David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me, makes several great observations about why young people give up their faith after leaving high school. He found that 59% of young people with a religious background dropped out of their church after attending regularly. One of the most helpful features of You Lost Me was the six top reasons why students give up on God:
- Overprotective: Young people have been so overprotected by our “helicopter” culture, that many seek risks outside traditional boundaries including drugs, pornography, and extreme thrill-seeking.
- Shallow: Not surprisingly, research shows that young people do not have a deep understanding of their faith.
- Antiscience: More than 50% of churchgoing youth want a career in a science-related field. Yet only 1% of preachers report addressing a scientific issue in the past year.
- Repressive: The truth is that 4 out of 5 religiously-minded young people have had sex. Christian teenagers have more conservative behavior than others but not different behavior.
- Exclusive: This generation has more non-Christian friends than previous generations and relationships with people of differing sexual orientations.
- Doubtless: Both intellectual and emotional doubt plagues our young people and is a significant reason young adults leave their churches.
It is really a modern tragedy that we have failed to help young people develop a biblical worldview. Despite years of worship assemblies and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, thousands of next-generation Christians have no idea that their faith in God and the scriptures should define their lives.
Adapted from Sean McDowell