Research shows young adults leave church, most adults believe there is more than one way to eternal life.

There is an interesting phenomena being uncovered by various research agencies. It seems that despite an active experience as teens, many young adults are leaving the church and often do not return. Only 19% maintained the level of activity they had while teens. More research is showing that most Americans believe there is more one way to eternal life. 

According to Barna Research Group, most young adults are leaving the church after leaving their parent’s home (http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=245). 

According to the Pew Forum, most americans believe that there is more than one way to eternal life (http://religions.pewforum.org/reports).

However, Lifeway Research casts doubt on the results of the Pew Forum research (http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=28386). That research will be released later this year.

These things bring up many questions: How were the questions formulated? What questions were meant? What does eternal life mean to the people who were interviewed? What religions did these people claim? What sects/denominations within those religions did they claim? How active were these individuals in their private religious life? How active were these individuals in their communities of faith?

But even if all these questions are answered, the questions that need to be addressed are: what is the church doing wrong? What are pastors, teachers, elders doing wrong? What are parents doing wrong? What needs to change? 

It seems to me that we have a variety of issues to address. One is that who should make up the church. Another is what should church look like. Another is what should youth ministry look like. Another is what should leaders teach members.

I think it is likely that these various studies are reflecting the same problem. 

Obviously we are entertaining the teens, but we are not giving them enough reason to stay in church. Perhaps part of the reason is that people who go to college have to find a new church. 

Part of the problem is also that most people in this country think there is more than one way to eternal life. 

I think these are the same problem. We have been conditioned to believe that a church has no reason for existence if it does not have a growing number of people attending. We have been conditioned that church needs to be engaging and entertaining. We have been conditioned to believe that ‘needs’ must be met. We have been conditioned that children must be separated from their parents and taught in their own programs. We have been conditioned that teenagers must be separated from both younger children and the parents, and given their own programs.

I think these ideas need to be questioned. We need to identify the goal of church. Then we need to find Biblical models for meeting these needs. 

For centuries children learned from Mom.  For centuries, teenagers were raised with the parent of the same gender, learning to do what it is parents do. Now we think they need to be entertained in church. Now the majority are leaving church when they become adults. Now the majority of people in this country, and indeed church goers specifically, believe there is more than one way to eternal life. Something is wrong with church.

I have a feeling our churches are too big. I have a feeling our churches are too focused on entertainment and not focused enough on teaching. How many adults read the Bible daily? How many children or teens read the Bible daily? How many youth groups can give evidence of the teens leading worship? How many youth groups can give evidence of the youth moving from being followers to leaders? I wonder if there is sufficient time since the house church movement began to do a study on the longitudinal efficacy of house churches and people staying active in church and knowing there is only one way to eternal life. 

Somehow, we need to change church.

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