Study: Teens Leaving Churches, Citing Judgmental, Unfriendly Atmospheres

A five-year study by the faith-and-culture research organization The Barna Group has found that almost 60 percent of Christian teenagers are leaving church life after age 15, many not returning as they enter young adulthood.  The study followed 1,296 teenagers who were either current or former churchgoers, and it found that teens largely see churches as overprotective, antagonistic to science, and unwelcoming to those who doubt their faith.

Religion News Service reports on the study:

One in four 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church.” One in three said “Church is boring.”

Clashes between church expectations and youths’ experience of sexuality have driven some away. One in six young Christians said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” And 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Catholics said their church’s doctrine on sexuality and birth control is “out of date.”

“Churches are not prepared to handle the ‘new normal,”‘ Barna president David Kinnaman, told RNS. “However, the world for young adults is changing in significant ways, such as their remarkable access to the world and worldviews via technology, their alienation from various institutions, and their skepticism toward external sources of authority, including Christianity and the Bible.”

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  1. by Kate

    On December 14, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Churches need to embrace teens and give them love and acceptance. We have a great teen group in our church who do alot of mission work around the city, sing in the choir, and have fun together in a safe environment. We are blessed with a wonderful youth leader. If church is boring, the teens need to get involved and do work for Jesus Christ and get their minds off themselves and how much fun they should have all the time. They will be much more fulfilled and happy. Same goes for the adults.

  2. by anointedma

    On December 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I don’t know what denominations they polled,but the Spirit filled ,…(not pentacostal holiness)..churches and Denoninational churches that allow the Holy Spirit to move in them, are seeing a great move of God in the Youth and Young Adults…There is a fire that cannot be quenched..

  3. by covermedown

    On January 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    The failure in the children’s lives starts with the Christians around them.They don’t teach nor disciple the children from early, and that is partly because they themselves weren’t properly taught and discipled and they nor the children don’t have any other substitute.

    So the Christian life of the Church’s youth starts off disadvantaged. I am certain that those churches where the youth are alive in Christ have a healthy mixture of dedicated home and church leadership, a general genuine love for God, His people and His Word, and the actual active presence of the Holy Spirit working together.

    And to go back to Kate’s point, without those characteristics being seen and enjoyed in your Christian surroundings, teens and young adults are going to find these environments low on genuine love, a deep knowledge of God and His things, and the joy that His Spirit brings, i.e. boring, unloving, unstable.Nothing to keep a young heart and mind, and they’ll look elsewhere for meaning and value and happiness.

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