A book from the Barna Research group entitled You Lost Me talks about the rapid decline of church connection and the loss of faith among people 18-30 who grew up going to church. Here are a few things their research found:
- 59% of young people with a Christian background report that they had or have “dropped out of attending church after going regularly.”
- Nearly 40% say they have gone through a period when they significantly doubted their faith.
That research is now 8 years old. All indications are that those numbers are rising.
Here’s another growing figure. Young people are leaving Churches of Christ at higher numbers than ever before. Many are leaving for other kinds of churches. Some are leaving church all together. My fear is not that if someone stops going to a Church of Christ and starts going to another church that they are lost. My concern is what are we losing when 50% or more are leaving. I’m concerned about what we lose if we refuse to listen to why they leave. Just listen. Not defensively, but to understand. We may or may not always agree, but we listen.
It’s helpful to be aware of the statistics, but more than that I hope we care about the people. Like the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep who leaves the 99 sheep to go after the one, I hope we never stop caring about and going after those that are walking away from church, and even more, walking away from faith in Jesus. However, in the language of the parable, it’s not just one walking away. With every new generation, 50-60 are walking away while less than half remain. So let’s build the relationships and start the conversations now.