Statistics abound that point to an epidemic facing Christian families today. All one needs to do is to select which study they prefer . . . we are losing our young people. A recent study by Chap Clark and Kara Powell (with the Fuller Youth Institute) claim that between 40-50% of all churched teenagers leave their faith when they leave home. Just think about how scary that number is. For a family with three children, the statistics say that one of your children will leave their faith. As disconcerting as this is, all is not lost: according to the same study, between 25-40% of those young Christians that left will return in their mid to late twenties.
There is an abundance of material available offering both research-driven and anecdotal explanations for what is causing our young people to leave their faith. Some of these are obvious, for example, we live in an increasingly secular society; while others are a little more complex (i.e. implications from changing theology). Here are five possible explanation from a concerned observer with five kids.
- There is a clear decline in spiritual engagement. In other words, there is a lack of interest in religious activities. There are two great examples of this: summer church camp and bible bowl activities. At one point, the activities were extremely popular with kids and parents alike circling the dates on the calendar. Now, depending on the location, bible bowls and church camps are struggling to stay alive.
- A drop-off mentality culture has begun to invade churches. In other words, parents are often relying on their local church and their professional clergy to instill faith in their children. Unfortunately, not only is that against the biblical mandate for parents to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it’s simply a bad idea that doesn’t work.
- It’s easy to throw rocks at parents and condemn them for the drop-off mentality, as if they don’t care about their children or are too lazy to make the investment in their spiritual growth. That’s usually not the case. Instead, many parents pass off the responsibility of instilling their children’s faith onto the church because they lack confidence. They lack confidence because they have never been equipped and encouraged to own their child’s spiritual development.
- There is a lot of competition for the Christian worldview. Satan is extremely talented at redefining values; and these secular values find its way into our homes and eventually our hearts. These ideas like consumerism, materialism and relativism are constantly pulling and tugging children away from the Lord and closer to the world.
- Perhaps the greatest factor that leads our kids away is a poor theology. In far too many homes and churches we are teaching our children to believe in and base their faith upon faulty theology and doctrine. For example, far too many are placing their faith in coming to church instead of seeking out a deep and intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ.