Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith
I just finished Drew Dyck’s book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith…and How to Bring Them Back. I’ve been involved in college ministry for eight years, and I recognize that young adults are continually leaving their faith, but this book explored why they do. In fact, “Generation Ex-Christian” is the first research-based book that thoroughly explains the whys of leavers. I had a hard time putting it down, because as I read, names of friends who have walked away from church or their faith on some level or another kept entering my mind. This book broke my heart for college students who once knew and loved Jesus, but for one reason or another, left him in the dust as they transitioned from youth to adulthood.
The book is well-organized and easy to read. The contents page easily shows how the book is broken down into six main sections; each section highlights a type of leaver and explores the thought, pain, childhood experiences, sin, or confusion that lead them to decide to dismiss Jesus. Dyck identifies six main categories of leavers—postmodern leavers, recoilers, modern leavers, neo-pagans, rebels, and drifters. Each section ends with practical steps that we can take to speak to, reach, and engage with leavers. Armed with an understanding of why they left better equips us to address their specific concerns.
For example, I now realize that I should avoid arguing the legitimacy of the gospel based on reason with a postmodern leaver, because they don’t believe reason is the way to truth. Instead, I can build trust with them by inviting them to serve with me, because many of them are socially conscious and very concerned for the marginalized and poor.
I now understand that recoilers have often tragically suffered abuse in the name of God, and when they felt wounded by God, decided he didn’t exist. They also were hurt mostly in the context of relationships, so healing must also come in that context. My best approach in caring for them is to empathize, not argue, and to point them to the cross, a symbol and promise to all who suffer that even the worst injustice can lead to redemption.
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