A recent article in USA Today by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY revealed that 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.
Relevant Magazine examined the problem and suggests some solutions that some churches are trying.
In my opinion, young people leave the church after high school because they have become too accustomed to everything around them (including church and God) fitting into their comforts and values rather than yielding and submitting to higher standards that might not be comfortable. In addition, young Christians are not challenged to think, but rather to have fun and enjoy superficial relationships. They are allowed to get away with a self-centered consumerism without being challenged. Sadly, they don’t see many good examples of deep faith in the older generation. Perhaps that’s why discipleship and training are lacking. Young people are highly capable of sacrifice, dedication, deep thought and selfless devotion to ideals. I think the local churches ought to be tapping those qualities and anchoring them in the timeless truths of scripture to unleash the zeal and dedication that is possible with young people. Bottom line, however, is that godly zeal is a manifestation of the internal work of the Holy Spirit, so it’s not a matter of our striving but more what we allow the Spirit to do in and through us. Ultimately, we all (old and young) need to work toward a yielded connectedness to the person of a living God.