of the page to represent the story.

    Then I drew a series of arrows to and from the circle to represent inputs and outputs. I labeled each pointer with a part from the text, so working consecutively, using words as they appeared in sequence, the whole text was soon filled in onto this circular “grid.”

    Once I had my directional arrows in place, I used them to map a series of cause and effect style observations, referencing my diagram as a prompt. The story was Mark 4:35-41, Jesus calms the storm.

    I found examples such as: The wind died down > the other boats were also safe; Jesus sleeps without helping > crisis in disciples relationship with him; let’s go to the other side > Jesus asked to go; disciples focused on themselves > they weren’t worried about other boats. I went round the circle till almost every statement was linked with at least one other. I had a range of thoughts and opinions about what might be the purpose of the details in the story.

    Only after doing this could I imagine myself in the role of one of the characters in the story.

    Once I had taken on the role play, using my table and diagram, I could see other motivations and unintended consequences in the “plot”.

    I could approach the story from another perspective.

    A perspective not my own. A perspective unlike mine: “Saddleback’s Picture it!” method of study for week 2.

    Finally, I found some conclusions my tiny mind could live with.

    Were the disciples were looking for a heroic model? Did this departure – a passive Jesus – made them feel afraid? Perhaps they were fearful about health and safety? What if He had been inadvertently injured?

    I could also see some unintended consequences of the dialogue and action, which in straight narrative often confuses me, and induces panic, because the relational issues are often not resolved:

    The disciples look foolish and muddleheaded. Jesus’ lack of help and support causes them to doubt and fear. They have a growing – and perhaps awkward – dependence on Jesus as a leader/friend/?.

    Jesus response to this is to further challenge them. The unintended consequence is they become more afraid.

    There is no way I could have teased out these meanings without doing the diagrams first.

    Young people are not necessarily very good at making secondary or tertiary meanings from texts; be they religious scriptures, mtv videos, architectural buildings, pop songs, whatever.

    They don’t like being counter cultural because it has a very limited benefit. As adults many of us learn these skills, as we study for example, depending on what we study, or when we have children.

    My life experiences happen to have been very limited lately and I’m not used to using employing the talents I have developed up to a certain point. But in many ways it has not been beneficial to me to use them in my context and this attitude has also come into play.

    An unintended consequence is they might produce anger, for example.

    We all, adults and young people included, have a tendency to normalize our thinking, hoping it will help us to agree. It’s the way society works!

    I would argue that young people are forced, or subject to heavy coercion, to do this all the time. To fit in with varied groups of people at school, in the workplace and other more socially beneficial contexts. To fit in at Church.

    They read culture differently because of inexperience and aspiration to be like others. They don’t have a lot of power and are naturally interconnected with others both in terms of social and family groups. They probably don’t power share equally with other leaders or families at Church.

    Learning to find “other” meanings in culture is a skill. Some adults never wish to develop it. But it is difficult to make a way through education and early relationships in our culture without being able to step outside of a dominant reading and find something “other” to engage with, if we are to keep our faith intact.

    What is the Bible?

    In terms of Christianity, The Bible IS culture.

    It is a mass media product.

    I’d argue we need to take the moral OUT of the story to get the under 30′s back IN to church.

    We need to learn how to apply multiple meanings simultaneously to our texts and let them interact with other texts our young people may encounter.

    Young people themselves must learn to navigate the moral maze with which they are faced, in and out of church contexts.

    We need a return to storytelling. Perhaps to postpone expository preaching until a relevant Biblical culture has had the opportunity to influence the development of our young peoples’ brains, and a religious system is more firmly in place.

  30. Justin says:

    I am 21 years old, and I have experienced every single one of these things before. I would also like to add that a lot of us have jobs or other obligations that require us to skip some or many Sunday morning services. I feel like the church judges those of us with jobs, simply because we’re working instead of going to church, when the vast majority of jobs obtained by students absolutely require weekends. I have had a job requiring weekend work since I was 16. I feel that the church judges without even bothering to consider our circumstances.

  31. Unsaved sinners (and unsaved churchgoers, as well) will always question God’s morals and commandments. Always. They always have and they always will. It is wrong to alter the biblical standards that God instituted.

    Certainly, let’s do everything we can to love and evangelize them, but if they leave–they leave. We need to remain pure and when God leads them to the place of searching for Him, we’ll still be here as we always have.

  32. courtney says:

    i think these reasons, excuses, whatever you may call them, are to be taken serious. it’s not necessarily that individuals in the church are to blame but how the church as a whole reacts. instead of love and acceptance no matter who they are or what they are doing, they meet resistance and judgement. personally, i have been there. and until i could have open honest dialogue about my own faith or lack there of in a safe environment, i couldn’t feel comfortable in church. so maybe instead of blaming and calling these excuses, we as a church open up and say “hey i know what you are saying.”

  33. Craig says:

    Scary how youth are headed out, instead of in…

    I came to your blog from the church relevant site top 200 list. They have created a tremendous forum for finding new blogs that impact people.

    I hope my blog can be an encouragement to you also.

    I write it for encouragement and motivation daily.

    http://i-never-fail.blogspot.com

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to watching the connections grow!

  34. jason says:

    The lack of knowing God, and by being distracted by a church instead of being a gathering of the Church, for His Glory.

    Lack of understanding of why we love God.

    “For they know not what they do.”

  35. RBlaine says:

    I usually do not comment on things because I find comment sections get away from commenting on the article, however when I saw this in my Google Reader feed, I had to respond.

    While most of my friends are young Gen Xers, I am technically a Millenial (I hate that term).

    I moved 4 months ago and have not found a church because of the opposite of what this says. I am still checking out churches and know that God has a place for me to serve Him.

    As a single male, I find women in the church find me too close-minded and after reading my thoughts you may see things their way.

    Here is my take on the 6.

    1) I find churches, especially those with Gen X and Millenial making up most of their congregations, swing the gate way too open on this one. They take popular culture and put it in the church. I do not want references to rappers who use explicit lyrics. I do not want a pastor to reference “The Hangover”.

    2) I see this in some churches, however not most. Even in a small town of 1000 people there are at least 3 or 4 churches. If you want to find a church that has depth you can find it. It is out there you just have to find it.

    3) I do not find a lot of churches anti-science. I know a ton of churches that do Bible studies and sermon series based on or similar to “Answers in Genesis”.

    4) I am a pariah in most churches among singles because I believe that sex is between a man and his wife. And the woman that I marry has to have that same stance. Our churches have become too inclusive for condoning this behavior. If it is part of your past, then there is no judgement there. However, if you call yourself a Christian and are out getting drunk, high, and/or sleeping around then… you need to evaluate where you are at with God.

    5) Last time I checked the Bible says that no one comes to The Father EXCEPT through The Son. You cannot call yourself a Christian unless you believe that Christ is the only way.

    6) This maybe the only real issue that I see with the church. While I did not work in formal youth ministry, I did have a lot of youth talk with me about their doubt because they did not “feel” that someone in formal authority would listen. They were wrong, however the pastors could have done a better job letting them know that doubt is normal.

    • Michael E says:

      agreed! Well put RBlaine. you said much better what I was trying to say in my post below. Call me conservative, but I think that often times the more modern churches are a tad too ruled by pop-culture. Why should I reference the Hangover to my youth students if I disagree with drunkenness, so they think I’m cool? I’d much rather show them that I can still be a cool fun-loving guy without having to pollute my brain.

      Christ came to love all, and I agree that the church (as a whole) needs some changes to be more accepting and loving as Christ. However Christ didn’t become a drunk to reach the drunk, he didn’t become a prostitute to love the prostitutes, he didn’t become a sinner to love sinners.

  36. [...] Six Reasons The Next Generation is Leaving the Church, by Pete Wilson.  A quick hitting summary of why the millennial generation is done with the church. [...]

  37. keith says:

    The church of today tries to be the spiritual Walmart. We have everything you need here. The church will never reach everyone….that’s why God created a heaven and a hell.

  38. Marty says:

    Honestly, I got really turned off to church as a young adult because I really felt that I was marginalized in the church’s view because I was single. It was almost like there was something wrong with me. I finally got irritated defending myself and just quit going.

  39. Michael E says:

    I appreciate this post. It is an eye-opener for all in the church, especially those in ministry, like me.

    And I look at this list, and I definitely see the valid points and the improvements that could be made on the church as a whole. i.e. the church coming across as judgmental and closed to science and doubters, etc.

    But there’s also a part of me that wonders how much of the church we can change based upon these facts. Attitudes and actions in the church (as a whole) could definitely change. the way things are presented inside and outside the church could definitely use some change. But do we change our moral stance in order to get a few new-comers to church. Do we accept the vulgarity in pop-culture so that we don’t look judgmental, or do we find ways to better express our stance against the sin that is present in pop-culture so as to not sound “closed-minded”? Do we accept open sexuality because that’s just what people do today, or do we find ways to better express the need to remain sexually pure before marriage?

    Sometimes I think we let pop-culture dominate the flow of the church rather than letting Christ dominate the flow of the church. I do think that changes need to be made to the general church that I believe Christ would want us to make, but I also believe that some go to the extreme in order to please “outsiders” that Christ would detest.

    Just some thoughts…

  40. Ken Rosentrater says:

    These things ring true. I think a couple of these need clarifying response:

    #4. We certainly can be simplistic and judgmental, and that’s not good. However, the “feeling judged” about committing fornication is probably their own conscience and the Holy Spirit convicting them. God Himself has judged that activity as sin. I don’t need to add my judgement; He has made it plain. Too many people regardless of age want to rationalize sin and blame others if they feel badly about it.

    #5. The point is made, and that aspect of the modern church bothers me too, at least the exclusive attitude. Yet, the Church is a very exclusive community! In the Book of Acts we are told that people were afraid to join the believers! And, sometimes you truly need to choose between your faith and your friends. Is God first or not? If “friends” are pulling you away, yes, you must choose,

  41. George says:

    This is so true, and to further add to this whole hypothesis (reality is more like it) this is the indication that this is the generation that will most likely be ripe for the Antichrist; I have no doubt we are in the end times; the last “of” the last days to be exact. There are just way too many occurances to plainly point this out.

    People/kids between the ages of 15 all the way to about 35( and some older as well) are so morally bankrupt that they don’t even think anything of sex before marriage, living together before marriage, having kids out of wedlock, crossing cultural boundries to satisfy their twisted lust, and many don’t even attend church.

    Hollywood movies, television, video games, liberal universities, and the media consisting of magazines, newspapers, books, and of course the internet are to blame; this should not come as a surprise to any “real” Christian that this is happening because it was foretold in the Holy Word of God, The Bible.

    Lastly, even though the Mayans, Chinese( I Ching), Hopi Indians and Hindus were not Christians, they all point to this general time period of 2012 as “game changer” for the world physically and spiritually as well; and for this I am impressed as there is more than enough evidence that they are correct. But the Lord Jesus Christ has told us as Christians these things would happen long ago as well, but way too many so called Christians are too busy being sucked up by the world and it’s getting more difficult to avoid everyday; especially if you are single.

    Be ready at all times to meet Jesus as he could come anytime now. I don’t like to put dates on anything as they are often incorrect as you all may know, but I can say this and be about 95% sure, that Revelation will play out in it’s entirety by 2100 at least. Look at how life is for us and the planet now; imagine 78 years from now!

  42. PJ says:

    Ok so here is a list of why, but give me a list of what we need to do about it. Come on, we know the reasons, we need solutions and practical teaching. Seriously I’m not being critical, but we need solutions.

  43. Snailspace says:

    The American church already expends a lot of time and money these days trying to keep or attract anyone under the age of 25.

    The problem is that most churches ignore anyone over 25 / 30 years of age who has never married or had kids. On those few occasions older, never married singles are addressed, it’s to chastise us for never having married (even if we are not at fault), to paint us as being immature or weird, or we get the standard “fornication is sinful” speeches (which can be annoying, discouraging, and offensive for those of us who have remained virgins past 40 years of age).

    Churches are particularly bad about not meeting the needs of older (over age 30) never married females – they simply continue to assume that all women past 25 are married with kids, and will assign all women to matron-like duties (such as serving in a church nursery), even though some women are not comfortable around kids.

    We older never married ladies also get bombarded with regular comments from pastors and Christian authors and talking heads that being a wife and mother is our highest calling (this teaching is not in the Bible, if I recall correctly, so I don’t know why they continue to harp on this). As someone who has never been a wife or mother, I find that outlook that my only value is in being married or having a kid deeply insulting.

    Some of you may want to get a copy of the book “Qutting Church” by author Julia Duin. She has a chapter in that book discussing the discrimination, exploitation, and negative stereotypes older singles face in churches, which is one reason why many unmarried over 30 have stopped attending.

    Amazingly, rather than accommodate church services and programs to make unmarried people feel more welcome, some blockheads in Christendom say even more emphasis should be placed on marriage (that there should be even more marriage and parenting sermons), etc, even though many singles say it is this very emphasis which they find alienating, and which causes them to stop attending.

    Alienating singles from church and making them feel excluded is not the way to get more Christians married to each other, which is said to be the goal of the “let’s- have- even- more- marriage- sermons” advocates.

    There is just way too much obsession in most churches with the 1950s nuclear family television model. They refuse to face that people these days are marrying later, if at all (and many Christians are not having children), and won’t meet people where they are.

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