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Friday, August 10, 2007

Young people are leaving churches in droves. What's the answer?


Spiritual damage is harder to see than weather damage

What is the answer to the American church's inability to retain young people? LifeWay research points us the pressing problem:

Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.

"This is sobering news that the church needs to change the way it does ministry," says Ed Stetzer, director of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"It seems the teen years are like a free trial on a product. By 18, when it's their choice whether to buy in to church life, many don't feel engaged and welcome," says associate director Scott McConnell.

The statistics are based on a survey of 1,023 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who said they had attended church at least twice a month for at least one year during high school. LifeWay did the survey in April and May. Margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Any clues as to what will hold them and, more importantly, help them continue to grow into solid disciples?

The survey found that those who stayed with or returned to church grew up with both parents committed to the church, pastors whose sermons were relevant and engaging, and church members who invested in their spiritual development.

"Too many youth groups are holding tanks with pizza. There's no life transformation taking place," Stetzer says. "People are looking for a faith that can change them and to be a part of changing the world."


Read the rest here from USA Today.

What can churches do?

Photo by "cottergarage." Some rights reserved.

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