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About three-fourths of young people quit church. "Tell me something I don't know," you say.

Well, Lifeway Research (Southern Baptist) says they know the reasons why 70 percent of 18-year-olds who attended church regularly in high school quit by age 23: they don't like it. And by age 30, 34 percent still have not rebounded. That means one in four young Protestants has left the church.

On their laundry list of reasons: they wanted a break (27%), church is too judgmental (26%), they moved away to college (25%), busy with work (23%).

On the positive side, the 30 percent who kept attending church cited solid spiritual reasons, including: "it's vital to my relationship with God" (65%) and church "helps guide my everyday decisions" (58%).

Lifeway's Ed Stetzer blames the losses on sorry youth ministry: "Too many youth groups are holding tanks with pizza," Stetzer said. "There's no life transformation taking place. People are looking for a faith that can change them and be part of changing the world."

"Unless religious leaders take younger adults more seriously, the future of American religion is in doubt," said Bowling Alone author and sociologist Robert Wuthnow, whose new book, After the Baby Boomers, was published in September.

The proportion of young adults identifying with mainline churches is about half what it was a generation ago, and evangelicals have barely held their own, Wuthnow said.

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Related Topics:ChristianityFaithStatisticsTrendsYouthYouth Ministry
From Issue:On the Margins, Fall 2007 | Posted: October 1, 2007

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