Recently, we ran an article about Lifeway’s research into the large number of teens dropping out of church after high school. Today, we’ll look at what can be done about it. To combat this trend, LifeWay’s director of student ministry says, leaders must invest in student ministry and make an intentional effort to focus on individuals during traditional college years.
The 2017 LifeWay Research survey released last Tuesday reveals that 66 percent of Americans between 23 and 30 years old said they stopped attending church on a regular basis for at least a year after turning 18.
The five most frequently chosen, specific reasons for dropping out were: moving to college and no longer attending (34 percent); church members seeming judgmental or hypocritical (32 percent); no longer feeling connected to people in their church (29 percent); disagreeing with the church’s stance on political or social issues (25 percent); and work responsibilities (24 percent).
Of the 66 percent who left the church during their college years, 71 percent didn’t plan on taking a break, the study found.
Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay and author of Within Reach: The Power of Small Changes in Keeping Students Connected, pointed out that for the most part, young people aren’t leaving the church out of “bitterness, the influence of college atheists, or a renunciation of their faith.”
“What the research tells us may be even more concerning for Protestant churches: there was nothing about the church experience or faith foundation of those teenagers that caused them to seek out a connection to a local church once they entered a new phase of life. The time they spent with activity in church was simply replaced by something else,” he said.
Trueblood explained to LifeWay that there are 10 strong predictors of young adults staying or dropping out of the church after high school, including parental influence, regular Bible reading, and the investment of adults.