How Apologetics Can Address the Six Reasons Why Young People Leave the Church

by Tim Barnett

After a five-year study, Barna Research president David Kinnaman found that 6 in 10 young people leave the church either permanently or for an extended period of time, beginning at age 15. This is an alarming statistic. Many people once thought the exodus from the faith started in college. Kinnaman found that it actually begins in the early teens.

This research does more than tell us when young people are leaving. It informs us as to why they are leaving.

In 2012, Christianity Today summarized Kinnaman’s findings into six reasons why young people leave the church.

Isolationism. One-fourth of 18- to 29-year-olds say church demonizes everything outside church, including the music, movies, culture, and technology that define their generation.

Shallowness. One-third call church boring, about one-fourth say faith is irrelevant and Bible teaching is unclear. One-fifth say God is absent from their church experience.

Anti-science. Up to one-third say the church is out of step on scientific developments and debate.

Sex. The church is perceived as simplistic and judgmental. For a fifth or more, a “just say no” philosophy is insufficient in a techno-porno world. Young Christian singles are as sexually active as their non-churched friends, and many say they feel judged.

Exclusivity. Three in 10 young people feel the church is too exclusive in this pluralistic and multi-cultural age. And the same number feel forced to choose between their faith and their friends.

Doubters. The church is not a safe place to express doubts say over one-third of young people, and one-fourth have serious doubts they’d like to discuss.

As I read through this list, two things immediately jumped out at me…

How Apologetics Can Address the Six Reasons Why Young People Leave the Church