5 Reasons Why Not All Young Adults Leave the Church [Excerpts]
Recently, 20-year-old Bailey, a student at a local college, heard her professor of comparative religion tell the class, "The Christian faith uses terms like sanctification, justification, and propitiation. But church members have no idea what these terms mean."
Bailey raised her hand and said, "Professor, they do in my church." A few days later, this same prof, who seems to be making a career of misrepresenting believers, told the class, "There are 66 books in the Christian Bible. But only the professionals can name them all."
Bailey said, "Sir, in my church, even the children can name the books of the Bible." Bailey demonstrates why not everyone raised in the church strays or drops out altogether when they reach young adulthood.
[When] asked about their withdrawal, dropouts said they were too busy, churches too irrelevant, Christians too judgmental, leaders too hypocritical, and denominations too political.
I suspect the dropouts omitted one huge factor for their non-attendance in church: the heart is a rebel. The temptation to renege on life's commitments — even those we feel strongest about is continually present, not always complicated, and ever a concern for even the most faithful of believers.
From all I know and have observed, here is why they stayed. Five reasons why many young people raised in the church never drop out:
1) A genuine, personal relationship with Jesus Christ: Now, those with a personal relationship with a particular church or youth group or student minister cannot be counted on to stay.
2) A solid foundation: Young adults like Bailey who grow up with strong roots in the doctrines of the Bible cannot be easily pulled off course by errant professors or pleasure-seeking friends.
This "solid foundation" is no mystery and does not have to be complicated. It's simply the result of discipling young believers, teaching them, in the words of our Lord, "to observe all the things that I have commanded you" (Matthew:28:20).
3) The security of supportive friends: No group on the planet is as vulnerable to peer influence as young people. While this is generally viewed as a negative, it can be made to work for us. Young people reach their friends for Christ. (In contrast, churches with no youth at all find it nearly impossible to begin a ministry to them.)
4) Great role models: Once or twice during those college years, when professors or my reading material caused me to question my Christian faith, the Scriptures, and even the existence of God, nothing pulled me back from the brink like looking around at the sharp men and women in my church who were devoutly following Jesus Christ. Before I learned how to study the evidence for the faith myself, these were my proofs that God is real and Christ is alive and the gospel is true.
In fact, as I compared the Christian men and women I knew with the typical miserable atheistic philosophy major or the professor who prided himself on his agnosticism, there was no question which I would prefer to model my life after.
5) No viable alternative: Young adults are not stupid. They can see the church has problems.
However, as they think the matter through, they frequently come to the same conclusion as the Apostle Peter. When our Lord noticed the crowd leaving because they'd found His teachings difficult, Jesus said to the disciples, "Well, how about you? Will you go away too?"
Simon Peter said,"Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John:6:66-68).
That one fact more than anything else may account for believers through the ages hanging tough with the Lord's church when times were hard, temptations strong, questions proliferated, and the enemy was active.
(Dr. Joe McKeever, "5 Reasons Why Not All Young Adults Leave the Church," Crosswalk.com, April 24, 2012).