In a blog dated December 14th I referred to a study that looks at 6 reasons young people leave church.
Do you think their conclusions are applicable to the Anglican Church? Here is Reason #1 and my thoughts.
Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
“A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).”
Our Anglican Church culture does not always reflect or connect with the secular world. We do not meet the desire of youth that their faith in Christ connects to their surroundings. Congregations can stifle attempts to move out of comfort zones and reach out into their communities. This disconnected feeling between faith and the secular applies to many seekers who look for Church to be expanding its role in a struggling world rather than inward focused protectionism. Relevance and community based works are so important to youth that it is extremely detrimental to the Anglican faith community when a young person witnesses introverted, inward looking congregations and no faith in action. The general youth community I work with is constantly searching for social justice based learning, good deeds and relevance all linked to a gospel people. They are looking for a Missional church. Without a missional purpose our church and its faith can be irrelevant to seekers of all ages. A Church cannot preach the gospel without practicing it and then think it will be attractive and relevant to a searching youth population.
I don’t fully agree with the comment that the Church demonizes everything or is too concerned with the secular content of lives but I do think youth can feel judged and uncared for when a parish is often so busy trying to keep its doors open or maintaining the status quo they forget to reach out and be welcoming and inclusive to their surrounding community. Youth look for an ability to be part of positive change and outreach and if a church can’t meet those needs then those seeking will most certainly look elsewhere. So in response to reason #1, we aren’t overprotective of our youth. We are often overprotective of our congregations thus lose our youth. We need to let the world into our parishes and let our parishes out into the world.