LifeWay: Biblical Solutions for Life - LifeWay Research Uncovers Reasons 18 to 22 Year Olds Drop Out of Church
To uncover the reasons young people leave church, LifeWay Research conducted a survey in April and May 2007 of more than 1,000 adults ages 18-30. Each indicated that they had attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year in high school.
Should I stay or should I go?
According to the study, 70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22.
In most cases, the decision to leave was not planned far in advance. Only 20 percent of these "church dropouts" agree that while they were attending church regularly in high school they "planned on taking a break from church once [they] finished high school."
Among those who predetermined to leave church, few told anyone about their desire. One reflected, "I just told my parents I didn’t like it," rather than sharing an intention to actually leave. Another said, "I kept my feelings secret for fear of losing my friends."
Why do most young people leave?
Life changes or life situations cause young people to leave the church. In fact, 97 percent of dropouts list one or more specific life-change issues as a reason they left church.
Six of the top 10 reasons church dropouts leave relate to life changes. The most frequent reason for leaving church is, in fact, a self-imposed change, "I simply wanted a break from church" (27 percent).
The paths toward college and the workforce are also strong reasons for young people to leave church: "I moved to college and stopped attending church" (25 percent) and "work responsibilities prevented me from attending" (23 percent).
In addition to moving to college, others simply "moved too far away from the church to continue attending" (22 percent) and, it can be assumed, did not find a closer church.
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