no surprise here

Check out the most recent USA Today report on post-high school church involvement. Not really anything new here, just another study showing that church attendance is simply not that important to most twentysomething Christians, let alone not-yet-Christians. In fact, we’d be considered among those who have “left the church.” Here’s a snippet:

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.

Who knows what these numbers would be if people people didn’t typically embellish their church attendance frequency in polls like these.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mateo on August 10, 2007 at 10:12 am

    That article was really good. I think we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions about the church model being wrong. The study also found that the people who left didn’t really like the people in the church.

    “Dropouts were more than twice as likely than those who continued attending church to describe church members as judgmental (51% for dropouts, 24% for those who stayed), hypocritical (44% vs. 20%) or insincere (41% vs. 19%)”

    I think this study can serve as a wake-up call that we need to follow Christ more closely, not that all churches are bad news. Another quote that stuck to me was:

    “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.”

    Since we are the church, I think this serves as a challenge to invest in each other’s spiritual development no matter how we gather.

    Reply

  2. Mateo,

    we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions about the church model being wrong.

    indeed you are correct, the model may not seem to have been (and in truth may not have been) a contributing factor in this exodus… so we should be careful how we read the findings.

    Dropouts were more than twice as likely than those who continued attending church to describe church members as judgmental (51% for dropouts, 24% for those who stayed), hypocritical (44% vs. 20%) or insincere (41% vs. 19%)

    i hate when people do this… it doesn’t tell us anything, of course most of the people who stay will not consider themselves to be any of these things! however, your statement that we should all follow Christ more closely is one we can all get on board with… my question is this, hasn’t that been what churches have unsuccessfully attempted to help people do for years now???

    there may be some heartburn over my statement that it has been unsuccessful, but surely the findings published in this report support that conclusion.

    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.

    again, who determined what “committed”, “relevant and engaging”, and “invested” mean? these are highly subjective terms. it is not surprising that those returning don’t have negative memories about their experiences.

    what i find to be more telling is that nearly all the problems cited seem to be people/relational problems. interestingly enough Stetzer seems to think its a problem with the way the program is functioning.

    granted, this may be slanted reporting and it may not be Stetzer’s actual opinion… but i wouldn’t be surprised if it were. i think it is the opinion of many church leaders that the problems are with the programs. according to this report, the people leaving seem to think its a people problem.

    some would say that’s their excuse, but most saying that are still in a church that’s losing people…

    i don’t know, its a very complex problem and the truth is that there are many reasons for this mass exodus.

    its not all about the model

    but then again, some of it probably is.

    peace
    and
    respect

    Reply

  3. perhaps part of it has to do with this “youth group” identity that is lost upon HS graduation. after that, deep levels of community are difficult to find as in the “glory days” of the youth group. people keep looking back to the days when they were “on fire” or whatever.

    so speaking from my experience, I do think it’s partly a structure problem. There’s deep church often found in youth group that quickly gets shallow and disconnected in adulthood. and I agree that it’s about not liking others in the church. I’ve been in a place where I realized I didn’t want to become like any man older than me in my church. I definitely did some rethinking then.

    Reply

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