Guest / Limited Access /

Some striking mile markers appear on the road through young adulthood: leaving for college, getting the first job and apartment, starting a career, getting married—and, for many people today, walking away from the Christian faith.

A few years ago, shortly after college, I was in my studio apartment with a friend and fellow pastor's kid. After some small talk over dinner, he announced, "I'm not a Christian anymore. I don't know what happened. I just left it."

An image flashed into my mind from the last time I had seen him. It was at a Promise Keepers rally. I remembered watching him worship, eyes pinched shut with one slender arm skyward.

How did his family react to his decision? I asked. His eyes turned to the ground. "Growing up I had an uncle who wasn't a Christian, and we prayed for him all the time," he said wistfully. "I'm sure they pray for me like that."

About that time, I began encountering many other "leavers": a basketball buddy, a soft-spoken young woman from my church's worship team, a friend from youth group. In addition to the more vocal ex-Christians were a slew of others who had simply drifted away. Now that I'm in my early 30s, the stories of apostasy have slowed, but only slightly. Recently I learned that a former colleague in Christian publishing started a blog to share his "post-faith musings."

These anecdotes may be part of a larger trend. Among young adults in the U.S., sociologists are seeing a major shift taking place away from Christianity. A faithful response requires that we examine the exodus and ask ourselves some honest questions about why.

Sons of 'None'

Recent studies have brought the trend to light. Among the findings released in 2009 from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedOxford's Unapologetic Female Apologist
Subscriber Access Only Oxford's Unapologetic Female Apologist
Amy Orr-Ewing proclaims the faith, once the bedrock of Britain, to an audience wanting more than rationalism.
Trending3 Important Church Trends in the Next 10 Years
3 Important Church Trends in the Next 10 Years
Christianity in the United States may look very different in 10 years.
Editor's PickWhat to Expect After the Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision
What to Expect After the Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision
We will see more challenges to the florists, the bakers, and the pizza crust makers. And more opportunities for witness.
Comments
Christianity Today
The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.