Walking Away from the Faith, Part 2 of 5: Angry at “The Church”

Rick Mattson Church 2 Comments

Prior post: misunderstanding the “perfection” of God leads to disappointment

Research institutions such as Barna Group and Lifeway (as summarized in CT) tell us that the church dropout rate for young people age 16-24 is more than half.

Some young adults return to the church later on, when they start families. Some never return at all.

Those of us in campus ministry tend to run into church dropouts fairly often. They are my focus here.

What are they like?

Often they’re angry, hurt, or both.

Some had a negative experience at church, such as not feeling accepted by a youth ministry, or getting too close to the hostilities of a church split, or not believing they could ask questions or express doubts.

Other dropouts feel judged and rejected, often over issues of sexuality. They may have queer friends who despise the church, or they may be pursuing or experimenting with queer identity themselves. And now they feel the support of campus culture, providing them with a sense of empowerment for the first time in their adult lives.

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Belief in the basic gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ frequently melts away at some point in the process of leaving church, giving credence to the idea that experience and feelings shape belief.  

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How should church leaders and parents respond?

I’ll attempt an answer in my next post.


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash


Comments 2

  1. I’m curious to see where this leads Rick. Both of my kids 28 and 25 more or less walked away from the church after High School and through college. They’re both coming back slowly, hopefully, thankfully. For me, I guess, I have to lay the responsibility at my own feet and I don’t think we’re untypically of many families unfortunately in that we essentially turned our kids over to the church for religious/faith modeling/instruction. I’m not saying necessarily that was a bad thing but what I mean more or less is that, yes, we brought the kids to Sunday School, dropped them off on Wednesday nights to whatever program was designed for them during their middle/high school years, but never modeled our faith in the home for them. Church was something we did on Sundays. Outside of that we didn’t give it much thought during the week. It’s not small wonder they didn’t have much for it once they got out on their own.

    1. Post

      A thoughtful comment, thanks Drew. It seems to me the obvious lesson here is the importance of partnership between church and family in raising kids in the faith.

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