Saturday, March 3, 2012

Discuss: Teens Drop Out of Church; Santorum Blames Higher Education

It's no secret that teens seems to leave the church in droves—a google search for “teens leaving church” turns up over 28 million results—and it seems that everyone has their own opinion about why.

Last week, Rick Santorum, in an interview with Glenn Beck, blamed higher education:
You know the statistic that at least I was familiar with from a few years ago—I don't know if it still holds true but I suspect it may even be worse—that 62% of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.

Web articles published recently (here, here, and here) indicate that Santorum may have missed it on the statistic, but the fact remains: teens are leaving.

Tim Kring, writing for CNN’s religion blog, offered his take on the real reason young people leave Christianity.

Please take a minute to read Kring’s article, and then come back here to discuss:
  • Why do you think teens are leaving?
  • Why do some teens remain faithful?
  • What is our responsibility as pastors in the matter?
  • What is our responsibility as PCG/NPN leaders?


  1. Ed Stetzer's (the 2nd "here" in the parentheses) is worth a close look.

    Here are two interesting excerpts:

    "People who attend college are less likely to walk away from the faith than those who don't attend college."

    "College students are no more likely to develop liberal religious beliefs than non-students. In some cases, collegians actually appear more likely to retain their initial beliefs."

    And in the comments, Park Slope Pubby wrote, "Often our church gets non-college-educated visitors, but their lives are so disorganized that it is very difficult for them to consistently make it on Sunday morning. The college-educated, on the other hand, make a commitment and keep it."

    What do you think? Is college helpful, hurtful, or neutral with regard to faith?

  2. Teens are generally hungry to belong to a movement that is doing something significant and meaningful. Too many churches are stagnent. Even cogregations that meet for numerous church services each week are often inactive in their communities or beyond. The greatest asset most congregations have is their building. Unfortunately, the greatest liability most congregations have is their building. If it doesn't happen inside their building it just doesn't happen. Teens are far more likely to be attracted to what happens outside the building, with real people in communities. Teens know when we are just playing church (or when it seems that way because of our inactivity outside the local building), and it disgusts them. So many teens leave the church (many adults too). They should be leaving the church, so to speak. The question is, are we as church leaders going to be leading them when they go?

  3. Maybe Teens are dropping out of church because people in administration of the church are behaving inappropriately to the teens (inappropriate touches or words). And when the teen takes it to someone in authority that a Teen would consider safe and secure person of authority (like a youth pastor) the teen gets shot down and discounts the teens words. The person in authority excuses the behavior of the person towards the teen. The teen is left feeling like they caused the behavior of the person that behaved inappropriately. The teen is left feeling like their word is discounted and that they do not matter. Maybe teems are leaving churches because this behavior is being overlooked and excused by church leadership... Many years later the same people are in church administration and who knows how many more teens have been victimized by the church. And excused by leadership as "you just took this person wrong", "he is friendly like that to everyone", "why would he do that to you there are a lot more prettier girls in the church that he would do that to". Don't believe it...? Well, it happened, happens and is happening now. I know because my wife has been the victim of such cases. And you know what she is told... it must have been something you did... or you must have misunderstood what he was saying. He is just a friendly guy... Crazy enough, he is still there in the church today... And what is church leadership doing about it, nothing...(sweeping it under the rug and excusing it).

    1. I just wanted to add that it is PC of G church, (KC,MO)

    2. I agree that being a victim of sexual abuse or misconduct would cause a teen to leave a church. It's a shame such behavior exists, and I trust that God will thoroughly and perfectly execute vengeance upon the perpetrators.

      I don't, however, think that's the biggest reason for teens leaving the church -- there's far too many leaving for all of them to have been victims of misconduct.

      But on the other hand, maybe sinfulness of other sorts has crept in and robbed our churches of their power and their potential.

      I've heard old-time saints talk of going to evening church services and tarrying at the altars until the Holy Ghost fell, even if it took all night, but today's church-goers don't tarry -- they get upset if service lasts past 8pm.

      Some old-time saints would spend hours every day in prayer and in the word, but today's saints spend hours every day watching TV.

      Yesterday's preachers used to fast and pray that God would give them a Word; today's preachers just download somebody else's Word.

      Yesterday's saints had a set of standards that today's saints abandoned years ago, and we've slipped so far that there's little distinction now between those who attend church and those who don't -- divorce rates are similar, TVs are tuned to the same channels, movie tickets are purchased for the same shows, and radios are often tuned to the same stations.

      James 4:8 commands us to "Draw nigh to God" and promises that God will likewise draw nigh to us. Could it be that the old-time Pentecostal saints had more power because they spent more time drawing nigh to God? Could it be that we have less power because we decided we didn't need to draw as nigh to God as we used to?

      Could it be that today's teens are yearning for something real and powerful that they're not finding in the church?

    3. "If" your wife was molested in some way by a minister or lay person in a church, she ought to report it aggressively!

      Understand though that to make an accusation without evidence is a very serious undertaking. Many people are affected by just the accusation. If, for example, a person has misunderstood or even maybe lets say there was some real chemistry happening between two people and the person in question went right up the point of making some gesture or contact to further the relationship, but then fully realized that it was not a good idea and shut it down. The person who was left feeling either violated in some way or led to believe there was something there and then shown the cold shoulder. My point is that this is not necessarily the kind of thing that I would call a press conference about. If the lady in your situation is still offended by this person than she ought to address him privately with yourself there and it still not be a public issue. The only caviat to that would be if the violation was indeed a physical assault and not simply getting to close. My reason for replying is not to speak to "Why teens leave church" but to your situation that seems to have no real closure at this point. God loves you guys so much and healing and total forgiveness is available. That is really what is of high priority in that situation. You as a couple should not be feeling pain when you see this man elevating in the kingdom. Turn that offense into glory by allowing healing to come. I would be more than happy to counsel you further on this but the question is, What happened? and What do you believe needs to happen? . There are also great books on the subject of Offense and Healing but it sounds like you need a third party to set with you two. I will pray now and hope that your hearts are not so torn over this one human error that you have lost hope in our lovely God and also in the goodness of his church body. Cal

  4. My opinion for what it is worth is that our churches are not the only thing failing. Our communities, our countries and our families are failing too. We can't look at this as how do we fix a symptom of the problem but what is the root problem?

    I believe that the root problem is leadership not political or even religious but family. The fathers of our country, me included, have failed to be the living examples of the Word of God that we are called to be. This has been a generational degradation and each new generation starts out worse than the last. As fathers and husbands we are not leading by example. We are getting divorced because it isn't worth it any more, we quit our jobs because we get pissed off, we fail to share our wisdom and experience with the next generation and we fail to ask for wisdom from the previous generation.

    We have allowed our pride, fear and insecurities to make us the exact opposite that God called us to be. We are to be fervent and effectual not just in our prayers but in our life. Once the men of our country start standing up and living rightly our families will follow. We often only give lip service though instead of action. It is our actions that they will follow and it is our actions through Christ that will fix our families, our churches, our country and our world.

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  6. Copy this link into your bowser for my response. God bless.

  7. I have no idea if anyone would read my reply (lol) but here goes nothing.
    I loved the article and fully agree. Its to sad for us realize that we are the problem. People really don't have an issue with God, Jesus, the Bible (rightly read) or Church as an institution. I believe the are truly thirsty and deep down hope that there is water in these troughs.

    Truth is that when people come to churches throughout America they are more apt to find dissensions, jealousies, strife, vanity, competition, self righteousness, anger, political ambition, greed, fear and superstition, arrogance and a great lack of humble goodness.

    Teens leave church because...they want to. People do what they want to. They just do. I heard this the other day. You dont have to talk a crackhead into going to the crack house. He does not dread the experience. He doesn't try to avoid it or get out of it. When he gets there he does not hurry to leave or hate every minute. Point is when church is truly good and when what is coming out the doors and off the pulpit is heaven sent real time glory ; then people will come and they will come again.

    I have kids going to college in our church as most our pastors do. They still look forward to church on tues, wed, thurs, sat, and twice on sunday. Why? cause they want to. They want to because its good. They want to because they know they are respected with the choice and it is a culture of freedom that celebrates what Jesus did and does not major on what people are not doing.

    I will abstain from further comment on that. (LOL)

    God is so good! Jesus is truly the "desire of the nations". He is what people really desire. What they really want. They will go where ever he is truly being represented. They will travel from far off and flood the area where Jesus is really PRESENT.

    Thats what the bible says anyway.

    So if i focus on warning my teens about the devil and college far more than making my place of worship a hip-hoppin, holy joy infused, worry destroying, fear eradicating, all are loved and honored, festival of hopeful believing miracle working revivalist, glory cloud rising, fire restin, peaceful Dove abiding, concert of praise, honey flowing, angel choir singing, healing touches, honey lunches, poverty crushin, angst removing, Jesus loving celebration! Then those who don't want that need to take a travel to realize just how good it was back at Fathers house and when they come back they will be received and restored and welcomed like they never left.

    You may take that teen out of the church but thankfully Jesus is not so quick to leave us and though they may be fallen in some dark places, the risen Savior is not so far from them that He cannot save. If you did a decent...even a pitiful job of giving them that Name and that Promise, I imagine the Spirit will pick it up from there and bring increase in time.

    I did enjoy the mans article and still appreciate Santorum's thoughts and attempts to help us out.

  8. Jon Jennings, in his post on, referenced a book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman. Kinnaman makes a huge statement up-front: "The dropout problem is, at its core, a faith-development problem; to use religious language, it's a disciple-making problem. The church is not adequately preparing the next generation to follow Christ faithfully in a rapidly changing culture."

  9. Troy Holness, Jamaica, to answer this issue one needs to understand that the church at some stages have become irrelevant in terms of methods, and language, that is how we communicate the Gospel, young people needs to know we understand them, that we as a church do understand their language. Speak in a "church language" we do not seem to be able to identify with how young people speak or the language in which they are communicate. in addition, our methods of evangelism does not incorporate going to them, with respect to culture and or freedom of religion demonstrated in the open, but we can go to them, use sports as we seek to win these young women and men for Christ, should we get comfortable in this matter, then look at Judges 2v10 " there arose a generation that DID NOT KNOW GOD".

  10. The answer is PURE and SIMPLE! Our children are seeing TOO MUCH HYPOCRISY in the Church, HOME, and Government!

    Train up a child in the Way he should go.....
    "Do as I say, NOT as I do", is the mode of training....this is atrocious!
    Children will Do what they SEE and HEAR, and they WILL NOT understand words that are in direct opposition of what they see being ACTED out!
    You want to see our teens continue in the Faith? Then walk the walk! the 'talk' without the walk is a mockery to both God, church, and family!!!
    You want your teens to walk with God-then let them SEE YOU WALK WITH GOD!
    Want them to BE honest? Then YOU BE HONEST!
    Want them to BE Fair? then let them SEE you being fair!
    Want them to forgive? Then let them SEE you being forgiving!
    Want them to love and respect YOU? Then you SHOW them HOW by loving and respecting THEM!
    You can't scream and yell, argue and fight, demean and belittle them and expect them to do the opposite of what you do to them, in front of them, or around them!
    God SAVE our children from hypocritical 'teachers of the law, and Pharisees!'
    I pray that EVERY parent or teacher/preacher who reads this will take a GOOD long look at how they behave and talk to and around the youth of America!

    1. I agree Lily Sue. The bible says He that has the love of the world does NOT have the Love of the Father. Wordly movies, Music, games, immodest dressing in leadership women, gossip, worldly activities in the church, pagan holidays, etc.... We are NOT saved by our own righteousness but it is the Righteousness of Christ in us and through us and over us by the Power of His Spirit, not our human strength. We need Repentance.... We need to cry out for Mercy for our babies.. GOD HELP our Little once... We are talking about eternal Hell! Lets repent Church and turn Whole heartedly to the King of Glory and allow His blood to wash us clean.... Get rid of the world in our homes, Churches, and exalt Our Heavenly Father and Our Lord JESUS! Kids need to receive Baptism of Holy Ghost and taught to read their bibles and pray everyday and learn to worship GOD on their own in Spirit and truth. We have families that are not believers and set a bad example to our children as it is.... We don't have to go along with the world or with are unbelieving family.... We need to get rid of self righteousness and depend on Christ alone, but that doesn't mean taking GODs grace as a form of liberality to continue to sin, JESUS died to deliver us from the works of darkness that we may walk in the light in holiness and LOVE! GOD Help us!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm the first in line.... I and we the church need JESUS!!!! We need as individuals to become intimate and pray always, consecrating our lives more continuously to our Loving Savior and Heavenly Father.... We need our prayer closets and intercede for the church world wide. We need each other! The world is getting darker and darker and we need to get bolder and bolder about our faith, Loving our enemies but not compromising. Love you body of Christ! Serve JESUS in as much capacity as you could in your situation... Its not about a denomination, movement, Leadership, or religion, its about JESUS our Lord and Savior! Loving one another, Yet living for CHRIST!

    2. Its Spiritual Warfare!! We need to pray! We need to repent! We need to crucify our flesh with Christ! We need to forgive 70 times 70! We need to turn the cheek, OUCH!!! We need to pray without ceasing! We need to fast, another OUCH!! Our teens need real Christianity, remember the 7churches in revelation.... I encourage all of you individually to pray, read your bible, worship GOD in Spirit of Holiness, repent and continue it till JESUS saves our babies and takes us home safe with HIM. Pray for your love once and spouses. Blessings to the body of Christ!!

  11. The teens that I know leave Church because there friends and others tell them it is not nessacary. That you just need to accept Jesus.
    Their parents as well do not go.
    as well it is easier for them not to go that it is for them to go.

  12. I left church when I started college. I was in a new town, didn't know anyone, and didn't have a church to go to. If I had stayed in my hometown, I'm sure I would've kept going. But once I got living worked out (classes, friends, homework, life) I went back. It was pretty much just inherent laziness. I didn't have enough reason to bother looking for a new church as soon as I got there.
    Part of my problem is the lack of young adult classes at churches. Nothing but children and older, married adults. If there was more of a focus on my age group, it'd be much easier to go to church and not feel like the odd one out.

    1. It's hard to have young-adult classes if you don't have any young adults.

  13. I just thought of something regarding college education -- stats show that college doesn't take kids out of the global church body, but college certainly takes kids out of the local church.

    When a kid moves out-of-town, or out-of-state, to attend college, his home church attendance drops.

  14. We have told our younger generation they cannot understand the Word of God and replaced it with diluted New Age translations. We've replaced songs like "There's Power in The Blood" and "The Old Rugged Cross" with "feel good" songs that contain no theology. We don't tell them they should "honor God in all thy ways" (includes the way they dress) and now we can't understand why they're not firmly grounded!

    1. If this is the problem, then KJV-only churches which still sing hymns and preach standards should retain more of their youth than other churches which use newer translations and sing worship choruses.

      I don't think that's the case, and I also don't think you could say that contemporary churches retain more youth because they've watered-down the gospel and relaxed their standards. Youth are leaving both sorts of churches.

  15. While there are individual reasons why youth leave the church, we have seen two particular problems which hinder children from making a full commitment to Christ. The first is the public school system. It is not that all teachers are intrinsicly evil - - but the secular cirriculum plus the lack of discipline, along with anti-christian social structure leads children to doubt their homes and churches. Of course, seeing so many sheep led in that direction, our lambs conform into step with them. Worship of the earth, evolution, entitlement attitudes, early sexual experimentation, etc.. is all accepted in the public schools, and is sometimes encouraged.

    The second problem is the lack of good parenting. In the last generation, many parents are more concerned with a child being socially accepted, fashionably in style, and are quick to push their kids out of the house. With close to 40% of children not having a dad in the home, they say that a child only has about a 20% chance of following the faith of its mother, if she has a strong faith at all.

    Further, parents want to be recognized as good parents just because they produced off-spring! They don't want their own morality examined, so why would a child put much confidence in that kind of religion except for social gatherings.

  16. we must put the bible back in school

  17. I did not become as involved in the church as I could have because I didn’t comprehend the personal-security benefit of making the church my community when I was at university. Its spirit of inquiry misled me to think the world is safe, that I was safe, whereas I needed a lock on my bedroom door, a lock on my address book, a girlfriend led by the Bible instead of one led by guy-friends of hers. I needed a pastor-led community to protect me and needed to have fellowship with others committed to the Bible instead of those committed to fun, which was a double-meaning word for both positive and negative activities. Bible-committed gals and guys, pastor led, would not have been as damaging a community to me personally as my house-mates and apartment-mates whom were responsive, polite and manipulative and not committed to the Bible.

  18. For most kids leaving home they are not prepared for the attack on their faith that awaits them in most colleges and universities. The Bible is attacked. Their Faith in Jesus is attacked so most falter.

    The solution is simple knowledge about the strength of the King James Bible and its faithfulness to the Greek Manuscripts. Sadly this is being watered down in our churches with the use of translations that are based on Wescott and Horts thrown together 'original' text which is not based on the 5000+ greek texts available to the translators but the older less reliable texts from africa. Sadly the lack of teaching on the origins of our Bible has left our young people believing the lies of our school districts and secular media. Know what your bible is and what text it is based on. This will go a long way to building a faith in God and his word which is unshakable.

    Consider just a quick look at you tube and these 2 titles:
    Proof for the Bible - The dead sea scrolls
    Dell Johnson - The Bible Preserved

    1. Jerry, the King James version of the Bible is actually the most inaccurate version out there, with more than 1,000 errors. We have far better translations available to us. The KJV should never be used for serious Bible study.

    2. Donny, see, you are deceived and obviously are not educated in the versions or Bible languages.

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