It’s been 10 years since I published a book on why people quit church and, no surprise to me, the topic is still making news.
The Nashville-based Lifeway Research released some findings last week that I meant to get to sooner. But then the unlucky meeting of some Catholic high school kids, obscenity-spouting Black Hebrew Israelites and drum-pounding Native Americans in Washington, D.C., a week ago pushed everything else out of the news.
Back to the regular news chase, I found it unsurprising that young people drop out of church. I mean, most youth take a vacation from religion during their college years. The journalism issue right now is what has changed. As the Tennessean said:
Large numbers of young adults who frequently attended Protestant worship services in high school are dropping out of church.
Two-thirds of young people say they stopped regularly going to church for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, a new LifeWay Research survey shows.
That means the church had a chance to share its message and the value of attending with this group, but it didn't stick, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
"That's a lot of folks saying, 'No, that's not for me' or 'It's not for me right now' at that young age," McConnell said.
Again, youth have been dropping out of church during their college years for as long as I can remember, so that’s not news. What is?
The reasons fell under four categories:
· Nearly all — 96 percent — cited life changes, including moving to college and work responsibilities that prevented them from attending.
· Seventy-three percent said church or pastor-related reasons led them to leave. Of those, 32 percent said church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical and 29 percent said they did not feel connected to others who attended.
· Seventy percent named religious, ethical or political beliefs for dropping out. Of those, 25 percent said they disagreed with the church's stance on political or social issues while 22 percent said they were only attending to please someone else.