On to Reason #2 that young Christians leave the church according to the Barna Study we’ve been following.
Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow. “A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).”
I find the word “shallow” difficult to work with. I don’t think it is the correct word to use when describing the points such as church is boring or disconnected. Shallow to me means lacking depth where as what these youth in the study are saying is that the Church is disconnected and not meeting their spiritual needs. How many times have we heard church is boring from both adults and youth? It doesn’t mean the church is lacking in depth but it is not meeting the personal preferences of worship style and delivery of the Message. They are seekers whose journey is not being supported by their current parish relationship.
As youth and youth leaders, I think we need to take this comment very seriously. Boring kills our ability to support and bring the Gospel to our young people. If church and programs are deemed boring then there is no positive draw for the youth who are seeking. Parents dragging them to programs or young adults attending because they think they should is less than helpful in the long run. We need to meet young adults at a place where they can talk, comment and more importantly ask questions about their faith journey. We need to have times where the music, discussion and surroundings are something that they are comfortable with and can relate to. Their church needs to be a place where they feel accepted and safe to ask difficult faith questions and to continue their spiritual growth at a pace that is beneficial to them and will also grow the Church in a positive, fulfilling way.
So are we as a Church shallow? I don’t think so. But I do think we need to be aware of what we do and how we do it as Church relating to youth and young adults. We as a Church and congregations have a depth of history and knowledge that needs to be shared in a relevant, thoughtful way with those young people who seek to have a relationship with God with meaningful parish support.