Why College students are Really Leaving the Church
Life in Progress Ministries
I’ve read several articles on the subject of “Why the youth leave the church.” Usually the articles give reasons such as, “They were never really saved,” or “they were never taught the importance of fellowship,” or “they weren’t discipled,” and the lists go on.
While I don’t think the points made in the articles are incorrect, I do believe most of the lists are incomplete and do not adequately address one of the biggest reasons people leave the church after high school.
It may be that, because they grew up in a culture that was friendlier to Christianity, church leaders don’t realize the need to prepare students for the intellectual challenges to Christianity in a deep way. Regardless, as someone who is much closer to college age than middle age I need to point out a harsh, possibly offensive reality:
Most churches — probably yours — have done and are doing a terrible job teaching people, especially youth, why they should believe Christianity is true. A lot of churches do a great job of teaching what the Bible says, but that does no good if a person does not believe or is later convinced that the Bible is not a supernaturally inspired book!
Now, this is article is no attack on my pastors or youth pastor. I imagine they did what they knew how to do and taught what they thought was important and followed the examples that they had. I would imagine that a lot of what I will say might be “greek” to you. But times have changed and I promise you that your under-30 crowd is dealing with these issues.
Your youth-group kids are going to enter a college-world (if not a high school) that is openly hostile to the Christian faith. Be assured, your students will be challenged to defend — using evidence — every aspect of their faith. And most Christians, regardless of age, don’t know what the evidence is; and many of those who do, don’t know how to explain it.
As I see it, there seem to be two options which are regularly tried:
1. Try to convince students and parents (for those youths in your church who are lucky enough to have Christian parents) to go to private Christian high schools and colleges where they will be sheltered for a few more years or home-school.
2. Try to convince the youth of your church who choose to go to secular schools to avoid the parties and find a church. Hope and pray for the best even though statistically 60–70% won’t be seen in a church again.
I would like to suggest to you a third option…
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