3 Primary Reasons Youth Leave the Church—what we can do about it

Mosaic_Eyes_Madonna_TaorminaThe Mosaics (or Millennial generation) feel a huge disconnect from today’s traditional church. Three primary reasons why this is happening, according to some surveys, are: access, alienation and authority.[1]

 1) Access: unlimited access to other worldviews—because of the Internet, technology is fueling the rapid pace of change, and a disconnection between the past and the future (one reason why apologetics training is crucial.)

 2) Alienated: young people feel alienated from the past traditional family because today’s family has become a multiplicity-type. For example, many fathers are absent (the current birth rate of single women has climbed to 42%, according to Barna research), leaving some without a grid for understanding their “heavenly Father.”

 3) Authority: questions about who to believe and why surface constantly in our relativistic culture, which is fueling a growing hostility to people of faith. There are virtually no Christian influencers among the Mosaics, who prefer actors to be a primary influence. Many don’t consult pastors for advice, turning instead to peers, or the Internet for opinions about religious questions (opinions are often valued over truth).

The disconnected youth typically fall into three categories:

1) Nomads: those who have become disenchanted with the church, wrestle with faith and profession, and tend to wander from one place to the next.

2) Prodigals: completely reject their Christian roots.

3) Exiles: still have a committed faith, but don’t like today’s church because they perceive it to be too worldly, or that it focuses on conservative politics and/or consumerism.

Is the church too overprotective? Mosaics see church as a creativity killer when creative expression is of inestimable value to them. Is the church too shallow? Mosaics view it as boring, with formulaic slogans. They don’t feel supported by the church to follow Christ in their non-traditional endeavors. Young people want to break outside of the four church walls, seeing the Kingdom of God influence culture in areas that used to be primarily upheld by the Church hundreds of years ago: art, entertainment, new inventions, etc.

Mosaics deeply value creativity and entrepreneurship, and I think it should be the Church’s responsibility to help young people see ways they can connect their faith to their profession, be it web design, science, medicine or technology. We can assist parents in helping their kids understand how to connect faith to various professions. Walking in the Spirit on earth means that our faith is a part of everything we do, not just on Sunday mornings.

How do we inspire young people to express the Christian worldview in art, science or technology? This is something we need to collaborate on, navigating an ever-changing world. This is the Church’s challenge—to help Mosaics affect our culture, to take faith into these non-traditional areas, and to influence the world for Christ in all areas of life.

[1] These statistics were taken from the book “You Lost Me,” by David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Research Group.