This is an alarming statement from a Barna Update released today (November 16, 2011), “Five Myths about Young Adult Church Dropouts“:
Overall, about three out of ten young people who grow up with a Christian background stay faithful to church and to faith throughout their transitions from the teen years through their twenties.
The Barna findings raise a number of questions to understand why this phenomenon is so common today. At the same time, this is not par for the course for every young person. The article continues,
Myth 2: Dropping out of church is just a natural part of young adults’ maturation
Reality: First, this line of reasoning ignores that tens of millions of young Christians never lose their faith or drop out of church. Thus, leaving church or losing faith should not be a foregone conclusion.
What makes the difference? It seems to me that there are two major influences on the next generation: parents and congregations. First, parents should take their faith seriously. This is the bare minimum. If Christ is merely an accessory to mom and dad, He will be merely an accessory to their offspring. Second, the Church generally and local churches particularly should cherish Christ and live the gospel sincerely. A congregation of believers who evidence, albeit imperfectly, a warm, personal faith and love for one another passes the sniff test, so to speak.
This post is admittedly brief (it was intended to be a tweet!). Barna’s findings warrant further interaction. The bottom line is that we don’t want to lose a generation (cf. Judges 2:10). We want to help the next generation be committed followers of Christ. Let’s begin by cherishing Christ ourselves in our homes and in our assemblies.