When they are disconnected from the congregation, it should not surprise us that young adults, who have never known the church as a whole, are disinclined to embrace it when their age-graded group has run its course. Do you want your children to participate in the church when they become adults? Then cultivate their participation as they travel life towards adulthood.
Why young adults leave the church is one of the most vexing questions facing the church today. A 2007 LifeWay Christian Resources survey indicated that 70 percent of 18–22 year-olds stop attending church for at least one year. Furthermore, Barna surveys have repeatedly shown that a majority of 20 year-olds leave church, often never to return.
Writing at faithit.com, Sam Eaton cites twelve reasons millennials are leaving the church. Causation for young adults exiting the church has been studied for decades, yet little has been accomplished by way of reversing it. As a gospel preacher, seminary president, and father of five young children, this is more than a theoretical concern. At risk of being overly simplistic, I want to suggest three additional factors that are often overlooked in this discussion.
Many Young Adults Leave the Church because They Never Joined it Spiritually
Many young adults leave the church because they were never truly converted to Christ in the first place. John the Apostle warned us “They went out from us because they were never of us; for if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us.” And in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus soberly warns, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my father in heaven.”