A new report says Protestant churches are losing young adults in big numbers.
It’s not just the so-called “mainline” denominations Americans between the ages of 18-30 are fleeing. It’s evangelical churches, too.
How bad is the exodus?
Seven in 10 in that age group quit attending church altogether by age 23. These were young people who regularly attended church through high school.
The survey by LifeWay Research shows 34 percent never return – not even sporadically by age 30.
The analysis is based on a sampling of 1,023 Protestants in the age group who attended church regularly during their teen years.
What does this mean?
Well, it is certainly not good news for the transformation process of the modern Protestant church in America.
I have long believed that many, if not most, of those attending Christian churches in America are not, in fact, Christians. They have not submitted their lives to Jesus Christ. They have not truly repented of their sins. They have not transformed their view of the world in the way Paul explained in Corinth: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Not even close.
I suspect a big reason for that is what churches are teaching – what they are demanding from their flocks.
Listen, for instance, to what Ed Stetzer, director of the survey, had to say about his findings.
“Too many youth groups are holding tanks with pizza,” he explained. “There’s no life transformation taking place. People are looking for a faith that can change them and to be a part of changing the world.”
Other surveys have pointed out the high percentage of “Christian” youth who “fall away” from the faith in their college years. While this is often blamed on the instruction they get in college, it also demonstrates the weakness of the faith of those who would be seduced by the shallow allure of secular humanism – the official faith of high education in America.
Do I blame the clergy? Yes. Do I blame the institutional church? Yes. But there’s plenty of blame to go around. Parents have too often abdicated their spiritual authority and responsibility to church just as they have abdicated their educational authority and responsibility to the schools.
So what’s the solution?
It starts with a stronger spiritual commitment by parents. Nothing is more important than the salvation of our kids. It’s not someone else’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of parents. Churches and pastors can be an ally in the spiritual education and affirmation of our children, but it is impossible to overstate the critical role played by parents.
How many Christian families are praying together – not just over meals, but in deep, committed, regular prayer time? How many Christian families are reading the Bible together? How many of them are participating in daily Bible studies with their children? How many of them are sending their kids off to secular, government schools for seven or more hours a day?
What’s more important – sports and other activities or the spiritual life of our kids? But where is the time spent? Where is the effort? Where is the involvement?
We only get one chance with our kids. They are only young once. We have a God-given responsibility to give them the Truth, to impart His Holy Word to them, to set them on a lifelong course of obedience and faith.
Don’t blow it.
Don’t wait for someone else to take the lead.
Don’t pass the buck to the church or a pastor.
And don’t put it off until tomorrow.
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