3 Kinds of Students That Leave Christianity After High School
by Jonathan Morrow
“I just don’t believe what you believe anymore.” These are words that no Christian parent or youth leader ever wants to hear. After this bombshell hits and the shockwaves subside, we wonder if something could have been different. What happened to this student who was so active in church growing up? After all, they never missed youth group. Sadly, this scenario is not the exception. Approximately 50 percent of students will disengage from their faith after they leave home.
While students have to ultimately choose whom they will follow, I think there is a lot we can do to reverse this trend. First, we need to better understand the students who leave their faith behind after graduation. As I’ve worked with high school and college students over the years and studied the research, there are three basic kinds of students that leave Christianity after high school.
The Christian Relativist
To understand this first type, meet Jennifer. Jennifer grew up in a Christian home and regularly attends church. Over time, she observes a lot of her friends and older Christians in her life saying one thing, but living another. The takeaway? Christianity is important to people for two hours on a Sunday morning, then it fades into the background the rest of the week.
As time passes, Jennifer comes to believe Christianity is just true for her because this is just what she personally believes and how she was raised. Faith kind of gets quiet in her life as she gets older. Jennifer doesn’t want to be judgmental or intolerant of what others sincerely believe. Picking up on the social cues around her, faith becomes comfortable and private. However, the moment this happens, Christianity loses its power and vitality because true Christianity, at its core, is a public faith. She doesn’t risk relationships to tell friends about Jesus or swim against the moral current with her everyday choices. Why rock the boat?
On the inside, the Christian relativist leaves real Christianity behind along the way without visibly casting off the label of being Christian. After all, faith is meant to be private anyway.
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