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?