Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church

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We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then… they graduate from High School and they leave church. What happened?

It seems to happen so often that I wanted to do some digging; To talk to these kids and get some honest answers. I work in a major college town with a large number of 20-somethings. Nearly all of them were raised in very typical evangelical churches. Nearly all of them have left the church with no intention of returning. I spend a lot of time with them and it takes very little to get them to vent, and I’m happy to listen. So, after lots of hours spent in coffee shops and after buying a few lunches, here are the most common thoughts taken from dozens of conversations. I hope some of them make you angry. Not at the message, but at the failure of our pragmatic replacement of the gospel of the cross with an Americanized gospel of glory. This isn’t a negative “beat up on the church” post. I love the church, and I want to see American evangelicalism return to the gospel of repentance and faith in christ for the forgiveness of sins; not just as something on our “what we believe” page on our website, but as the core of what we preach from our pulpits to our children, our youth, and our adults.

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The facts:

The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.


Let that sink in.

There’s no easy way to say this: The American Evangelical church has lost, is losing, and will almost certainly continue to lose OUR YOUTH.

For all the talk of “our greatest resource”, “our treasure”, and the multi-million dollar Dave and Buster’s/Starbucks knockoffs we build and fill with black walls and wailing rock bands… the church has failed them.


The Top 10 Reasons We’re Losing our Youth:

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10. The Church is “Relevant”:

You didn’t misread that, I didn’t say irrelevant, I said RELEVANT. We’ve taken a historic, 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our kids. It’s not cool. It’s not modern. What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize.

As the quote says, “When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.”

I’m not ranting about “worldliness” as some pietistic bogeyman, I’m talking about the fact that we yawn at a 5-minute biblical text, but almost trip over ourselves fawning over a minor celebrity or athlete who makes any vague reference to being a Christian.

We’re like a fawning wanna-be just hoping the world will think we’re cool too, you know, just like you guys!

Our kids meet the real world and our “look, we’re cool like you” posing is mocked. In our effort to be “like them” we’ve become less of who we actually are. The middle-aged pastor trying to look like his 20-something audience isn’t relevant. Dress him up in skinny jeans and hand him a latte, it doesn’t matter. It’s not relevant, It’s comically cliché. The minute you aim to be “authentic”, you’re no longer authentic!

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9. They never attended church to begin with:

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From a Noah’s Ark themed nursery, to jumbotron summer-campish kids church, to pizza parties and rock concerts, many evangelical youth have been coddled in a not-quite-church, but not-quite-world hothouse. They’ve never sat on a pew between a set of new parents with a fussy baby and a senior citizen on an oxygen tank. They don’t see the full timeline of the gospel for every season of life. Instead, we’ve dumbed down the message, pumped up the volume and act surprised when…

8. They get smart:

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It’s not that our students “got smarter” when they left home, rather someone actually treated them as intelligent. Rather than dumbing down the message, the agnostics and atheists treat our youth as intelligent and challenge their intellect with “deep thoughts” of question and doubt. Many of these “doubts” have been answered, in great depth, over the centuries of our faith. However….

7. You sent them out unarmed:

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Let’s just be honest, most of our churches are sending youth into the world embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. How could we not? We’ve jettisoned catechesis, sold them on “deeds not creeds” and encouraged them to start the quest to find “God’s plan for their life”. Yes, I know your church has a “What we believe” page, but is that actually being taught and reinforced from the pulpit? I’ve met evangelical church leaders (“Pastors”) who didn’t know the difference between justification and sanctification. I’ve met megachurch board members who didn’t understand the atonement. When we chose leaders based upon their ability to draw and lead rather than to accurately teach the faith? Well, we don’t teach the faith. Surprised? And instead of the orthodox, historic faith…..

6. You gave them hand-me-downs

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You’ve tried your best to pass along the internal/subjective faith that you “feel”. You really, really, really want them to “feel” it too. But we’ve never been called to evangelize our feelings. You can’t hand down this type of subjective faith. With nothing solid to hang their faith upon, with no historic creed to tie them to centuries of history, without the physical elements of bread, wine, and water, their faith is in their subjective feelings, and when faced with other ways to “feel” uplifted at college, the church loses out to things with much greater appeal to our human nature. And they find it in…

5. Community

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Have you noticed this word is *everywhere* in the church since the seeker-sensitive and church growth movements came onto the scene? (There’s a reason and a driving philosophy behind it which is outside of the scope of this blog.) When our kids leave home, they leave the manufactured community they’ve lived in for nearly their entire life. With their faith as something they “do” in community, they soon find that they can experience this “life change” and “life improvement” in “community” in many different contexts. Mix this with a subjective, pragmatic faith and the 100th pizza party at the local big-box church doesn’t compete against the easier, more naturally appealing choices in other “communities”. So, they left the church and….

4. They found better feelings:

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Rather than an external, objective, historical faith, we’ve given our youth an internal, subjective faith. The evangelical church isn’t catechizing or teaching our kids the fundamentals of the faith, we’re simply encouraging them to “be nice” and “love Jesus”. When they leave home, they realize that they can be “spiritually fulfilled” and get the same subjective self-improvement principles (and warm-fuzzies) from the latest life-coach or from spending time with friends or volunteering at a shelter. And they can be truly authentic, and they jump at the chance because…

3. They got tired of pretending:

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In the “best life now”, “Every day a Friday” world of evangelicals, there’s little room for depression, or struggle, or doubt. Turn that frown upside down, or move along. Kids who are fed a stead diet of sermons aimed at removing anything (or anyone) who doesn’t pragmatically serve “God’s great plan for your life” has forced them to smile and, as the old song encouraged them be “hap-hap-happy all the time”. Our kids are smart, often much smarter than we give them credit for. So they trumpet the message I hear a lot from these kids. “The church is full of hypocrites”. Why? Even though they have never been given the categories of law and gospel…

2. They know the truth:

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They can’t do it. They know it. All that “be nice” moralism they’ve been taught? The bible has a word for it: Law. And that’s what we’ve fed them, undiluted, since we dropped them off at the Noah’s Ark playland: Do/Don’t Do. As they get older it becomes “Good Kids do/don’t” and as adults “Do this for a better life”. The gospel appears briefly as another “do” to “get saved.” But their diet is Law, and scripture tells us that the law condemns us. So that smiling, upbeat “Love God and Love People” vision statement? Yeah, you’ve just condemned the youth with it. Nice, huh? They either think that they’re “good people” since they don’t “do” any of the stuff their denomination teaches against (drink, smoke, dance, watch R rated movies), or they realize that they don’t meet Jesus own words of what is required. There’s no rest in this law, only a treadmill of works they know they aren’t able to meet. So, either way, they walk away from the church because…

1. They don’t need it:

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Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community… you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be “relevant” to them would be a comical cliché if the effect weren’t so devastating. As we jettisoned the gospel, our students are never hit with the full impact of the law, their sin before God, and their desperate need for the atoning work of Christ. Now THAT is relevant, THAT is authentic, and THAT is something the world cannot offer.

We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of glory. This new gospel saves no one. Our kids can check all of these boxes with any manner of self-help, life-coach, or simply self-designed spiritualism… and they can do it more pragmatically successfully, and in more relevant community. They leave because given the choice, with the very message we’ve taught them, it’s the smarter choice.

Our kids leave because we have failed to deliver to them the faith “delivered once for all” to the church. I wish it wasn’t a given, but when I present law and gospel to these kids, the response is the same every time: “I’ve never heard that.” I’m not against entertaining our youth, or even jumbotrons, or pizza parties (though I probably am against middle aged guys trying to wear skinny jeans to be “relevant).. it’s just that the one thing, the MAIN thing we’ve been tasked with? We’re failing. We’ve failed God and we’ve failed our kids. Don’t let another kid walk out the door without being confronted with the full weight of the law, and the full freedom in the gospel.



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995 comments on “Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church
  1. […] is a post by Marc Solas getting shared in my social networks today that I found interesting. It analyzes the phenomenon of […]

  2. You have hit the nail on the head!

    • MommaB says:

      From the blog: “Have you noticed this word is *everywhere* in the church since the seeker-sensitive and church growth movements came onto the scene? (There’s a reason and a driving philosophy behind it which is outside of the scope of this blog.)” I’d be interested in the author of the blog expounding on this idea. We go to a church “with black walls” (not my favorite) and it’s one of the things that irritates me, but seriously am I going to “leave the church” because I dislike the color of the walls. I spoke my reservations about the black walls when they were painted and leadership blew off my concerns. I’d really like to read what you know of the driving philosophy behind the “community” church growth “movement”.

      • One Eyed Jack says:


        “I started questioning things. What is it that I really believe? I never doubted that there is a God or that Jesus died for my sins.”

        Then you never considered the most important question, did you?

      • I’ll go with #8. The church claims to know the truth but knows nothing about its truth. Philosophy 101, Christian history and textual criticism took me away from the faith. And yeah, that all happened while I was studying in a university for becoming a minister.

      • marc5solas says:

        Strange language here. “the truth” and “its truth”. Can you elaborate? What, specifically in textual criticism took you way from the faith?

      • Mark says:

        MommaB, My wife and I visited a church that had dark grey walls and we left depressed. I have found that like food, individuals can have different sensitivities to beauty and art within a church, or the lack thereof.

        Marc, thank you so much for this entry. As a youth pastor who always seemed to to things the “old way,” I am glad to be validated. My biggest battle with the youth, as this entry indicates, was not what the kids were up to, but what their parents failed to instill. So many parents leave the evangelism of their children to the church, and let them do whatever the rest of the week. Every measure of who we are (good and bad), starts in the childhood home.

    • Marco Gracin says:

      Good points, and all quite valid. But the author missed an important point. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing the author is young himself… perhaps as yet unmarried, but definitely hasn’t had kids yet. I say this because he left out a key observation. We as fallen creatures are rebellious – even as disciples of Christ. When we graduate high school, even as faithful sons and daughters, there is a strong inclination to reject what we have been encouraged to believe regardless of its merits… i.e. rebellion. We reject the faith of our fathers (and mothers) because we can, and because it feeds our pride. We enter the great halls of learning at universities that are filled with God-hating atheist professors. Their agendas are worn on their sleeves as they arrogantly attack Christianity. The reading assignments are from books written by authors of the same ilk. Absent the God-fearing parental influence, these authority figures belittle and disparage orthodox Christianity, and the impressionable mind latches onto these ideas. Why? It “feels” like original thinking is occurring. The reality is, this is not original thinking either. But it is a time when young people feel the need to define themselves apart from family – rebellion. Unfortunately, our young people are not equipped to do battle with rabid non-believers who are in positions of greater authority. The young person who has only attended church out of obligation to obey parental authority readily abandons any claim to faith in Christ for the newer, more exciting position of skeptic and non-believer. Only a child who has been truly born-again, who has seen the squalor of his/her own soul, who has truly embraced the Gospel, and who has been exposed to opportunities to share his/her testimony, and to interact with non-believers outside the Church is equipped to stand before such brutality and come away unscathed. The Church is indeed flawed, and because of this, our young people will fall. But the responsibility also lies with parents (who also represent the Church) and our primary schools. Don’t even get me started on public schools – what a disgrace. In scarcely 3 generations we went from teaching from the Bible in public schools to restricting it to a dusty shelf in the library, if it exists at all. Satan has done his job well by changing our culture to derail young impressionable people at a time when they are most likely to rebel.

      • Jason Norem says:

        This kind of thinking is such a good example of what many are trying to escape in the church. For example you wrote, “We enter the great halls of learning at universities that are filled with God-hating atheist professors. Their agendas are worn on their sleeves as they arrogantly attack Christianity.”

        First of all, how can an atheist hate something he or he does not believe in? Anyone who hates God is by definition NOT an atheist.

        Second of all, this thinking just spreads the unfounded mistrust and fear-mongering regarding the world of academia. Students are losing their faith during their college years, so Christians all too often chalk it up to “God-hating professors and universities” who are conspiring to brainwash young minds. In reality, universities are filled with professors who value learning. If that learning doesn’t coincide with Christian ideals every step of the way, it gets thrown into the “God-hating” bin and tossed in the trash by fundamentalists.

        There is nothing wrong with setting out to discover new things in life, void of religious bias filtering every piece of information one comes across.

      • marc5solas says:

        Your comment is full of incorrect assumptions: I’m not young (I’m in my 40’s), my wife and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this year, and I have 3 wonderful children. While the point you bring up is “left out” of the scope of this brief article, it’s certainly not “left out” as a cause (as I’ve written in several comment responses and spoke of in the Pilgrim Radio interview which is posted on this blog).

        I think if you’ll take the time to look at the body of work (the brief article, the radio interview, and the detailed answers to questions) you’ll see that we don’t disagree here.

        The brevity required in this format will always be a limiting factor and it’s far too easy to assume that items not covered are not considered factors rather than simply being outside the scope of the content.


      • Lucas says:

        Here are the issues i have with christianity as a recently “fallen away” christian. First of all, there are billions of people on Earth that dont follow the Christian belief because they are born in a country where christianity is not the major belief. Who are we to say that all of these people are WRONG? i know that if i were born in india, the chances of me following Christianity as opposed to Hinduism would be slim to none. Also, if god gives us free will and we are “created in his image” then surely when we are created he already knows the decisions that we will make. so if he created me with the image of a murderer and i go out and murder people, does that mean i am morally at fault and that i will be sent to hell as punishment? As a psychology student, i have learned alot about the “nature vs nurture” debate and it is believed pretty much all around that a person’s personality is dictated but a combination of their genes and their environment. It has been shown in many studies that someone with violent parents is more likely to be a violent adult even if they are not raised by their parents. Say that there is a person whose mother and father are both in prison for murder so they are sent to a foster home. In this foster home their foster father abuses them. This child now has nature and nurture working against him and the chances of him becoming a violent adult are extremely high. If this child grows to kill someone, is he really morally responsible when GOD PUT HIM IN THIS POSITION?

        i know this post is not very well thought out and it jumps around alot but i have 2 minutes before class so its a tad rushed.

      • marc5solas says:


        These are certainly among the most common issues. I’ll be writing on this particular issue over the next couple of weeks (probably next week).
        I will ask, though, that after you had these doubts based on what you wrote above, did you give the church a fair chance to respond to them? They’re as old as the faith itself, and they’ve been addressed in great depth over the years. This argument, then would be against any omnipotent creator.


    • Corrie says:


    • Emily says:

      Hit the nail on the head for me. I love traditional church but have always hated the “contemporary” service, and since it’s hard to find traditional services with anyone under 60, I don’t feel like I belong. 26 – F – Ga – Methodist.

      • Jenny says:

        I definitely agree with this. I hate going to church and feeling like I’m walking into something that has been artificially created to appeal to me. even many of the songs seem empty–how often are they about how we feel and how we relate to God’s goodness and about inciting an emotional reaction in us?? I love songs and hymns where the lyrics are taken from scripture, reflecting back on God rather than ourselves. After all, that’s what the church should be filling our minds with—sola scriptura, scripture alone. There really isn’t a place for me in most churches anymore, as a single 20-something who is no longer part of a youth group or college ministry, but who also hasn’t jumped directly into marriage and child-rearing (and the community that goes with it). I once tried to go to a singles ministry at a large local church, and was surprised to find that the only other attendees were all middle-aged and with a different outlook and in a much different season of life than myself. After that experience, I didn’t try again.

        To be honest though, I make all these excuses, and I can certainly point to places in my life where I have been disillusioned with the church, but the single strongest reason I left was laziness–pure and simple. In this world, we all have the resources we need. If I had truly pursued it, I could have found what I was looking for somewhere (if not at a church service, perhaps even at a BSF or something??) but I didn’t make it a priority, I didn’t drag my sleepy self up on sunday mornings when my parents werent there to do it for me, and I didn’t put in place a net of accountability to keep me moving forward. And yknow, once you let yourself slip, sometimes you find yourself on a steep slope going down that takes a long time to climb back up. That’s what happened to me. But thank God for his Grace that provides a way out of even the deepest holes—even if it does take 10 years.

    • Leiana McFadden says:


    • Kenneth Boss says:

      You state early on the church has faied them and I don’t beleive this is true. We as parents have failed them in so many ways. We ley our children attend public schools where the agenda is not moraility but the exact opposite . They teach everything contrary to the word of God and don’t let His name even spoken. Can anyonr truthfully tell me we are better off in our public schools now without God in them at all?!!! We as parents no longer discipline our children in Biblical ways. We often are too busy with two jobs and let them do whatever they want and when they mess up we don’t correct them like God tells us to do. I agree we don’t make them going to church a priority either. Raise children up correctly and with God at the center of their very existence and see what happens with them when they become adults. My three boys were raised in the church and all still are involved in church worship and fellowship.

    • paul says:

      this is exactly, precisely it. kudos.

    • Michael says:

      We leave because we learn about the art of logic and reason. We learn about being rational and that faith is really believing without reason. We leave because we learn that we were forced to be irrational as children. We learn that “God works in mysterious ways” is the answer to every question a Christian cannot cogently answer. We make a choice between rationality and irrationality and the church is losing because logic is winning.

      • James says:

        If you understand faith to be “believing with reason,”you have an incorrect notion of the faith of Christianity. Willing to believe something not fully understand is perhaps one aspect of it, but this does not define faith in its totality. This kind of faith to which you refer is more of an epistemic faith, and it has no particular ties to Christianity. Anything we hold to be true without irrefutable epistemic evidence (which is most things in life) requires “faith” of this type. Again, this is not the kind of faith we Christians ascribe to (those of us who do not divorce faith and reason, that is). If you’re genuinely interested in discovering whether or not Christianity is inherently inconsistent, irrational, or unreasonable, I would highly recommend looking into Alvin Plantinga’s “Warranted Christian Belief.”

        Also, the “God works in mysterious ways” excuse to which you referred is known by the philosophic community as the “God of the Gaps” fallacy. Yes, we recognize that this is poor thinking (which is why reasonable Christians will not assert such claims).

      • Marco Gracin says:

        Dear Michael – obviously you’ve never read C.S. Lewis. Or, your particular church leaned on the “mysterious” crutch a bit too much. Dear boy, Christianity is not without it’s mysteries. But it is not without its rock solid logic as well. Great minds well steeped in logic have questioned the religion and come away believers. Case in point, Simon Greenleaf – a skeptic and an attorney. He investigated the claims of Christianity at length and came away as a believer. Take the time to read, “The Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice” published in 1846. You will swiftly abandon your position that to leave the Church is to leave an irrational worldview. Faith in Christ is logic that defies the “wisdom” of men.

      • marc5solas says:


        Can you give me some of the logical and rational reasons which caused you to leave the faith? I ask because I’m cataloguing them for a series of articles. What about Christianity do you feel forced you to be irrational? What problems were presented that you were given the answer “God works in mysterious ways?” How do you answer those questions with your new worldview? And finally, how do you feel that Christianity is irrational and illogical causing them to “lose”?

        I appreciate your honesty and look forward to your response.


    • Mr.Feeny says:

      Wrong. We stopped going because we don’t HAVE to anymore. I dreadfully went to church every Sunday morning only because my parents forced me to. It’s a shame that half decide to stop thinking for themselves and go back after a decade :(

      • Aaron says:

        im sorry but you made it sound like going back to church was a bad thing? i think the sad part is that the gospel doesnt get through the lives of at least my generation anymore. it’s sad to see them leave in the first place, but going back isnt sad its more a relief that some actually came back. but still i get it, its like having a kid skip grade 6 and go back to school in grade 12. they lose that part of growing up with God.

      • Marco Gracin says:

        Dear Mr. Feeny – So you think attending church magically causes folks to stop thinking for themselves? And conversely, only those outside the church can think for themselves? And this is your reason for leaving the church? Wow. How many times have I heard that on humanist/atheist web blogs! Did you stop and think for yourself before acquiring this worldview? Or did it just appeal to your shallow intelect? Oh yeah, and, “All Christians are required to check their brains at the door of the sanctuary.” That is probably part of your perspective on Christendom too. Why don’t you investigate the Truth of Jesus Christ for yourself?

      • MommaP says:

        Dear Mr. Feeny, I’m sorry your parents made you go to a church that never let you know the “true” Gospel and introduced you to authentic christians and christianity. If they had… would still be attending because it would be relevant and exciting and you would WANT to go. Unfortunately, there are very few churches today that actually fit this criteria, I am one of the former church goers that is still looking for one of these churches….I wish you all the best and hope that you can find a place to “soar” and find the true gospel of Christ being practiced and preached.

      • wdjoachim says:

        To me it all gets down to faith to believe. I left the church when I left for college. I did not have the faith to believe until I was allowed to wander in the wilderness for forty years. As a teenager asking questions of my Pastor, only to receive the following each time, “you will just have to believe on that on faith.” As a youth, I did not have that faith. I nor no one else can give you the faith to believe, only Holy Spirit. I have lived without faith for the first 40 years
        of my life. I have lived by faith the past 31 years of my life. I know which one I favor.

      • Andrew says:

        I think what Mr. Feeny is saying is that at many churches you are given a church approved response to the realities of the world -a view that is outside of what a person might naturally come to as an answer for questions in life. Some people need that, and some people just want it and enjoy the reinforcement of their views in context of world events. When a person decides that too often the suggested response of the church is in conflict with how they feel – it feels like you are being told what to think. This is where a lot of people who do not go to church feel that those who do are not entirely thinking for themselves. – Faith is hard to defend because by definition faith is unprovable (otherwise it would be called facts). Trying to sell “faith” as “facts” is the wrong approach because it is a lie. – What I am saying is, communicate the things about your faith that make it true for you, and you will enjoy the people who come along side you. If you cannot do that – then you are telling people what to think; proving Mr. Feeny right every time you do it.

      • marc5solas says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful response. So, when you decided to stop going to church you thought for yourself. When others returned to church, they stopped thinking for themselves? Huh.

      • Topanga says:

        You say “wrong”, but then the rest of your comment perfectly validates the entire article. You stopped going because the church did nothing to show you the beautiful Truth that would entice you to stay.

      • Maybe they really started thinking for themselves…and realized that the world with its religion of materialism, self-works and self-discovery just didn’t cut it anymore. Maybe they returned to the answer, the only answer that makes sense. That’s not a shame. That’s a good thing.

      • Sarah says:

        I agree with Mr Feeny’s comment, but would not say that the 50% who started going again after a decade stopped thinking for themselves. I am in that 50%. I was raised in a very strict household. I mean over the top strict where things like my father’s belief that women shouldn’t vote or go to college were twisted in with what I was taught was God’s will and what the Bible taught. We went to church every Sunday, no exceptions. We were taught to believe everything without question. To do so would be heresy and you would risk condemning your soul to Hell. When I left my parents’ house and I was allowed to have a choice for the first time, I stopped going to church. I started questioning things. What is it that I really believe? I never doubted that there is a God or that Jesus died for my sins. The basics I believed, but I started questioning so many other things. In my experience, so many Christians have a “it’s my way or the highway” type of attitude. Zero tolerance for other beliefs or ways of thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Christians should take a more relaxed stance on their faith with the attitude of “worship whatever god makes you happy”. I’m talking about Baptists thinking all Catholics are going to Hell or the churchgoer that cloaks themselves in hypocrisy, condemning others for their actions. When a young adult gets to the point in life where they can actually start thinking for themselves and starts to question things, how can we expect them to continue to go to church in an environment that says if you don’t believe exactly what we believe, down to the last detail, you’re going to Hell. So it isn’t that it takes a decade for people to stop thinking for themselves and go back to church. Maybe it is that it takes a decade for people to reconcile what they truly believe.

      • marc5solas says:

        Very well said!

      • Louise says:

        My parents took me to church all my life. Sometimes there were very few young people attending our church but I always loved it and now at age 81 I still love going to church. Ours is a large church with lots of teens and college students. Maybe you would find it different in another.

      • ryan says:

        Our eyes opened up. When we realized that the majority of so called “Christ Like” individuals acted no different than the average modern day man. Whats the point?

        Its obvious the whole thing is fake for the majority. Christians put almost everything before God. Country-Family-Self-Money etc.

        I will never understand why so many Christians believe it is acceptable to murder a man-whether justified or not. Through war-death penalty. So many put their emotions before God 100% of the time,

        I studied a lot of theology in school. How is it that i can come to the conclusion from the new covenant with man-and Christs living example that Christians should not be so tied up in the worlds affairs on all fronts? How can a 22 year old draw this conclusion yet “devote” Christians cannot?

        If God is number one-you have nothing to fear. Not even death itself. Yet you all are so afraid of even the slightest thing. Gay marriage for example-or abortion. So many refuse to accept it for what it is in America instead you fight it-not with love-but with or what is perceived as anger and retribution. And the sad part-the entire world see it.

        As i recall-Christ did not concern himself with the politics of the day-He was more about actions. He did not vote to end hatred against the gentiles-he instead extended a hand.

        This religious political Christianity fad is so disgusting to me.You drag Christs name in the dirt and spit on his name daily. I know very few individuals who make Christ #1 in their life, And I admire these people for the way they love and how they live.

        Who are you to judge another man and not have walked in his shoes?

      • spidy says:

        That is exactly what was my case, I had the freedom to choose at 18 to go to church or not. I tried going back a few times, but didn’t get anything out of it, got too much of a wild side in me!

      • sue vanb says:

        your parents as we, have set a base for our kids. in hopes one day they do their own thinking and find their way back, if they so choose. i dont think its fair for you to assume that 1/2 decided to stop thinking for themselves. i believe it all has to do with maturity, and feeling the need for something more in their lives. your church family can fill a void in your life that you didnt know existed. and when you leave church feeling whole, you know something has reached inside you.

      • or perhaps “started ” thinking for themselves and returned by free will….????

    • Norma Sharkey says:

      Excellent article! I, too, am tired of the watered-down message evangelicals are feeding their children; that or Lord is a “comfy couch”, rather than the Rock of Ages; the continuous prattle about Jesus as a “personal Savior”, rather than the Creator and Lord of the universe. I’ve summed it up as “the Me-Generation got religion”.

    • GigiX2 says:

      My kids always felt rejected & picked on by the popular kids in the youth group at the church we attended. I know my children weren’t perfect, but some unconditional Christlike love may have spared us all years of grief after high school. I agree, if our church would have had the youth attend services with the parents things would’ve been better. Many times the youth services are led by older teens,that cannot be expected to handle that type of authority.
      By God’s loving mercy and grace all three of my grown children are serving Jesus today.

      • Connie says:

        I totally agree that–if not supervised properly–the youth groups can become just as much of a cliche environment as the public schools. If the youth are not taught the love that Christ displayed and encouraged to model that, youth groups can become just as depressing for the youth. Why expose yourself to that if it is not a law to go. If that is the case, I’d rather hear the same sermon with my children and talk about it at the Sunday table with them.

      • Paul was speaking to Timothy. A young leader in the church at Ephesus.

      • marc5solas says:

        Specifically, Timothy was a Pastor. This is the book in which Paul writes to Pastor Timothy and lays out the requirements for pastors. To use this book and these verses in particular to encourage the generic “we” of youth to engage is outside the authors intent. Not trying to say youth shouldn’t be involved, but to the point of pastoral duties, it is not only not in the context, but they would be specifically excluded by the text itself.

      • shane says:

        Sounds like any arguments against church are just that… against church, not against Christ. It is irresponsible of anyone to argue against an ideology simply because of the inability of it’s followers to truly live out their beliefs. Consider what Jesus taught and lived out, if you can accept that, then that’s your first step to becoming a Christian (not a Baptist or Methodist, or Catholic, or whatever). I hate that so many in our faith don’t live out what they profess to believe, or they do live out beliefs that don’t really jive with Christianity. In all things love…

      • 1 Timothy 4:12-13
        New International Version

        12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

        I firmly believe that one of the reasons that youth leave the church is because of the attitude that resonates with “older teens not being expected to handle authority.” Many parents especially fall victim to this. In Christ, we have divine authority, and are charged by Paul to set an example.

      • marc5solas says:

        Who is “you” in verse 12?

    • Paul Collier says:

      you leave a lot unsaid but I think you managed to at least shadow most of the major false teachings that are currently infecting our congregations and our personal walks with God- put God and the cross in the center- come to love Him- share His love with others, in word and deed- especially with your Jerusalem, your children

  3. Dan Waggoner says:

    I have worked with young people since attending Moody Bible in 1964. Young people are savvy and we need to take them in a serious vein. I am with Youth Ministry International and not too long ago we had a meeting in Slovakia with over 70 pastors. One of the first questions we ask them is “what does your church do to attract and keep young people involved?” The majority said they did NOTHING AT ALL and stuck with the traditional methods of songs and worship service. We told them they must change their METHODS but never change the MESSAGE as times change and we need to adapt or die.
    Young people have tons of talent and ideas and we fail to allow them to TAKE OVER A SERVICE or at least be heard. Jeremiah said ” But I am but a child” and the Lord declared that HE would give Jer the words and wisdom if he allowed him too? The church in America is boring to the average teen but there are a few seeing that they need to incorporate different methods in order to attract and keep the younger generation involved. I am never for watering down the TRUTH ever but there are many different ways in which we can creatively present the Living Gospel and show the vigor and vitality and the amazing LOVE and JOY in Christ.

    • Nightingale says:

      The “relevant” church never starts out changing the message, but it gets changed in the end. Times have changed? Adapt or die? Really? Wasn’t it Solomon who said there is nothing new under the sun? We are still the same selfish, stiff-necked people described in the Bible: same people, different toys. Let children take over a service? I don’t think so. Let them earn a place in church leadership though study and work. If a kid wants to be a doctor, but we don’t just throw him in a medical clinic. He works hard in medical school, and earns that right. American youth are, for the most part, pampered, undisciplined, and lazy. And that I have seen with my own eyes in the public school system, and even in some Christian schools.

      I’ve also been to the “big box” churches, and they are failing. One huge church I attended for 5 years hired a new pastor, who told the faithful that studies show the odds of people over the age of 18 accepting the Lord were slim to none. Therefore our church was going to focus on the youth, and they don’t like hymns or organs, so out with that and in with praise bands. His parting shot was: “And if you don’t like it, you can leave.” The church was gone within 2 years. And this was a church that had 3 services on Sunday, with 1000 people per service.

      The basic tactic of these new and improved churches is to “sell” the Gospel. Well, concepts like self-denial or suffering are a hard-sell, but they are the reality of the Christian walk, and life on Earth. No wonder people get disillusioned when they struggle with death, disease, and despair, but are told that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.’

      • countlessnine says:

        “The “relevant” church never starts out changing the message, but it gets changed in the end.” Be careful with absolutes because this statement is not accurate for all churches. The inherent problem is that people are fallible. The only safeguard against this is to constantly remind oneself to stay true to the real message of the gospel. Simply because most people fail to keep the message in tact does not mean that a different method was at fault for the change in method but the people’s heart. The Israelites are a good example of this. Does God really care that He is worshiped in a temple, church, field, or mountain? No, because if the heart is misplaced it doesn’t matter how or what method is used.

        The Solomon reference does not mean that cultures and times don’t change but rather that anything new comes with the same age old enticements which I believe are described in 1 John 2:16 as “…the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…” . We need to remember that Paul shared the gospel using the people’s own culture in Acts 17:16-34 on Mars Hill and how Paul said he would “become all things to all people” in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Isn’t he being seeker sensitive? Changing the method? Aren’t we supposed to find ways to see where people are in their life and find ways to bring the gospel message to them in ways they can understand? You don’t have to change the actual message, just use ideas and concepts they can relate to like Paul did in Athens. This is honestly no different than what many translation teams use to translate the Bible into other languages but we have no problem with that. I think we get hung up on so many churches that do drift to a new gospel that we swing the exact opposite way and say, “since all new methods I have seen have changed the gospel then all different methods must be bad.” How I approach sharing the gospel to a Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, and so on are going to vary based on whatever objections or questions the individual has. I’m not changing the fact that Jesus is the only way to obtain salvation (John 14:6) but trying to find out how to convey that same truth about God to that specific individual. If you do not deal with underlying hangups a Muslim has about Christ not really being crucified then are you really presenting the message well? Also, we are ignoring the obvious question: What is the “Message” that everyone keeps referring to? I know we all don’t share the gospel the same way and I have heard and seen several different ways that keep the message, itself, in tact while changing the way it was delivered (video, audio, blog, etc). Can we honestly say our method of sharing the gospel or worshiping God hasn’t changed in 2,000 years? Let’s be reasonable. I believe it all comes down to where our emphasis lies. If our intent is to reach as many people with the gospel as we can then we might incorporate more methods to that end. However, if we put more emphasis on the methods rather than the gospel itself then we are going astray. I hope this makes sense.

        Second, I don’t think people are saying to have children take over the service and do whatever they want. I think the real point is that many churches don’t allow youth to serve in any capacity simply because they are young and inexperienced. We are implying to youth that they are incapable and unable to serve in the church instead of allowing them to come along side and show them how to serve. We talk about “earning a place” but give them no opportunity to do so. I think we have high expectations for leadership, do not disciple and teach the youth to become leaders, then question why people are not ready to lead. The biggest quality I can emphasize in any spiritual leader is to teach others how to become leaders in their own life and be active in serving God. We need to be careful not to over qualify the ability to serve in church. Being extreme in either direction has terrible consequences.

      • Bill Samuel says:

        Some wisdom here. I am reminded of the old Quaker story about the days of persecution there was a meeting (church) in which all the adults had been imprisoned. The children kept up the meeting faithfully every week. We should not underestimate the ability of the Spirit of Christ to reach children. And perhaps we should question the modern practice (a departure from most of the history of the church) of age segregation on Sunday morning. I know I was very upset in my youth at being treated as a second class citizen and ushered out of the worship.

      • Michael Keays says:

        Bill: I really like your comment. When I was in 8th grade and high school, I went to church with my parents and listened to our pastor deliver sermons meant for adults. I learned a lot from those sermons. On Sunday evenings, I went to youth group and learned a lot from those, too. Now, I bring our high-school-aged son to church with my wife and me. I don’t see why we should tell our young people, “You go there, while we go here.” If what we are being told as adults is important to us, why shouldn’t we let our children hear it. It’s good for children to hear about the moral and other challenges their parents are facing, and how to deal with it. They appreciate being treated like adults and brought into the loop, and it is good for them to see how messed up the world is, and how important faith is in dealing with that world. Very good post. Thank you!

      • AGYouth says:

        Don’t let the children take over a service? You do understand the power of our God right? If God wants to use the children, who are we to say no?

      • marc5solas says:

        Take over in what regard? Would any of these children meet the qualifications to lead from the pastoral epistles?

      • captainsakonna says:

        @Marc5solas Maybe they would. I don’t recall a certain physical age being a prerequisite for the bestowing of spiritual gifts and maturity. “Kids” is a culture-relative category anyway. At the time of Christ, weren’t young people considered adults years sooner than they are today?

      • marc5solas says:

        Can you, for the sake of discussion, list the qualifications for preaching in The pastor epistles?

      • captainsakonna says:

        It’s a long list, and I’d rather not go to the trouble, especially since any interested person can go look at 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and see for themselves. How about you tell me which of the qualifications you think could not be met by “children,” as well as how you define “children,” and we’ll go from there.

      • marc5solas says:

        Are there any you feel someone under 18 would meet? Any they wouldn’t?

      • captainsakonna says:

        Looking at the list, I think someone under 18 could meet all of them. The only ones that seem to require a little discussion are the ones that cover being faithful to one wife and managing one’s children well, etc. I think those should be read as “the church leader handles his wife and children properly *if he has them.*” Assuming that he MUST have a family would exclude single pastors of any age, including Paul the Apostle himself.

      • Mandi says:

        Gosh, I’m glad I wasn’t a youth at your church Nightingale. Better yet I’m extremely glad my kids aren’t either. Talk about crushing young people. Our kids are what “we” make them! Speak life, not death!!

      • Eliz says:

        COUNTLESSNINE: I totally get where you are coming from but when you talk about the Paul example and preaching on Mars Hill and being contextual in how the gospel is presented is important – however, many of hte things being done in churches today to retain youth have nothing to do with actually making the message understandable to someone with a different cultural construct. What’s being done is anything you can think of to make church “fun” (and church should be fun sometimes) but “fun” is not necessary to understand the gospel and how important it is. If a kid/teenager truly understands and accepts teh gospel for what it is and wants to follow truly follow christ, and they feel supported by friends and leaders at church, it wont matter if there are tons of fun activities or an actual band to worship to. They will be there because they want to live it out and feel they are being built up and lifted up and grwoing in their faith. I don’t understand the whole concept of “keeping the kids interested” method becuase if they are truly believers and feel they are being built up in their faith, they will stay interested. It’s inherent in their belief to stay interested. If they aren’t interested and only come for fun activities and friends, then they do walk away later. At teh time, it seems to the leaders that the kids have genuine faithe becuase they show up to everything- but that doesn’t mean anything. I went to a very seeker sensitive church as a teenager (middle school) and almost NO one from that group is a believer in christ today. But yet they were at all the camps and all the events… it’s fine to try to be relevant to kids these days but that means using examples from modern day to explain things and maybe even having a modern worship band (music is important to a lot of kids). But as I said before, a lot of things churches are doing now have nothing to do with making the gospel understandable – they have to do with trying to retain kids in attendance. And as I said, attendance has nothing to do with actual true belief or repentance. Anyway, valid points from you and I understand totally what you mean, I guess teh idea is to take the middle ground when it comes to retaining youth but do it without compromsiing truth. Get the kids to be IN the word consistently and very very often, get them to understand teh whole counsel of gods word, not just bits and pieces, and to be a support to htem, they need to also have an encounter with God himself, which is not somethine we can control at all, but encourage them to communicate with God on their own, daily and read their bibles. If those things match up, and tehy really believe. Kids just want someone to be real with them and show them what it looks like to really follow christ. A struggle for us all, as you can tell by these myriad comments and opinions. Countlessnine, ilove what you said about the emphasis. if it’s too much focused onthe method, then we have gone astray. God bless you all.

      • catdrags says:

        Nightingale…what do you mean by “big box” church? …I don’t mean to sound uninformed but I was wondering what that means…I never heard that….thx <3

      • Sam Medina says:

        You hit the nail on the head… unfortunately those who would preach a pure gospel will fid themselves preaching to an empty room ;)

      • Joyce Henderson says:

        AMEN to you, Nightingale! Today’s kids are looking for rules, regulations and exactly what they can and cannot do. I think that’s called “boundaries”. And you are correct in we have pampered these kids into being lazy, self centered, dependent with PARENTS as the enablers.

        AMEN to this entire writing!!!!!!! I am so sick of going to church and finding pastors that don’t want to offend anyone. (cough, cough) I went to a Fundamental Independent Baptist Church just last Sunday…..there were a group of young kids that stood and recited scripture they had learned. That was awesome. They sang a song. That was awesome. Some of us said a hearty AMEN and clapped for them. Then the pastor’s son did an offratory on the piano that was awesome, he’s a 16 year old kid that’s an espiring pianist. Some of us said AMEN and clapped. The pastor stepped in the pulpit and point blank announced he wanted NO MORE CLAPPING during service. Really? I gathered my things and left with NO INTENT OF RETURNING.

        I am soooooo sick of “holier than thou” so called Christian that wouldn’t know God had impressed on them to “do” something than if He would be standing in front of them verbally instructing. I am 62 years old, have played piano for services since I was 11, etc., etc., etc. and REFUSE to go to these “love everybody, do as you please” churches.

        And to find someone that “knows” how to lead another to the Lord???? Really????? Does anyone know what the Roman’s Road is anymore????? Nope! We’re too busy scheduling parties and games………UGH, I’m sick of “churches” and pastors in jeans and t-skirts! You read that right…… SKIRTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Please noitfy me if you plan on starting a church anywhere in the Jefferson City area…….I’d like to attend!!!!!!!!

      • DAVE says:

        Right on the money!! Great reply. We live in a TAKER CULTURE today. Teach the young how we give to God. Our churches have become places to come and get something for free. We have work ahead of us for sure….To turn this mess back around!

      • Ryan says:

        I think part of the problem is that churches have become so focused on reaching the lost who happen to come in the doors of the church and hardly pay attention to the spiritual needs of the believers. The church gathering is supposed to be for the building up of the church in spiritual maturity, learning and applying the Scriptures, etc. (Eph. 4:15-16). Then the body is to disperse into the world to reach the lost… yet most churches try to attract the lost to the church building, and the believers end up bored and don’t grow much because the sermons are aimed at “seekers” and “doubters,” or at least, new believers. I’m speaking in generalities, every church is different. The other main problem is that churches are centered around a preacher, worship bands, programs, etc. when they should be focused on things like group interaction involving study, discussion, teaching, prayer, praise, discipline, etc. The church is supposed to be a family with participants, not a show with spectators.

      • Annette says:


      • ilnda says:

        Amen sister

      • Kwuam says:

        Although I agree with you on most points GOD DOES love ua and DOES have a wonderful plan fo rour lives. It says it all over the Bible. See we have to have a BALANCED view of how we approach the handing down of the sacred gospel. YOu need to understand that a “We’re older and know so much more than you” approach to youth is NOT going to get them the gospel. They need a balanced approach that both touches their intellect, challenges them, and touches their feelings as well. Remember youre talking about teenagers. NOT full blown adults. I was in youth group all my teen years and stayed in church and saved all the way up till the present. Ive been a part of the small “cozy” churches and Ive been a part of the “Big Box” churches as well. BOTH can be deadly to a growing spirit. But BOTH have wonderful potential to help grow Gods people. BALANCE people BALANCE. Jesus show tremendous balance in how he approached people. He didnt cooky cut his approach although the message remained rock solid. He talked to Peter differently than he talked to John…he approached the rich young ruler differently than he approached Nichodemus…

      • marc5solas says:

        Jesus did indeed approach the rich young ruler and Nicodemus differently, which is a perfect model for how we are to present law and gospel to those around us.

        To the rich young ruler who thought he was meeting the law, Jesus turned it up a notch to show him he wasn’t. You challenge those comfortable in their own ability or sin by increasing the law.

        To Nicodemus, Jesus gave grace. We are called to give grace to those broken by the law.

        The balance you are speaking of is found in the proper distinction between law and grace.


    • Revmsgadams says:

      This METHODS and MESSAGE teaching sounds very much like the STYLE and SUBSTANCE, or PRACTICE and DOCTRINE claim that is also made, namely this: “you can change the style without affecting the substance,” or “you can change the practice without affecting doctrine.” What we believe affects how we worship, and how we worship affects what we believe. The METHODS and MESSAGE paradigm creates a false dichotomy, making us believe that these can be two mutually exclusive groups. That would be like saying that you can have “truth” without “love” and vice-versa, which we know is impossible. Jesus is God’s “love” in flesh and blood, and Jesus is the way, the “truth” and the life. The reasons given on this post actually betray what you are saying in yours, since kids are being lost from Jesus’ Church, not because the Church is not changing, but because the Church is forgetting that her identity is in her Head alone, Jesus Christ the Lord.

      • voiceinwords says:

        how do you get the message across when this: is true?

      • captainsakonna says:

        If I were to take your argument to its logical conclusion, I’d have to say we should go back and worship as close to the way first-century Christians did as possible. Trying to hold up church methodology that only emerged a few decades ago as being essential to the Gospel is ridiculous — the METHODS of the church have already changed a great deal since it began, without destroying the MESSAGE. Nonetheless, in SOME limited cases you may be correct — our beliefs will affect the methods we use to reach others. Here’s the standard I’ll go by: if the Bible insists on a certain method, we use it. If the Bible prohibits a certain method, we don’t use it. If the Bible says nothing about it, anything goes and we do what works best to reach people.

      • marc5solas says:

        I’m not sure where we’re in disagreement here. ?

      • Joshua says:

        A major problem with the attitude of making the worship style more “relevant” is the tendency for evangelical services to be built around “reaching people”. Worship service and Christian fellowship should not be constantly brought down to the lowest common denominator. Christians are often saved, then quickly disenchanted because there is no culture of growth. I’m not agaist being an active witness, but the major reason evangelical Christianity is viewed as superficial is because much of it is!

      • I am thankful for this blog and the good discussion it is bringing up. I preach for a congregation that does believe and practice that our organizational structure and the worship assembly should operate as close to the manner it was in the first century. We sing a cappella, we take communion every Sunday, we baptize immediately for the forgiveness of sins instead of waiting for a special group ceremony, etc. Paul did seem to indicate that his inspired instructions to the churches at that time were applicable to all churches, and if worship is an activity primarily devoted to pleasing God I can’t find much argument for changing it to suite my own personal taste or style. As this blog suggests, the many changes that churches have gone through to make worship more appealing wind up dumbing down the concept of coming to God on his terms instead of creating a church that pleases me. Young people can and will find things in the world that please them more than any church can- so long as their concept of being pleased is based on a selfish mentality. Maturity in the faith brings about a change of heart that helps us understand we can dedicate ourselves to God and thus see the world and our place in it through totally different lenses, and I am pleased when I am seeking and doing God’s will. I’m afraid that as long as our church model is the “Americanized” version spoken of in the blog, it will be impossible to launch from that platform to a message of self-denial. There have been several comments here about the method changing the message, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. IF our approach is to create something the ‘audience’ LIKES we cannot turn 180 degrees and preach self-denial. So I feel compelled to continue taking a stand for ancient worship practices, as they foster the attitude of coming to God on his terms rather than mine… I’m curious about how others who do not worship in this fashion feel about these points??

    • Dan – I would remind you that whenever you change the method you are changing the message. The message of the gospel does not stand apart from the means by which we communicate the message. I believe with the author of this article that we have distorted the message of the gospel in our race to be relevant and reach the other world of young people.

      To give an example: Our churches will promote the value of community but then darken the sanctuary and bring the lights up on the “stage”. We do this so that people will be more free to express themselves in worship, but it also creates an atmosphere where worshippers pain and heartache are never noticed in the dark.

      • farmboy says:

        What about cultural differences? Is that changing the method? When you go to Uganda and they use drums and other instruments instead of the typical piano or organ of the reformed church? This is where I see a problem with your differences to Dan Waggoner’s comment…

      • marc5solas says:

        No issue there. We don’t read the texts form the original languages in our pulpits here, so some contextualization will occur. However,
        i’m saying that the problem is caused by underlying methodology (often pragmatism). The comment which stated that the second employee a church hires should be a marketing genius to “draw them” in? That’s the problem.

      • Nic Boyd says:

        Isn’t the method proclamation? If the gospel is accurately proclaimed by the elders does it matter if it is done on a stage or from a pulpit? Why not a pulpit in the center of the room like it was several hundred years ago? Will wearing robes help??

        I attend a church where the gospel of christ is the center of the service and the bible is exegeted verse by verse, the pastor has tattoos and does not wear a suit. While we sing the same hymns sung in many reformed churches we have a modern band perform the music and you would likely see some raise their hands during the singing.
        Not far away is another reformed church who adhere to the same creeds as we do and the gospel is faithfully proclaimed. They however are more traditional in style with organ only and suits being the common dress for the men.

        I can go to either church and know that I will hear the law and gospel preached but they are both very different in style.

        I think that what most mean by method is actually style if the method is kept to the proclamation of the gospel.

      • PA says:

        While I’m completely against hokeyness (for the lack of a better word) that attempts to fake being cool, the fact is there are a myriad of different worship styles and there are people who prefer different versions, and those differences shouldn’t be maligned by people who prefer a more traditional form of worship.

        The method matters in order for folks to ever receive the message. In some traditional settings, I never even hear the message because the method is too traditional for me. In fact, it is an environment of more praise and worship style that I became saved in the first place — before then, I thought church was all about religion. It’s not.

        Your example is a nice example, but there isn’t anything wrong with a church where the lights are on too.

    • David says:

      Church is boring to the average adult too. It’s not supposed to be exciting or entertaining; it’s supposed to teach and preach the gospel, so that it can then be shared with the world. If that simple mission doesn’t motivate(excite) someone, then that person’s salvation is suspect. The church is not supposed to motivate; the Holy Spirit does that when He truly indwells.

      • Barry Pierce says:

        You say the church is not supposed to motivate — that’s the job of the Holy Spirit.

        Yes, the Holy Spirit does encourage believers. The Bible also teaches that God regularly uses people — especially the Church (the Body of Christ — His hands and feet) to accomplish His will. Paul wrote that he was eager to be with the believers in Rome so “that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Rom. 1:12). Time and again, we are told to encourage one another, love one another, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, carry one another’s burdens and many similar such imperatives.

        Indeed, Fleshing-Out Biblical truth in human lives and relationships is the indispensible partner to Proclaiming Biblical truth. They represent the two essential components of all true Christian ministry — Truth & Love (Eph 4:15).

        As every airplane needs two wings to fly, so also these two are both essential if we are to be as faithful and fruitful as possible in winning, teaching and encouraging others in the things of the Lord. Truth without love “is nothing” (1 Cor. 13). Love without truth becomes misguided and lawless.

        The “fleshing-out” aspect is one reason the Father sent the Son, causing the Word to become flesh and dwell among us. How much more are God’s people encouraged that the eternal Son put on flesh, walked with us and SHOWED us God — close-up and personal before sacrificing Himself to God for our sins. God forbade people from making images of Himself because He had His own image Bearer ready to “make Him known” — Jesus Christ.

        And as the Father sent Him, He also sends us — living proof of the Living God — the Word of God — again (to a leeser degree) made flesh — “a letter from Christ…written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3).

        That’s what we are to the lost. That’s what we are to one another. I read God’s word and am encouraged and motivated. I SEE God’s Word alive and powerful in my brother and I am encouraged and motivated to a whole new level and dimension.

        We are won, taught and motivated by truth & love.

      • Pat M. says:

        I think I understand what you’re saying, David. I agree that the Church does not/should not emulate the entertainment industry, however it should be a place of engaging, relevant, and stirring discourse, because the gospel message is all of those things and more. Gospel implications/applications touch every facet of our existence and address our deepest need.There is nothing boring about any of that.

        We will always have pew-sleepers in church services, but that fact doesn’t mean that it’s okay for a church service to be reduced to the simple and boring–or for a church to excuse itself from a skillful presentation of the gospel message. If Holy Spirit equips the church with gifts (and He does) we should not excuse ourselves from being both skillful and compelling in the use of those gifts (see 2Tim 2:15).

      • I don’t find learning the truths about God and man to be boring. I think THAT is the problem with most people – they don’t realize the magnitude of what is going on.

    • peprika says:

      The church belongs to Christ. Add Him to the mix and watch Him go to work. You shouldn’t need to change it up for the young to come. My pastor is young, but we are an old spirit church. I enjoy the uplifting sound of the organ and hymns. Why? Because it’s powerful and a worship unto God. And that is what we are there for: fellowship and God. Not for the music that sounds similar to the world’s or the look of the church. I don’t totally disagree with what you are saying, but I do know that God need’s to be the focus and He will work out the rest.

    • shane says:

      Letting a teenager “take over a service”? We must be careful that those who teach and lead are mature in their faith. What I find really interesting is the importance people put on making a “service” relevant. What it comes down to is the entertainment factor. If you consider the early church in Acts, they didn’t have so much of the “come sit and be entertained” vein. Study the word together, praise God together (in the language of the people) and LIVE out faith together. I’ve worked with teenagers for about 14 years and what seems most lacking is the ability to translate their faith into “REAL LIFE” application. Class rooms have never been the most effective way to teach faith. They must practice it!

    • bettybush says:

      You are soooo right, Dan Waggoner. I appreciate the way you verbalize your knowledge and feelings. Comes from knowing God! Thanks for speaking out!

    • Kenny says:

      I’m surprised at your age you are still drinking the kool-aid. The Bible says to train up a child in the way he should go not let him take-over and show. True; teens are very artistic with great ideas, however they are not looking for new methods or even excitement, they are crying out for the truth. When will we stop robbing our teens of their incredible intelligence. You have missed the mark. Its not about showing them the amazing love and joy of Christ (the devil has been shown that) they need the saving GRACE of Christ. Now with that said, Pastors and Youth pastors need to spend more time in prayer and study to make the Word come alive and shame if they don’t. When I started as youth pastor I purposed not to be like a teen dress like a teen or behave as a teen for one simple reason as I looked back over my life as a teen the adults that helped me the most were mature, not silly yet they were fun and loving. I was youth pastor for 16 years at the same church and for the past three years I have been the senior pastor of that same church. I have pastored 2 generations through youth ministry having never turned to new methods or worldliness. I preached the Word why because of Is.55:10-11 which says God’s word will not return void; Heb. 4:12 the word is quick and powerful sharper than any two-edged sword! Along with lots of prayer, study and being prepared. I did not even have power point! Those were the best years of my life and those teens (now adults) are now some of my best friends. I am so glad that I never turned to the worlds methods. GODS WORD STILL WORKS!!! One of my greatest privileges now as senior pastor is to look out and see those teens now as young adults in our congregation. And get this we have maintained 95% of them. Even when they come home form college or serving in the military they always come back. Why? Because the WORD WORKS! It’s not about methods!

    • Joji Kaden says:

      You have hit the nerve, I feel. It is time that the church took seriously the call of Christ to follow Him and follow Him carrying their own cross. They should teach their people that Christian life is not a bed of rose petals alone, the thorns will also be there.
      The church has to inculcate the family principle of parents and children worshiping together and facing the challenges of life together. Over emphasizing relevancy is dangerous because we are not called to be relevant to the world but obedient to the Lord. Many of the “cool” things of the day are an abomination to the Lord. It looks like the Lord has to change in order to be relevant to the youth of our day. It is we who need to change from our selfish ways and follow the Lord.

    • Robert Wood says:

      Sorry Dan, you can’t take a promise God made to Jeremiah and make it apply to EVERYONE. God made that promise to Jeremiah specifically because He had called him to be a PROPHET. Please limit your claims to those MANY promises that were meant for New Testament believers.

      I have a lot of interest in this topic right now. I have a sophomore in college and also a sophomore in high school. We attend a small Bible church that barely has enough youth to make a Sunday School class, much less a youth group. My daughter participates in youth activities at a large Baptist church in town (Wednesday evenings only). Years ago we tried to find another church we could attend where our children could benefit from more “age appropriate” training. Trouble was, we couldn’t find anywhere we thought the truth of the Bible was taken seriously. We wound up back at the Bible church and got busy serving. Now both our children know, believe and stand on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Who could ask for more?

      Incidentally, I’m now serving on the elder board of our church. Our pastor of 30 years will be retiring this fall and we’re beginning the process of finding a new pastor. What do you think my input will be concerning our new pastor’s direction for youth? “Just keep preaching the Word!”

      • justin Hammond says:

        I have a problem with the term “age appropriate” training. I can’t think of one single reference of children recieving different gospel training in the bible. The problem is that we give our children something less than the full gospel, because of their age. Jesus said let the little children come unto me, not let the little children listen to a shortened version of what I have to say.

    • captainfedex says:

      Let’s not talk about young people like they are a different sector of society, such as men or women or blacks or whites. Young people are developing into adults and adults were all young people at one time. Men need to hear what women have to say. Whites can benefit from knowing how it feels to be black, etc., but weren’t we adults all young people at one time? Don’t we realize how foolish we were at that age and can’t we see how we have gained some wisdom in our adulthood? If we still feel that we were slighted as young people by not having greater power/voice, then perhaps are we still young people who have not matured and gained adult wisdom?

      Children are adults in training. We need to hold adulthood up to them as the goal. Instead, we adults wish we could be children and we make life centered around youth. They see this in their parents/church leaders and that’s why they don’t want to be adults. If you view the young person as an apprentice-adult, then yes, you can give him/her some roles, as an apprentice, which is different than saying we need to be enlightened by the unique perspective of this unique people group.

      Mark Twain is quoted as saying “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” I thought that this quote resonated with most other adults as well. And it was uttered decades before the Monkeys sang, “We’re the young generation and we’ve got something to say.”

    • ilnda says:

      why change the way to worship?Its all about CHRIST,not numbers.Im not sure that these mega churches are what is needed

    • PA says:

      Great post, Dan.

  4. Robert says:

    Good thoughts. I agree. The Church needs to offer the Gospel, not entertainment, which it doesn’t do very well anyway.

    You gave me a smile with No. 6 “they get smart” (but apparently not smart enough to spell “atheist.”)

    • Aaron says:

      HA! I laughed at the ironic spelling error as well. I think this article has a lot of truth in it. I think a big problem is when these “kids” are no longer children, this faith needs to become their own and not their parents’. I think this is where the trouble arises.

      • taekat says:

        I agree with making it there own. Right after highschool is when I started thinking about my life as my own adventure and rules. Some kids go to church because their parents go and they make the most out of it – but sooner or later they have to choose. It’s like summer vacation – we only really hang-out with a few friends – keeping up with all of them is too much work – but once highschool starts up again you see them at school and catch-up but that’s only because you are going to the same highschool. Once you graduate or have summer vacation it’s up to you and your own initiative to keep in touch.

      • michaelmays says:

        “…this faith needs to become their own and not their parents’. I think this is where the trouble arises.”

        Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, or being needlessly semantic, but I see a problem with the whole notion of a faith that needs to become “their own.” When we consider the gospel rightly, it owns us, not the other way around. Anything I can, on my own initiative, go out and “appropriate” is just another “thing,” even if it’s a faith. Then we start reliving the Teacher’s frustrations in Ecclesiastes.

        Faith is not something to go out and own. If we’re attracted by that terminology, then let’s be theologically accurate: an authentic faith owns us. Now if THAT happened, we wouldn’t merely have more faithful “attenders,” we’d actually have disciples who weren’t afraid to engage this world IN THE WORLD and win the lost, not pretend there’s some clever and lazy way to entertain them into our building.

        I also know this wasn’t really the point of your comment, it just caught my eye.

      • Darkshin says:

        to Michaelmays.

        I’ve used hat phrase and I think it’s appropriate. When we own something, it’s care and state becomes our responsibility. Not saying we have to earn our salvation, but I make choices every day that have an impact on my relationship with the Lord.

        I’ve gone to college and watched “good christian kids” turn away from the faith because their parents never fostered them to take responsibility and ownership of their actions and relationship with the Lord. They never really knew Him and are easily swayed into placating the flesh, I also fell into that category. Many people in this world don’t have Godly parents and other times they eventually realize that they fall short, as we all do. When that reality sets in that we can’t just emulate our parents but need to spent time and effort into our own relationship, we choose to either turn toward the gospel or to something “easier” to feel the void.

        While I understand your legitimate concern’s about apostasy, and the realization that salvation and God is bigger than our experiences, I could just as easily have a problem with the phrasing faith owning us. I’ve heard this from people as an excuse for sin. After all, we belong to Christ it’ll all all workout in the end. While there are severe dangers to relevance, it’s still wisdom to realize that people interpret phrases/verbiage differently dependent to their generation and/or experiences.

    • agreyworld says:

      I don’t think spelling ability is really the best indication of how smart you are. Given that we are taught “i before e except after c” in school. Spelling it Athiest makes sense to me!

      I am awful at spelling, but I have a degree in Physics and a decent job in engineering – I know a lot of very smart people who can’t spell for toffee.

      As a young person who has never gone to church I found the article interesting. Some of the things certainly seem to ring true. I would say though, that the largest reason is the social mobility young people have in today’s world.

      In Britain, where I live, most young people go to University of College at 18. This usually involves going to live on the other side of the country. After 3 years you have to be willing to travel to be employable. I’ve lived in five different cities since I left for university.

      This means young people are removed from the ‘community’ where they went to church, and the people they did these things with. When they are confronted with a new life, and a huge change in everything they have to actively seek out church and make it a priority. Chances are they wont do this for a while, and in that time they are living life without church and they get to see its not all that different. Any doubts they will have will be shared with their peers of the same age and same period of their lives letting these grow.

      I’ve always been Atheist, my exposure with Christianity is mixed. My wife is the daughter of a Vicar and she did has become very disillusioned with Christianity.

      • Alexander S. Anderson says:

        I sympathize with this. As a very recent college graduate, I have had to expend much energy to maintain a connection with the Christian community that I participated in college while trying to have a community in my immediate surroundings, about 1,000 miles away, as well. Oddly enough, it has been Facebook, blogs, the great database of the Internet in general, that has done the most to connect me to both community and tradition during this time.

      • MT says:

        The complete spelling rule is, I before E except after C or the long A sound. But really typos happen. :)

      • marc5solas says:

        The misspelling in #8 is in the graphic, which I did not create. I think the misspelling is actually humorous if you read the graphic itself.

    • Shannon says:

      I respectfully disagree with your, “no entertainment” statement. I value our church choir and think that they are very entertaining and make you want to stand and sing and praise the lord with excitement. The Gospel IS in our hymns. Our music is to be uplifting and gloried through Jesus Christ our Lord.

      • Jordan says:

        It’s not about the music. It’s not about you being entertained. It’s not about you. It’s about worshiping the Savior and the God of the entire universe.

    • Andy says:

      Did you know the word “entertain” means to holds people’s attention. I think Jesus was very entertaining when He spoke to the people. He often used props (stood on a boat, used a few fish and loaves to feed thousands etc…), Jesus was relevent to His culture and always met people where they were at. I hear what is being said in this blog but I don’t totally agree with it. One said to change the method is the same as changing the message, not true, otherwise we would all be wearing robes and sadles, casting out demons and raising the dead.

      • marc5solas says:

        Jesus may have been captivating, and to those who wanted most to be fed, healed, or just to see signs, he was probably entertaining as well.
        Boats, fish, and loaves as “props”? I’ll disagree there. Jesus cut across their culture; the same Jesus that spoke to the Samaritan woman also called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and sons of their father, the devil. Again, cultures change, but when the method becomes the message, we’ve lost. How you deliver the message also has deep, deep implications. Methods are not neutral. While laser shows and shooting people from canons may be entertaining, we’re called to deliver this “foolish” gospel through the simple means of word, water, bread, and wine.

      • Doug says:

        Andy Stanley, is that you? Sure sounds like it!

        I find it amusing you call fish and bread “props”. Also, if you want to get into definitions of words, did you know that the word “Church” and “Circus” come from the same root word? That’s all you really are – a circus who is more concerned with numbers than content.

        I hear the author’s message loud and clear. Some of us are tired of being spoken to like we’re children. I’m 33 years old. You really think I need a staff wearing matching t-shirts and giving fake outbursts of encouragement? I used to come to church to be fed with the knowledge of God in that I could think more like him. These mega-churches have little-to-nothing to do with Christianity, rather they’re money-making businesses that are designed and operated with psychological and sociological strategy. I’m well aware of the music and speaking methods used.

        Add to that the level of anti-intellectualism and discouragement I received from the attendees at North Point/Buckhead Church is STAGGERING! Never in my life did I ever dream that “church people” would frown upon diligent study of Biblical doctrine and history. The explanation isn’t difficult. They are not Christians. Plan and simple. They want God on their OWN terms and that’s what these Wal-Mart churches give them. It is absolute cowardness for a pastor to not only fail to protect his sheep, but to actually go out and invite the wolves into the flock. Makes me sick.

        Haven’t been to church in months. I’m never going back.

      • But once the entertaining stopped, so did most of Jesus’ “followers.” He even chastised many for wanting only to get their belly’s full, or to see miracles. He wasn’t there to entertain, but to teach.

    • Luis says:

      Wow – that is so profound – “The Church needs to offer the Gospel, not entertainment, which it doesn’t do very well anyway.” – specially the part that “it doesn’t do very well anyway”. There is a good reason why the Word teaches not to “conform to this world”.

  5. Steve says:

    What could be more “American” than feel-good delusions and pretense?

  6. Gayle Jordan says:

    Or maybe, we all left because we realized that the bible was written by primitive people trying to understand their environment, that there is no evidence of the existence of god, that science will get humanity much closer to peace than religion ever will, and that we have access to a much higher morality through humanism.

    • marc5solas says:

      Could be, though I’m not sure you’re qualified to speak for everyone who has left the church. I understand your position, but in my experience these seen among the reasons I have heard.

    • Lauri Drosendahl says:

      “We have access to a much higher morality through humanism.” The purpose of true Christianity is NOT learning how to be a moral person. That is the difference between what people THINK Christianity is and what it REALLY is. Christianity is about CHRIST. Not His moral character, but about Him and what HE does. Not about what we may or may not do. Christ was born, lived, suffered and died and indeed rose again to earn heaven FOR YOU. No matter how moral you are or try to be, you will never be able to win / earn eternal life in heaven. Jesus was able as HE was perfect. Then He gave His inheritance to you. THAT is what Christianity is all about. Forgiveness. Your sin keeps you out, HIS payment of that debt gets you in. It is not was bought and paid for by suffering, blood and sin requires.

      Also, “science will get humanity much closer to peace.” The peace true Christianity offers is NOT peace between people..though that may and should happen. It is about the Peace that Christ brings between people and God. Jesus heals that divide between a holy God and his unholy children. There is no other way than perfection to be with the Father as His Law requires. We can’t accomplish perfection. He knew this..from the beginning and sent His Son to do the job on your behalf. His Son gave the gift He earned – to YOU -. Peace between God and man.

      And by the way? Science cannot rid the world of selfishness and hate..which is the reason we do not have world peace and never will . Sad, but true. Not to say we should not do our best to think of others before ourselves, just know that the natural state of mankind is self-centeredness.

      • TheGadfly says:

        “The peace true Christianity offers is NOT peace between people..though that may and should happen. It is about the Peace that Christ brings between people and God.”

        That sounds great, but I vote for peace among people who are alive today and who actually exist.

      • Andy says:

        Anyone who denies the existence of Jesus and God is purposely ignoring so much evidence. You can’t admit that He exists because that would mean you CAN’T live any way you want–you don’t want to be responsible for your actions. No matter how much you deny it, the proof is irrefutable.

        “When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. […] Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!
        I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.” -George Wald (who recieved the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1967)

        “If our brains are the by-product of random chance, why should we trust that our conclusions [about the universe] are accurate?” -Dr. Jason Lisle

      • Bonnie Miller says:


      • Bonnie Miller says:


    • Cam says:

      THANK YOU!

    • Steve Woods says:

      “Higher morality through humanism” … really? I beg to differ. If there is no God, everything is permissible. Why have any moral constraints at all if one is convinced that God does not exist? It was only when I became a Christian that I became legitimately concerned about my own morality. Prior to knowing Christ, I couldn’t have cared less, save for the concern about getting caught. God is the source of morality. Atheistic humanism will lead to oppression of the worst kind.

      • Meg says:

        If your belief in God is based upon a fear of getting caught, I challenge you to re-examine your belief system. No church I’ve ever been to espoused that sentiment directly, though I know a number of Christians who seem to fall into that trap. Believe in God because you believe it to be true. Not because you’re afraid of the consequences… that’s no God I’ve ever been taught to know. And frankly, that’s no God I’d ever have any desire to want to know either.

      • Lynn Otto says:

        Meg, read Steve Woods’ post more carefully: it was before he became a Christian that fear of getting caught restrained him. You’ve connected fear of getting caught with faith, and Steve did not.

      • Kelly says:

        I am so tired of this argument and of the misconceptions about atheists. I am atheist and moral. God is not the source of morality, and everything is not permissible. Good grief. Steve and Andy (above) make it sound like atheists are running around gleefully committing crimes and just generally being jerks. I don’t need to believe in a deity to know that being nice to others is the right thing to do. My own conscience (yes, I have one!) tells me that.

        Incidentally, I had to attend church growing up but stopped as soon as I went to college. Church was always boring and cliquish, and we had to go three times a week (!), but more importantly, none of it made sense to me. In college, I took a world religions course, and that, along with mythology and folklore classes, put Christianity into context. It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re kept in a bubble. Now that I have kids of my own, I am very much against the religious indoctrination of children. They should be taught how to think, not what to think. If young people grow up and leave the church, that is their choice, and they should be allowed to make it.

      • Sinner says:

        The “no God = a moral free world” argument might be the weakest of arguments for sticking with the church. i was raised going to church once a week until mid way into high school and i learned more about my own morals and values after taking one entry level ethics course in college than i ever did from years of church and trying to comprehend a very old book that is often very hard to decode what they are talking about and has, lets face it, some crazy rhetoric in it. That said, that was my personal experience – If you found your morals through God, more power to you and it is one of the plus sides of the church in our society – but please dont claim that God is the only source of morality.

      • Mike says:

        Kelly and Sinner-
        You say you don’t need God to be a moral person. But to those of us who believe in God, we’d say any moral leanings you have are because God exists, regardless of what you believe. I think the error that Christians make is when they say things like, “atheists have no morality” and then atheists say, “I am an atheist and I absolutely have moral values.” This makes the Christian’s statement seem silly because you can directly refute it.

        See Christians believe that God exists, and therefore we are all influenced by His presence in the world, regardless of whether or not we acknowledge that it’s there. So when you say you have morals, but don’t believe in God, we (Christians) would say that you are ignoring key evidence of God’s existence right there. If God is real it makes sense that everyone everywhere has morals. Everyone has a concept of right and wrong, at least in broad terms (murder, theft etc…).

        If there is in fact no God and everything in the universe was created through a series of random events, then why would we have any sense of morality? Out of all the species in the world, why is it that only we humans developed the ability to reason and invent? Science tells us that we’re just another species of mammal, so why haven’t other mammals moved out of their caves and built something? For some reason the universe deemed us special. But if there is no God in the picture, then why are we the only special ones? It’s one thing to believe that physical things were created by chance, but when you add moral reasoning and intelligence to the mix it’s entirely different. Where does the intelligence come from?

      • unapologist says:

        You may want to note that children who are force fed a steady diet of nonsense each Sunday now have resources at their fingertips to double-check facts. Christianity can no longer hide scholarship from it’s members as it has in the past. The fact that you can now easily debunk Christian teachings creationism, intelligent design, an inerrant Bible make the whole structure very shaky.

        The more Christians close their ears and cling to outdated doctrine the more a younger and more informed generation will continue to leave.

      • marc5solas says:

        Oddly enough I agree with your premise. The problem is that many are getting drivel from the pulpit and then getting the “A” team from the other world view at University. You can’t expect someone to get Joel Osteen growing up, and then Hitchens at University and not come away thinking that Christianity is for simpletons.

      • George Shaw says:

        Quote from Unapologist:
        “The fact that you can now easily debunk Christian teachings creationism, intelligent design, an inerrant Bible make the whole structure very shaky.”

        I think I would want my kids to do a little more fact-checking than you have done here:

        One of the rules of science (that many scientists break) is that everything is possible in science; you cannot make a universal statement until you have ecplored the entire universe simultaneously. To state that ID is debunked is silliness. Further, nobody was around at the time of creation, so that one cannot truly be debunked, either (unless you believe in God, as I do – He was there;) in fact, carbon dating is based on scientists’ understanding of how things decay, not on any kind of universal truth. (Did you notice the words “scientists’ understanding?” I have big issues with the idea that science is even truly objective – it is filtered through people’s perceptions. ALWAYS. If it were truly objective, with no subjective analysis, science would never be wrong, and yet scientists are proving our current knowledge to be wrong all the time!) And finally, until somebody can actually show truly objective data (without human intervention) proving an error in the Bible, I disagree there also.

    • nerdypants says:

      I like how, when the first actual atheist comes on here to voluntarily tell you the answer to your question, you all find reasons to dismiss him. Well, good luck figuring it out for yourselves then, Christians.

      • marc5solas says:

        I engage daily with atheists. I understand the issues. I would be utterly surprised if you brought an objection or argument which I haven’t seen, but I’m certainly willing to listen. My point in this article was that we, as the church, are failing to teach the faith which these kids later reject. So, when they reject the watered down faith they’ve been taught, it’s a straw-man of the actual faith.

        As for dismissing you (or better stated, your argument) we may simply disagree. (Which it seems is precisely what you are doing when you seek to “tell us the answer”.) Perhaps rather than dismissing your obviously correct answer, we simply disagree?

        Is there something specific that you want to address?

    • wkf04a says:

      What is the origin of this humanistic moralism? What are its tenets and what are their basis? How was it formed and by whom? What qualifies she/him/them to determine anything?

      • Suzanne says:

        This is a reply to Kelly’s comment regarding the statement that she is atheist and moral. Yes that’s total possible, and no one with a brain believes that atheists are running around like mad people doing whatever they please: they do have some sort of moral code.

        However, I would ask anyone who identifies with secular humanism to take a look at their presuppositions of their very position. You believe in justice, goodness, compassion, etc. Correct? But where does the desire for those things come from?

        Wait a second, what is good, anyway? And how can we form an opinion of it?

        Is it because we believe it so? Or that a group of people with the same idea believe it so? As you know, logically that breaks down, because any individual or group could then say they are correct, even if its crazy, for instance a pedophile believes his way of life is good and correct. No one would agree to that. But how can we say he’s wrong without an objective truth?

        And where does that truth come from, exactly? Again, it can’t come from yourself, because we, as humans, are completely subjective, vacillating at every turn. Relativism rules the day, but logically it doesn’t make sense.

        (I hate internet debates because you can’t actually see people and talk to them like normal human beings. I say this because this next bit is not to be taken as snarky or rude. I genuinely love asking questions, and being asked questions, and starting serious discussions.)

        Please point to your objective truth, and we can begin to have a true discussion about truth, goodness, and morality.

    • Rose Cooper says:

      I think I’d tend to agree with your point. There was a niggling annoyance when I read number 8, which seemed to misconstrue ‘getting smart’ as a horrible demotivational poster.

      “Rather than dumbing down the message, the agnostics and atheists treat our youth as intelligent and challenge their intellect with “deep thoughts” of question and doubt. Many of these “doubts” have been answered, in great depth, over the centuries of our faith.”

      Leaving aside the uncited final sentence (I appreciate the need for brevity in these articles), his quotation marks around “deep” seem to imply that the arguments of atheists/agnostics are not of worth, or are all snappy platitudes/quotes like the one he chose to use. This is obviously not true. Most arguments for non-belief don’t come from /r/atheism.

      • marc5solas says:

        Thank you for understanding the limited nature if the blogging medium!

        As my focus was in the churches shortcomings in preparing our youth to face other worldview, the comment wasn’t meant to imply that atheistic arguments aren’t “deep” more that we are failing to address these deeper issues (the problem of pain for example) on our end.

    • ilnda says:

      you are in my prayers

    • TammyTellMeTrue says:

      Your reply confirmed the intent of the original post ~ The Message of the Gospel is not about higher morality and peace on earth. The authors of the Bible were not trying to “understand” their environment. They were “contradicting” the current trends of their time by exposing hypocrisy in the supposed leadership (more concerned with power than people). The truths written were not for man to “understand” but to obey BECAUSE of the existence of their Creator. There IS evidence of a creator; it’s the schools and secular society that are not willing to examine scripture in conjunction with science. The TRUTH of the Gospel, the REASON Christ came to earth was not to bring higher morality, but to offer the way to have a relationship with God FOREVER; to make a way for mankind to go to heaven through the sacrifice Jesus offered when he paid the price (penalty) for us for breaking God’s law. That’s the simplicity of the Gospel. Science cannot offer a way for mankind to treat each other with love. Science will not support a person when faced with the day of judgment. Humanism cannot do it either.
      When a church preaches a ‘way of life’ with nothing but rules it is no different than what the Pharisee’s did. Humans alone will NEVER bring peace. There are absolutes and laws, but they are required in all rational societies. I know many believe as you do, but I fear for those who never hear the true reason of Christ’s birth, life and death. I know when I was in YG, I don’t recall it ever being spelled out to me in a way that I could understand. As a current SS teacher, I want Jesus preached … until there is an understanding of the price paid and why. It’s out of my love for them, not a need to control them or tell them how to live. One can be a ‘good’ person and yet risk it all with unbelief.

      • Jason says:

        Study Christian scriptures alongside science curriculum? I have officially heard it all.

        Religion does not belong in the science classroom until scientific evidence of it can be presented. I sure haven’t seen any to this point.

  7. […] essay, Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church, by Marc Solas is reprinted below without edit (though I did leave out all of his pictures -too […]

  8. Laura says:

    I love what you wrote … the gospel is what we all need, and sometimes it’s hard to find in church, despite the best of intentions.

  9. Glenn says:

    I’ll never forget Father’s Day 2010. My son came to me and asked if he could put a Darwin fish on the back of the car we let him drive. Turns out he had lost his faith and no longer believed in God. We sent him to Christian schools and took him with us to church. Needless to say that was one of the worst days of my life. I later found out his youth pastor was a control freak and would take everybody’s cell phones before doing any teaching. I’m not blaming that person but it certainly did not help. I struggled with this for weeks until I heard something on a TV show. A preacher was doing a funeral and his last words were “Be still and know that I am God”. I had to realize that God was running the show, that He chose us to be my son’s parents and that everything we have gone through is part of His plan. I certainly have doubt creep in and I worry about him a lot. I see our world changing and not in a good way. I see the signs and realize time is short. But if God is who He says He is and that He’s ever faithful I have to accept that and trust that God will deal with my son in His time and His way.

    • ehiggin says:

      Hey Glenn! I am going to say a special prayer for your son today. I’m 33, and grew up in that youth group culture, too. I have friends from those days who have strayed, lost their faith, or given up on church.

      I graduated from high school and went on to study theology/religion in college. This was a blessing from God because it served to strip away some of the dogma I had been instilled with, while also bolstering the positive aspects of my faith.

      Your son is probably more scientifically minded, and those types of people are quickest to reject all the fluff and falsity of the church culture. Your son needs to be introduced to a different side of Gods nature that is absent from churches today. I don’t know the full story of your son, but I’m just speaking from my own experiences. Some people need more answers than what the
      Church offers the average lay person. It would probably help your son to study church history / theology that challenges secular science.

      Ultimately, your son must discover it on his own. I know it’s discouraging, but like you said, God will know how to reveal Himself to your son. In the mean time, we can only pray for it . – Evan

      • E H C says:

        Hi, Glenn, when I saw your comment, I had to write to encourage you. I know it may seem like a really discouraging time when your son rejects the faith that you value so much. The good part of this is that it means your son is actually THINKING about what he’s learning. When I was 12 years old, I became an atheist after I actually realized that Christianity did not offer the answers to my deepest questions. The quote by Epicurus in this article pretty much summed up why I stopped believing in God. However, I had no one to *really* talk to about my beliefs and why I thought them. For the record, I think one of the events that made me question God was seeing adults in my church get into a huge fighting match when I was 11 years old. At that age, seeing adult Christians yelling and screaming and accusing each other of horrible things was traumatic for me. All I could think was, “This is NOT how God wants us to be!” It caused me to really question why God allowed that to happen and if he really existed. The good news is that while I was a professed atheist for a few years, God never gave up on me. He constantly put people in my life to teach me and remind me about God’s love. Some of the people God used in the most powerful ways had no idea that they were having any impact on me at all. Over the next few years, God worked his irresistible grace until I couldn’t help but know that God existed, and that the God who existed LOVED me, really, really LOVED me, and gave me Christ that I would never have to doubt that.

        So I just want you to encourage you to keep the lines of dialogue open with your son. If I’d had someone to talk to about my questions and doubts, my faith would probably not have taken the detours that it did. However, having taken those detours, my faith is a lot stronger than if I’d never questioned it. The prodigal son knows God’s love better than the (self)-righteous brother.

      • E H C says:

        Sorry, didn’t mean to make it seem like if you weren’t a prodigal son, then your only other option was to be a self-righteous brother. I merely meant that it’s better to know your sin and God’s grace than to be like many of the Christians that this article mentions who don’t have deep faith and wind up leaving the faith because they didn’t own it.

    • Vilewoman says:

      We sent him to Christian schools and took him with us to church. I just wonder – did you talk with him about what you believed and why? Did you teach him about God, Christ, the Bible? Or did you rely on the church and Christian schools to do it? I think one point that is not mentioned in this article is the fact that we as Christian parents are not teaching our faith to our children but rather relying on Church to do it for us. How much are we living and breathing what we claim to believe?

      When your son came to you and asked you about putting a darwin fish on the car, that was a prime time to ask why? Sounds like you did this based on your statement that the youth pastor took away cell phones. Most school teachers do the same thing – this is not being “harsh” or driving away kids. It is simply trying not to have to compete with them for the time they are there. I think there is something deeper as to why he doesn’t believe. Don’t blame the youth pastor for what you think are harsh practices. That is the easy way out – that is like Adam telling God why he ate the fruit.

      Keep talking with your child about what he believes and why. Try to be open and not condeming. Tell him what you believe and why. But do it in a loving non-fighting manner. Respect differences and pray for wisdom.

      • Tami M says:


      • Christopher says:

        That’s a great addition to this post. Teens look for consistency. Often times they do not see consistency with that which is taught in church and the lifestyle of thier authorities (parents, pastors, teachers). I’m curious if anyone else has additional thoughts on this.

      • Stacy M says:

        Also going through this with my 13-year-old daughter. Have tried to be cool, calm, and collected when asking her why she doesn’t believe in God anymore. It is so frustrating that she either has no idea or just will not tell me. We are both very active in church and Youth programs, so I guess I just don’t “get it!” Trying to avoid her leaving the church down the line too.

      • ilnda says:

        he is a teenager and he does believe.we are given a promise that if we raise a child the way he is supposed to be raised and he strays he will return.if the BIBLE says it,I believe it.Just keep an never ceasing eye and dont give up.PRAY,PRAY,PRAY.know what he is learning in church,school and know his friends.They can fool you.A 13 yo is still a child and it sounds like yours have contact with some smart convincing angry friends

      • marc5solas says:


        I have to chime in here. While we all agree that it is imperative to raise a child in the way they should go, Proverbs 22:6 is, well, a proverb. It is not a promise or guarantee. I think by positioning is as a promise/guarantee we put parents under incredible guilt if their children turn from the faith. Our faith is a gift of grace.


    • dot says:

      Just want you to know your post touched my heart; I will lift up your family in prayer and I encourage you to continue in faith. We know God is in control and believe that He hears and understands us when we are unable even to make our requests known to Him.

    • MendedHeart says:

      I will be praying for you and your family

  10. shadow says:

    I feel , as a teen my self, the best way to some all of this up is that we get ” Bored” with the same old same old sermons and stuff

    • shadow says:

      and attempts to be ” Like us” when what we want is some one who isnt ” Like us”

    • Anna says:

      I am a teen also, but what’s boredom? Another “feeling” towards something. A feeling doesn’t trump the the continuous Law and Gospel of a sermon, which are more important. And what does the Law do? Condemns. Gospel? Saves by the forgiveness of sins. I’d rather “feel” bored and have my sins forgiven than be entertained and have a wish washed version of that gospel that means little for the fact I’m a sinner who needs the forgiveness of sins.

      • AGYouth says:

        Please explain a wish washed version of the gospel?

        I think it is odd that people are tying the format of a church to the quality of the church. Seems like people on this blog are saying that a modern worship church can’t preach good Word? That seems like a very foolish idea to have. God works miracles. And he also can use ANYTHING. If modern worship brings people into a church, does that automatically mean they aren’t getting quality gospel?

      • Dave Stockhover says:

        This is a reply to AGYouth………”wish washed” = watered-down, lopsided toward “God is love”, “God has a wonderful plan for your life, just go find it”, “Go out into the community and do, do, do, do” things and no real Gospel.

        Do you honestly think that these “mega churches” such as Osteen or Hybels or Warren or Furtick or Noble or Groeschel or any other big name you want to throw out there (with the exception of a few like MacArthur), who have “modern worship”, as you have just called it, such as “Highway to Hell” at Perry Noble’s church on Resurrection Sunday a few years go, would be as big as they are and have the number of people that they have if the Gospel was faithfully proclaimed from the pulpit? I tell you no, they would not and here is why.

        The Gospel is offensive. It is scandalous. it makes people angry when it is proclaimed. Who wants to hear they are a sinner deserving hell? Who wants to hear that God’s wrath abides on them? Who wants to hear that? No one, that’s who and if the Spirit of God does not come and break their heart to their sin, they WILL NOT be saved and will not come back. Can’t grow an empire…..uhhhhh, I mean church…….like that. So, the message is “wish washed” as the young lady said.

        What these people are doing by attempting to be cool and hip and relevant is destroying untold thousands of souls and it is sad. What is even sadder is this……those who are in positions of leadership are going to pay a high, high price when they stand before the Judge of the universe to give an account. That day is coming, for all of us, at it would behoove us all to get the Gospel correct, teaching the whole counsel of God, not just what will “grow” a group of people and call it a “church”

    • Stephen says:

      Shadow and Anna, thanks for participating in this conversation. Can you help us understand “same old same old sermons”? Are you referring to hearing the same stories over and over again, hearing things the same way over and over again, or both? If both, which has been worse for you?

      • Parker says:

        Speaking for them because I’m in a similar boat. The issue is how to communicate the word to a group. Paul was blessed in Athens to address only one group: scholars. Unfortunately, youth groups (especially the size of mine) have a broad audience (6th grade to 12th grade) A sermon might be deep and fresh to a 6th grader, but shallow to a 12th grader. And what about that 6th grader raised in church vs the new convert in 9th grade? Suddenly the deepness of a topic changes.
        I think kids raised in church are tired of the same old stories. Occasionally kings or judges are pulled out for cool stories likely unknown to most. But the message is similar. There seem to be few standard messages in youth groups:
        1)witnes to your friends
        2) no premarital sex
        3) don’t fall to peer pressure
        4) bring X to church
        5) become a Christain
        6) don’t do immoral stuff

        But these lack the freshness in my opinion many kids desire.

        What is really cool in my opinion, is the occasional youth sermons on apologetics topics. We seldom are given these, possibly because of new kids. But I don’t like that logic. If a new kid jumps in on this sermon, iron out his confusion in small group or questions! Apologetics are the best sermons ever! It shows we can actually intellectually compete with the world. It shows we can be in the world, not our own world.

      • Mike says:

        Parker, I think what you’re talking about is raising the bar for young people. As a youth pastor for a lot of years, I’ve seen students excel when expectations are raised. I think often, young people leave the church when they feel like they’re not challenged to grow there. They know they should be growing, but they don’t see a connection with that and whatever they’re doing at youth group activities. This isn’t so much about style, but about the expectations communicated to them about what it really means to be His disciples, His church.

        I know I don’t know you and this sounds a little awkward, but I feel like you are on the edge of a great solution for yourself and your church and just wanted to offer a little encouragement: Keep digging into the wisdom of God’s Word and keep sharing what you find there.

        I wrote a little about this topic as well over at and would welcome your feedback. (Marc, I hope it’s ok to share a link here.)

      • marc5solas says:

        Agreed, and I hope this came across here. There seems to be confusion that I’m critiquing STYLES. Not at all, from hip-hop artist Lecrae to aged Anglican JI Packer, its’ about the gospel.

    • unapologist says:

      As teens, continue your education. Learn the critical thinking skills your church doesn’t want you to learn. Learn to analyze arguments, question dogma and never just take someone’s word for anything because they seem like a nice person.

      • Walker says:

        I couldn’t agree more, but remember as you continue your education that the world outside of church is full of dogma as well. The world is all about teaching critical thinking skills as long as you don’t use these skills to question them. There are valid arguments on both sides of the God question, and you should seek out answers, but don’t believe the lie that to believe in God is silly because He’s already been disproved. He hasn’t, and there are a lot of questions that atheists can’t answer too. The Cambrian explosion, irreducible complexity, origin of life, the “appearance” of design, etc. The problem with higher education is that it has chosen a side of the argument, and decided to cover its ears and babble instead of listening and considering the possibility that it picked the wrong side. Go to school, listen to your teachers, they’re really smart! But don’t take everything they say as law, just like you shouldn’t take everything you hear in church as law! Use those critical thinking skills you learn to weigh all the options fairly. I did, and it only strengthened my faith in God throughout my college experience.

  11. my 78year old hart crys for them. plese God.

  12. Ann says:

    You are right, get back to the gospel of Jesus Christ and get out of politics. If you want a strong church, stay in church and stay away from politics. We don’t want evangelical Christian politicians any more than we want fundamentalist Muslim politicians. The Tea Party sucks, it’s ruining the Republican party and it will ruin the church.

    • beth says:

      Ann, thank you, yes!!! The politics from the pulpit have ruined church for me (I am 39). I want to live Christlike, I want to be shown Christlikeness from the pulpit and the church body. I do not want to hear denouncing of people’s heartfelt beliefs based on political affiliation. It’s horrid to feel like the odd one out in your own church body, but yet to feel that Jesus loves and accepts you as you are. THAT’S why I want to leave the church–but hope to find a better fit since I have young children.

  13. jwcunningham says:

    Excellent article. We often forget that Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is just as needed today as it was then. Churches today are consistently casting people into the bondage of a works system. Youth are intelligent and they realize when churches and preachers are not in alignment with scripture. They want you to be authentic, but not in regards to pop culture. Be authentic to scripture. Get the entertainment out of the way and preach salvation by Christ alone.

  14. Amanda says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have three teenagers – and I needed this wake-up call to remind me to stop lazily relying on “we do this because we’re Christians and we’re supposed to do this.” No. We live our lives for God because we’re deeply in love with Him. I need to live out my love, talk about my love for God – explain why I want to talk to Him, read His word, spend my days just trying to walk in His ways. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I desperately want to. It’s what you do when you’re in love. I need to be honest and real with them and stop dressing up my feelings and acting “dignified.” There’s just no time for that. They’re almost out on their own. I need to be real with them.

    • beth says:

      Amanda, Yes! I wish someone had taught me this as a teen. I was raised as a “should” Christian. I did what I should (and felt guilty when I didn’t), I was told to “witness” and I spouted off scriptures with no more passion than reading a cereal box. No one ever taught me how to fall in love with God. No one ever told me that I COULD! No one ever told me that I could have not just a one way conversation–but a two way one. God was just a notion in the sky, and I was saying I was believing because that’s the only thing I knew. It is only within the last 5 yrs that God has grown in me–and the catalyst is my relationship with a woman who is WAY outside the mold of “Christian” as defined by my family/church. There is something wrong with that, somewhere…

  15. I was raised in a non-Christian home. At 13, I started to Jr High school where I made all new friends. It didn’t take long to discover that these friends had something in their lives that was greatly missing from mine and I longed, yes….LONGED to have whatever it was that they had. I knew they went to church and in my 13 year old mind, I thought that going to church must be it, I went home from school one day and asked my Mom , “can we go to church?” Her reply was, “No, we can’t, but you can.” So at 13 I began attending church by myself. The stipulation was, that I had to attend where my grandmother attended so that there would be someone there to watch over me. My dad would drive me to church and drop me off at the door every Sunday. What I learned was this…….You can go to any church every day of the week but UNLESS you let the Word of God, the gospel of JESUS CHRIST, change you from the inside out, living fully and completely devoted in every way to HIM genuinely committed, hook line and sinker, loving HIM with all your heart, all your soul and all of your strength it won’t make any difference where you go. Your children will sniff you out as a phoney. Every one of those new friends that I had at 13 are still deeply committed to God today, 40 years later. Right on Sir! STICK WITH THE TRUTH OF GOD, it will never return void.

  16. Ha. I was part of the generation who stopped going to church. My opinion is this: It’s not that I don’t believe in God and don’t want to be good. But put it this way. When I was a kid, i studied in a Catholic school. I dutifully went to Church, did not cheat etc. I idolized my priests so much UNTIL the president of the high school council confided to me how the priests were actually stealing money for their own personal pleasures. I can’t help but wonder how the Pope lives in such splendor when there are kids dying from poverty. I watch the news and see priests rape kids. My father tells me to b good but ends up beating my mom. The president says there shall be justice only to find out she cheated in the elections.

    It’s not the homilies or Sunday mass. It’s not the modernization of the Church. It’s when kids see the people they use to idolize or admire lie. It’s when kids realize that “goodness” and “love” can be broken by the people who tell them to be good in the first place.

    It’s a lost of trust. That’s what is making kids stop going to Church. They don’t trust the Church to help them.

    • Laurie says:

      Nobody will ever be satisfied if they put their trust in the church. The church, while it is the body of Christ, is made up of fallen, sinful people. Yes, even priests are fallen, sinful people who sometimes, if not often, give in to temptation just like you. We will only be satisfied when we put our trust in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and came that we might have life. Those who are well have no need for a physician. Those who think they are righteous don’t think they need a savior. Jesus said that he came not for the righteous but for sinners. He came for you and for me.

    • grkohler says:

      Remember being asked this question: “who is the Church” and the answer: “We are!” ?(I’m a vatican ii catholic) I say that because Christ’s Church is not defined by those of us who fail due to our selfishness and sin, but is defined by the testement of faith from thousands of years (considering the scope of the O.T. and N.Testament). Don’t let the sins and failures
      blind you to the redemption won by Christ and of His life of grace. In fact, the scriptures and tradition are full of examples of conversion (all moving from sin into holiness through Christ). Trust in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who redeem, sancitfy and empower us to become who we’ve been created to be. To follow your logic, you’d have to “stop” being a citizen (because we have criminals you know), or stop being a student because there are some lousy teachers, etc. etc. We all get the “sin” part…don’t get stuck there…get on to embracing His grace and make a positive difference through your life experiences. YOU can trust again…get your eyes off the sinners and onto the Saints! Peace and joy to you my friend! :)

    • George Shaw says:

      @Laurie: Amen.

      Lemme add this passage:
      For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

      The church will not save you, and the clergy are also human; most importantly, YOU are human. God doesn’t save you because you are perfect, and He doesn’t really expect you to ever reach perfection. Rather, He saves you despite your imperfection, and puts the cloak of Jesus’ perfect blood on your shoulders, so that all He sees is Jesus righteousness, not yours.

      I love the parable of the wedding feast, in which the father sends for his friends who all make excuses. The father then fills his house with the riffraff and ne’er-do-wells of the city instead.

      The picture doesn’t end there, though: in Jesus’ time, the culture was that a groom’s father provided every guest with a matching outfit of clothes at his own expense. At this particular feast, one man decided he would provide his own clothes. Those clothes were not right, so he was summarily booted from the party, “into outer darkness.”

      The moral is simple: your own clothes are not good enough for the party God is throwing for his Son, Jesus Christ – only the covering of Jesus’ own blood, provided at His own expense, is good enough to get you into that party.

      Never let it be said that Jesus spoke incomplete pictures!

  17. Jan Drexler says:

    None of our four children have left the church (ages 19-28), and I think it’s precisely because we were convinced that doctrine is important. In our years of moving from state to state, we sought out churches that challenged us and convicted us. We refused to give our children to flashy children’s programs and youth groups. We looked for meat for ourselves and our children, not pablum.

    And all this happened because years ago someone gave me the advice “if you want your children to be close to God, you need to be close to God.”

    We can blame bad churches and lousy leaders, but when it comes right down to it, our children’s spiritual training is our responsibility, and it’s the most important work we can do.

    • Jo says:

      I completely agree. Just like we can’t depend on the public education system to train our children for real life, we can’t depend on the church to exist as the only outlet in which our children see God. If we don’t live it at home and make it a point to allow God to permeate all parts of our lives, how can we expect our children to see Him as anything other than a convenience?

    • Dale says:

      As a Pastor this artical has struck a note of need for the “American Church”. As a father & grand father, my wife & i have 5 children, 17 grandchildren. Most of them, all the children & their children still in the church. The real need is the life of Christ in the home. My heart goes out to all those young people who have not been presented with the true gospel, Jesus Christ Crucified & ressurected. All that lived out in the home. Blame the church if you want ( it’s true), but parents not living the truth before their children in everyday life does more harm than maybe 6 hours a week in church! I pray that those lost will repent & return before they die!

    • jmatsilv says:

      Thank you Jan! I AGREE completely. This all comes down to two things:

      1. PARENTS take responsibility. QUit blaming your churches minustries. Your Lead Pastor, Youth Pastor, or Sunday School workers are not Jesus Christ…they cannot save your children. Nor are they solely responsible to train up your children; you are .

      2. Eventually, no matter how good of a job you do as parents (and I am one), your children will have to decide one day if what you believe, is what they believe. They need to own it personally. They need to make their own choice. Don’t beat yourself up, or preach at them, if they make one you don’t like, rather pray for them. That God would reveal Himself to them.

      Don’t get me wrong, we all have responsibilties as Church leaders, and fellow Christ followers, and yes Churches do dumb things with honest intentions sometimes. But when it comes to children and youth… it starts at home. (Speaking to Christian families)

      I grow tired of the whole “You now what’s wrong with the Church today?” rant. And it seems to have representatives in every generation. When I was a kid, I remember my Dad constantly going on about what was wrong with the Church. Even as a kid, I felt like he was wrong to do that. Remember Christ died for the very church (imperfections and ineffective strategies included) that we continually judge.

    • Awesome. In this you say “We can blame bad churches and lousy leaders, but when it comes right down to it, our children’s spiritual training is our responsibility, and it’s the most important work we can do.” The only thing with that, to go back to what you said, you found a church that mirrored what you were doing in your home. It’s too bad we have to look, sometimes far and wide, for that.

  18. Myra says:

    You nailed it. Jesus said go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, and make desciples. His church is the one I want to be a part of. Let me know if you find it! I’m 60 years old and i’ve only seen a little bit of it and usually it is not in a large building with parking attendants, and fancy sound systems!

  19. Marc, I want to thank you for taking the time to pull together this list. This is very well written and very well thought out. I pray that all pastors and youth workers take this to heart. In my own work with young people I have seen a more important 11th factor emerge. These young people have never really seen God do something only God can do. Christianity is a “Faith” and faith is something to exercise and grow. It is a different way of operating from how the world operates. They have not seen Christianity truly at work in the spiritual warfare that happens every day around them, so they have not felt a need to put on the whole armor of God. They have seen Christians so bound up by worry that they require anti-anxiety medications in order to get through their days. They have seen a Christianity that is much more “show” than “go.”

    They have grown up in a licentious age that says “if it feels so good, how can it be wrong.” They have pushed the boundaries and found they were not real.

    There is a difference between the “Christian Mind” and the “mind of the world”. The Christian mind understands being anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6-8). It understands that when you release that which frightens you to God, you experience peace even if the whole thing is screwed up. Many times they buy into the notion that man can be good enough on his own to merit salvation. IF that were so, the cross would be unnecessary.

    There is no doubt that young people today have more information about everything available to them than anyone at any time in human history, apart from God himself. But they don’t really understand how to integrate the information into their Christian system of thought.

    The “masking” of shortcomings is huge. All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God, so we should not be surprised by hypocrisy in the church. Still we put on the game face for church and the world face the rest of the week. As a pastor, I saw the children growing up seeking answers, and they often observed power grabs, adultery, gossip and perfectionism. All of those things increase separation from God. Each parent should look honestly at the Christian Life they have presented their children and ask themselves if they would have “bought it” when they were growing up.

    While it is true that a large portion of the young people leaving the faith have been raised on Deuteronomy 6 principles of discussing God and how God fits the day to day of life, I think most parents have fallen short by relying on others to do the spiritual work with their children. You made an important point when you said that many leaders don’t understand the atonement. They don’t understand spiritual warfare either. They don’t understand how Christ is really relevant day-to-day.

    Christianity began to lose power when it tried to gain political power. Jesus is not a republican. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. The Great Commission does not take a back seat to protecting our first amendment rights. The Great Commission is the mission of the church.

    Still, the battle belongs to the Lord. It is not too late. It will take authentic Christianity to change the picture. It will take letting God work through us. It will take true repentance. It will take making the Gospel more important than who sits in the seat of power. It will take God doing something only God can do.

  20. thank you for wrinting this. I too, was the same. I grew up in a church where I went to youth group and did the ‘church’ thing, but left out of high school. I am 31 yr old and returned a little over a year ago. Many of the reasons you stated are/were truth for me. I just wanted to point out one of the biggest reasons in my life. I don’t believe that the church I went to was the main prob, altho possible some. It was @ home beyond the Suday and Wednesdays that was the prob. That I remember, my Mom ‘who today claims to be a believer’ never opened her Bible @ home. Never talked about sin and repentance. My Dad and Mom got divorced when I was 13. Also, so many churches today have AA and Christians in recovery programs that teach you to earn your way to God thru ‘your’ works. They are also as you said “a lot of church’s want you to ‘feel’ your spirituality, but God wants our faith, not our feelings. There are also so many false teachers today that don’t accurately preach the word of God. They allow women to be ministers, and turn their freedom in Christ (if they truly are saved) into a cause for licentiousness. I praise God that he brought me back to himself and placed me in a Biblical and sin teaching church. I go over Bible verses daily w/ my children and pray w/ them and train them, all by the grace of God. (my hubby isn’t saved, but I still pray for him everyday). Anyway, thank you again for writing this and may the peace of God be with you :)

  21. middle aged men should not wear skinny jeans. :) Thank you for this. Your point about living under the law and how it condemns us so resonated with me. The older I get, the more I realize it’s all about Jesus — don’t understand how I missed that point for so many years. Trying to pass that realization on to my kids.

  22. Kayla says:

    It’s not the church’s job to make our kiddos(children, preteens, teens) fall madly in love with the Gospel. That may be our first problem, we expect our kids to grow up in church and continue to play church when we, parents, ourselves don’t live out our faith. We are supposed to teach our children, it isn’t the anyone elses responsibility. Not to mention this emphasis on church, are you talking about the building? Because what we call so commonly call church is nothing like what Paul describes in Acts….I agree with your points but I think there is a bigger issue we as parents who want to raise Godly children need to deal with.

    • Jo says:

      I absolutely agree. If parents don’t live out their faith, their children will have none. We should be able to advise our children to walk in our footsteps … not do what I say, not what I do.

      On another note, while I agree that church doesn’t exist for entertainment and the message doesn’t need to be tainted or lessened by the delivery, the delivery and the motive therein does matter. God said, “I desire obedience not sacrifice.” Motive matters. If a youth minister makes the message fun with the motive to reach the younger generation, what’s wrong with that? If the message remains the same, then why does the delivery method matter?

      Moreover, I also disagree that the age-old maxim of “hell fire and brimstone” has much relevance. If the only reason we follow Jesus is to get to Heaven, I don’t believe He would have said that He came “to give life and give it more abundantly.” What would be the point? The objective would have been met.

  23. Carrie says:

    Wow, thank you for writing this! I am a 22 year old missionary kid and I currently attend a well-known evangelical liberal arts college. Even though I’ve spent my whole life in Christian circles, I really feel like it’s only been in the last year that I’ve really come to understand the freedom and the joy of the gospel. Without an understanding of the gospel, “being a good person” is absolutely meaningless and pointless. There is no reason that young people should be attracted to churches that only preach “good works”, and I can understand why they would turn away from churches that only make them feel guilty and fake. I’m sad to say that I feel that most of my peers – intelligent seniors at a Christian college! – don’t seem to really understand the gospel. And churches that are gospel/Christ-centered really seem to be few and far between!

    So thank you for writing this!

  24. Ron Rothhaas says:

    I’m not certain where I come down on the points herein. No, essential Christian doctrine shall not be altered to be made more appealing but relevance? The context in which the message is proclaimed will necessarily change because society changes. Jesus was preaching to agrarian types in the middle east. People today have the same life challenges, but in entirely different contexts. Too many people get stuck in the time warp of their youth. 60 somethings of today seem to think ONLY hymns sung 60 years ago are appropriate. Why? They spend so much time hrumph-ing most young people I know can’t wait to flee those who are like that.

    • Joshua says:

      Most young people I know (myself included) are not nearly as “turned off” by hymns as are the middle aged members who fear they are losing us. Perhaps they are subconciously more worried about themselves becoming irrelevant.

      • BigD says:

        I believe that worship done with passion and conviction is appealing to ALL ages. Now poorly done schlock (choruses, worship music, hymns and even Bach) is very boring and offputting!

      • marc5solas says:

        Sounds like differences in style. I’m not a fan of tap, but the theology in Lecrae and Tadashi’s music makes causes me to worship.

        I’ve see people worship with great passion to heretical music.

        Just a thought

  25. Mike DeNatale says:

    Reblogged this on Blogging for Wisdom and commented:
    It can be a hard pill to swallow when your church or youth ministry is failing to make disciples. I think church youth groups could use higher Recidivism rate.

  26. anniem8 says:

    Reblogged this on Itza Spectrum and commented:
    Wow… This was very good, and something I have experienced, and am still experiencing, first-hand within my own extended family. I hope that Christian parents, and those who care about the upcoming generation in our churches, will read this and take it to heart!
    Please read and think on this! Seriously…..!

  27. Dallas Cheek says:

    I’d say amen to all 10 but saying “amen” could be number 11.

  28. Carrie says:

    You have said what I have been saying and thinking for awhile now. Thank you!

  29. Dr. D says:

    Great article! There is no perfect answer for why each young person has left the church, but this certainly speaks to a large part of the problem. Thanks!

  30. Cel says:

    Speaking as someone who left the church, this is only partially true for me. For me, some of it was that I never felt welcome in church. I’ve always been shy and introverted, with vastly different interests than the kids in my age group. None of the other kids seemed to want to get to know me. I would say the other major reason is the hypocrisy; many Christians I know seem to pick and choose parts of the Bible they want to believe in.

    • Jo says:


      I am sorry that you’ve had this experience in church. To be honest, I do empathize. I, too, felt like an outcast in the youth group. I agree that acceptance is a large part of why younger people leave the church — especially if the church is traditional in its worship and messages. I left church for a while in my college days because we “church shopped” and found no place that felt like home. Moreover, no one reached out to us. I would agree that one of the worst hypocrisies in today’s churches is the lack of follow up. Even as a church-going person, if I visit a church and no one attempts to talk to me, I never go back — especially if I’ve visited several times and I never hear from anyone!

  31. passporttorainbows says:

    I agree. I am exhausted of being treated like an ignorant, forced to believe because that’s how it always has been. Belief, no matter how metaphysical, is still initially founded on objectivity and reason. That reason needs to be clear to every member of the Church regardless of their age so that when they are confronted with narratives that convinces them to doubt they know exactly where their faith is hinged on. The “I cannot explain” phase is over. Everyone is getting smarter. I suggest the Church matures in the way they teach their younger population or accept the fact that more people will leave because there are SEEMINGLY better alternatives.

  32. Tim says:

    I wrote a comment several paragraphs long this afternoon about bad Christians. Apparently it won’t show up because bad Christians don’t enjoy criticism.

    • marc5solas says:


      Several comments were unintentionally deleted. I apologize. I have no issue posting comments with differing views or are critical of my article. If you’re interested in a fair exchange of ideas, you’re welcomed to post. However, if you’re only interested in battling straw men or caricatures of my faith, this isn’t the venue for it (and frankly you don’t need anyone else to do that).

      • TheGadfly says:

        “Unintentionally deleted” may mean “moderated” which may mean “I don’t like your tone.” Just so everyone knows.

      • marc5solas says:

        Or it could simply mean that in the hundreds of comments I’ve moderated today, I missed a few. ;) I would think that my posting this would show my intent.

  33. Eddie says:

    I think most teens leave church simply because they aren’t saved. Unbelievers don’t like church.

    • Barry Pierce says:

      Unbelievers don’t like church when its faithful to the “faith once for all entrusted to the saints.” It’s offensive to the sinful nature, but beautiful for “those who have ears to hear.”

      We fail when we change the message to gain more acceptance from sinful, unbelieving hearts and win them to a false gospel, false conversion, false profession, misleading testimony and eternal damnation instead of salvation.

  34. Tim says:

    Excellent analysis, particularly the first 7-8 points. The law-gospel construct… meh. Biblical preaching (as in the preaching actually recorded in the Bible) never uses that construct, although it has elements of validity.

    But your overall point is well-taken.

  35. Tim says:

    2nd Attempt.

    You left out one of the biggest reasons youth leave the church. Bad Christians.

    I remember being at a funeral once. It was of an acquaintance who had passed away from AIDS complications. The officiating pastor stood at the pulpit and announced “If anyone denies that this man burning in hell, then you need to take a serious look at where you stand with God and ask why you’re siding with the perverts and blasphemers.’ The family, who had no idea what he planned to say, was horrified. One of the uncles came very close to physically attacking him. That family has never stepped foot in a church again. Why would they? When a snake bite you, you learn to avoid snakes.

    You can blame bad teaching, relevance, and better feelings as much as you want. The fact is that many individuals leave the Church because they watch Christians. To ignore is is to ignore your own faults as an organisation. But we don’t ignore these things. When Christians stand in the streets with signs that say ‘F-gs burn in hell,’ or ‘AIDS is God’s punishment,’ you are judged. When you venerate a man who wrote a treatise called ‘On the Jews and Their Lies,’ you are judged. When you delight in telling children who were not raised in the culture you were all about the torments they’re bound to suffer, you are judged. When your pastors support a bill in Uganda that promotes the death penalty for homosexuals, you are judged. When you claim that your religion is about peace and love and you’ve left a 2,000 year old history of persecution and destruction, you are judged. When you hide child molesters in your pulpits, you are judged. When you talk about the sanctity of marriage when your on your third marriage, when every word that comes out of your mouth reeks with hypocrisy, when you bully and beat down others with a cross in your hand, you are judged.

    I’ve heard many Christians say that you can’t judge the whole by the actions of some, but the entire Christian religion is guilty of the worst type of tacit approval. Everywhere you will see Christians bullying those of other religions, other beliefs, other skin colours, other sexualities, and nowhere does a Christian lift their voices in objection for fear of being accused of promoting the sin.

    Do you want to know what’s really happening to your youth? We’re growing up. We’re meeting atheists who are not evil, but kind. We are meeting gay men and women who become our friends. We’re listening to people exchange ideas and disagree but still maintaining respect. And we’re realising that those people who taught us morals and right from wrong have trained us like dogs to be rabidly opposed to these amazing people, and we are realising that the evil and the hatred and the vileness is coming from the very source that claims to be the source of all good. There’s a saying that the good that the Church has done can fill an etiquette book, and the evil it’s done can fill a library. You might consider the truth of that statement.

    If you want to keep your youth with you, it’s not a problem with your Bible lessons or your skinny jeans or your liturgy. It’s a problem with your congregants and your pastors. You’ve been assured of forgiveness so long that you’ve permitted yourselves to behave as you want, and your children want no part of it. It’s not laziness or complacency. It’s disgust.

    Perhaps if Christians consider shaping up their behaviour, they can win some of their youth back, Mr. Solas.

    But I doubt it.

    Perhaps if you look at the

    • Tim says:

      I apologise for the six random words at the bottom. It’s part of something else I was typing before hand.

      • Laura says:

        C.S. Lewis addresses the “Bad Christians” issue in Screwtape Letters. People are people; people sin. If you became a Christian, do you expect you would suddenly become perfect, or that you would even eventually become perfect? Try not to judge Christianity based on followers; judge it based on Christ, as seen in the Bible. Christians ought to be doing their best to follow Him, to be like Him. I’m not excusing Christians from bad behavior – but you shouldn’t reject Christ just because some of his followers (or perhaps I should say “followers”) are idiots.

    • I also felt this point was glaringly missing from the article Tim – thank you for sharing it.

      It’s very easy to say because some are ‘idiots’ you can’t blame the whole organization. To that I will say I don’t think every Christian is judgmental and unloving – but the American church as a body IS judgmental and unloving – to the point that it overshadows anything else (whether it is the extreme of Westboro Baptist or the vaguely racist, homophobic but otherwise ‘friendly’ church I grew up going to or anywhere in between). A middle aged pastor in skinny jeans is actually the least of the problem (if it’s a real problem at all)…

      • Tim says:

        I agree Kelly & Dave. I think what many people don’t realise is that the friendly but vaguely racist and homophobic churches have become the face of the Christian Church. The people who say you should judge Christianity based on Christ, not on Christians, are missing the point of the article and of my comment. The subject isn’t why people leave Christianity, it’s why young people leave the church. Many young people leave because the people they are surrounded by are unpleasant, egotistical, and judgmental at best and hateful, criminal and hypocritical at worst.

        I grew up in Ireland, where being a Christian meant I had to celebrate every someone who didn’t go to the right church was killed by those who did. That disillusioned me very quickly. The abuse scandal was the death knoll for many, sending church attendance in Ireland plunging down to about 16%. Who’s at fault? Bad Christians. Who’s to blame for bad Christians? Every other Christian. I seem to recall that Christians are instructed to rebuke their brothers and sisters, which so many are not eager to do lest they, as I said, seem to give approval to sin.

      • Andy says:

        I don’t know if my comment will be seen or read in all these responses, but as a teen, I feel I should share something. With all the talk of the pastor’s clothes, most of it being “it shouldn’t matter” yet here we are discussing it…I beg to differ. Clothes are important.
        I am 19 years old, living at home, attending the same church my family has gone to for the past seven years. It is not perfect. There are a lot of things wrong with it, but no church is perfect just as no one is perfect.
        Getting “dressed up” for church gives me, at least, an attitude of preparation — to look nice. My pastors wear suits. Why? To come before God in His house with a little more thought than rolling out of bed and finding matching flip flops. Now, I don’t think there is anything in the Bible about what to wear on the sabbath, but I’m sure God appreciates when His children think about it enough to do something a little special for Him. Its about respect. I don’t know if this all makes sense, but this is what I believe.

        Also, Laura^ spot on. Look around you Tim. That woman at the cash register? Hypocrite. That man in line behind you? Abusive partner. That girl parked next to you? Thief. Does that mean you’re never going to the grocery store again? No. You cannot get away from evil in this world. Don’t be a hypocrite at the same time you are spewing “Hypocrites!” at churches. Also, much of what you have said, I have not encountered at my fundamentalist church. Do not group all churches together. That pastor was so wrong for saying that and he WILL be judged for his words, as will you.

    • beth says:

      I think this is why “people” leave the church, not just youth. Youth just do it more easily than someone wrapped up in legalism and “shoulds”. I think you are spot on..for me anyway. And to Laura, on down a ways…in no way is this leaving Christianity–it’s turning toward Christ. It’s turning away from all the junk obstructing my view of CHRIST. Am I expecting perfection, no, not at all! But I am expecting to see Jesus in my church, and I don’t. I see nothing of grace and mercy, and who is Jesus if not that?

      • Antonia says:

        Beth –
        I was inclined to agree with you, until I remembered my recent personal studies in the book of Revelation. I am still grappling or coming to terms with the “Jesus” I see in that book of the Bible. He is full of God’s wrath and “tramples the blood out of the people like wine from grapes” till the people in the cities are swimming in all of the spilled blood. This is very much the God of the Old Testament. I recoil in horror from this view of Jesus and it does not lead me to want to get closer to Him. Yet I love Him, still, somehow, and am forced intellectually to acknowledge that even THIS Jesus is one and the same as the Good Shepherd who tenderly seeks the lost sheep, and who said “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

        Please read Revelation and see if you don’t acquire a fuller picture of who Jesus is. It’s mind-boggling. Yes, Jesus IS grace and mercy, and He is also wrath and eternal punishment. But we should be exhibiting the “grace and mercy” side, and leave the wrath and punishment to HIM to mete out!

    • unapologist says:

      I think Tim has hit on the main point. We don’t see Jesus every day but we have plenty of contact with his followers. Fear and hatred go seeming hand in hand with today’s Christianity along with a membership to the Republican party.

      Try being a social liberal in the modern Evangelical Church in the USA and see what a cold shoulder you receive from your fellow congregants.

      Well done post Tim.

    • BigD says:

      Ja – – no problem that there are bad (some very bad) people who call themselves Christians. There are also people like that in EVERY kind of group. So using this thinking one should never ever associate with anyone because they may be bad (or worse). Perhaps we need to learn to look past those that aren’t what they say they are (that might include pastors deacons and what have yous) and look at what their results are. Are the results love, joy, faith, purity, growth (and more) even in the hard times? Then perhaps we have the genuine article – – so if we actually know what the document that God sent us says (we call it the Bible) we CAN determine who is real. Follow God – – – not people!!

    • acapulco fish says:

      As for the family leaving due to a crazy preacher, I wonder about their faith. I went to a terrible church and then transferred out when I realized that they weren’t preaching the truth. If a nut preacher says someone is going to hell for being a sinner, then surely he condemns himself as he is also a sinner. Christ saves us from hell. We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. Our baptism saves us. We repent and are absolved. All of it is Christ’s work. Our repentance is worthless without his absolution. His work saves. So, the family just need to find a faithful church and pastor to hear the truth that Christ is faithful.

  36. Thought provoking – thanks. This suggests that traditional churches that are preaching uncompromising, Biblically sound sermons, are teaching children the fundamental doctrines, maintaining doctrinal integrity in their worship through the hymns, and emphasizing the principles of self denial and dedication to Christ have a greater retention rate. Does the data show this? Unfortunately, no.

    Kids who are raised in homes where an authentic, compassionate Christianity is being lived out with humility and passion have a much higher retention rate regardless of church type or style. Retention is high when parents not only serve God, but maintain a loving, honoring relationship with their children that draws them to the God they serve.

    Before we throw our brothers and sisters from other churches under the bus (which disgusts young people who know dysfunction when they see it) let’s pray for restoration of true faith in our families. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:35

  37. Lysbeth says:

    Thank you so much!! As a seventeen year old, I’ve felt many of the things you mentioned (though I’m still in the church because of some great friends/teachers/self-studying). I especially appreciate points number 7 and 6. :)

  38. TheGadfly says:

    I’d like to reply to Andy’s comment but there is no “Reply” button for his comment. What’s going on here? You only get to reply to comments that the moderator decides are eligible? Howsabout some free exchange of ideas? …nah, let’s just quote non-scientists from answersingenesis and then not let anybody respond. That sounds intellectually honest, don’t you think?

    • marc5solas says:

      Or, you could debate creationism with the folks at answersingenesis? This isn’t a creationism forum, it’s the comment section regarding why youth are leaving the church. I appreciate your passion, but there are forums specifically designed for that debate.

    • Andy says:

      I respect Marc’s right to limit the debate of side issues on his personal blog, but I have got to say… “non-scientists?” Dr. Jason Lisle graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy and minored in mathematics. He earned a master’s degree AND a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Colorado. He specialized in solar astrophysics and has made a number of scientific discoveries regarding the solar photosphere and has contributed to the field of general relativity. This guy is like a real Sheldon Cooper, minus the quirks and egotism.

      Just because you cannot bring yourself to agree with proven scientific evidence does not mean the scientist who discovered that evidence is wrong. It means you’re delusional.

      Lastly, George Wald is not from AnswersinGenesis.

  39. Jane says:

    We need to value and teach our children the history of the Church. The Church did not just start in our lifetime — we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Hymns writers, musicians, theologians, and pastors have written scores and scores of materials that we ought to use and build upon as we teach our children that Christ is not only relevant today, but He has shaped all of history up until now.

    The games, the gimmicks, and the dumbing down in order to attract is sickening. With whatever we use to draw people in, we will need to continue to provide that in order to keep them. If our youth need a cool culture in which to worship, we need to give them a higher view of worship that transcends our culture. There is a sense of awe and yes, formality when we come to worship. Wearing our jeans and having a cavalier approach simply sends the message that says, “Hey, God will be what we want Him to be. Let’s make Him casual like us.” Remember that the Israelites prepared for several days before they met God at the base of the mountain. It was an time of trembling and awe. We come before Him with a coffee cup and our iPads and expect to please Him. Shame on us.

  40. 4004BCorthereabouts says:

    Unarmed should be #1, especially if going to college. We teach them all about the “sword” except how to “sword fight”. The literal interpretation of the book of Genesis is the least taught book from our pulpits and in our college and high school Sunday schools, yet it is the basis for defining what sin is and why we need a savior. If addressed at all in the church, it is from the compromise position with the humanist’s millions/billions of years derived from so-called science. The compromise surrenders the authority of scripture. Our kids are smart. Can a book that doesn’t get it right in the first chapter be expected to get it right later on?

  41. Emma says:

    I attended church in high school and became very disillusioned when the congregation resolved to read the entire Bible over the course of the year. My boyfriend (who had convinced me to attend church with him) was pressuring me to get baptized, so I embraced the idea. I understood what a big deal being baptized is and I wanted to make sure I fully understood before I made such a big step. I think everyone made it through Genesis, but there was a general disinterest in ‘the dry parts ‘. When given the choice of reading and discussing long dry passages or socializing and singing, socializing won out. In college I tried other church groups, but was uncomfortable wiith how much it was about social activities and how little they were interested in teaching me the tenants of the faith.

  42. Craig says:

    Well said, I was one of those kids who burned out on lying to myself and others… until I read the Book of Concord. After that those darned Lutherans got a hold of me and Christianity finally made sense.

  43. […] Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church – Although it’s not a perfect or fully unbiased assessment, I thought this was an interesting article examining why people, young and old, are leaving the Church (as in through means of leaving the “little ‘c’” churches, and thus in essence departing from Church, too): […]

  44. JGIT says:

    A very good article, but I think you left out one crucial point. The underlying cause of all these symptoms is indeed due to not preaching the Law and the Gospel as written in Scripture, but you forgot to mention that the Law does more than just condemn; it also brings life to those who guard it and teach it to others when it is combined with the Spirit, and it is how we love God and love others (Deut. 30, Psalm 119, Luke 10:25-37). The gospel which was preached at Sinai (Hebrews 4) has been largely ignored in modern Christianity, instead replaced by the vague platitudes of “love God” and “be nice” which you accurately condemn in this article.

    We need to get back to the gospel preached at Sinai and start loving God the way HE wants to be loved. Only when we do that will we see our youth stay in the church.

  45. […] “Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church” – 10 reasons why Christian youth are leaving church. […]

  46. […] This guy has just made a few waves on a popular subject among die-hard clergymen and their even harder to die fans. I know I might be accused of being offensive with regard the holly crowd, but it is my reflexes acting pre-emptively and, since the pre-emptive attack seems to be kosher for a large majority of Christians, I thought I will use it just as well. Shoot me if you don’t like it. […]

  47. jerusha1948 says:

    PLEASE, please, please, make the font size bigger so we can read it more easily!!

    • Kenneth Synco says:

      Try holding down the Ctrl key and and use the + or – keys to change the display size. I only became aware of this little trick a couple of weeks ago from my pastor. Hope it helps.

    • Carole says:

      All fonts on the computer drive me crazy because of my bad eyes. I just Control + 2 or 3 times and the font becomes bigger. In a document you have a percentage on the bottom right (MS word and others). You can bump it up to 500%…Under view in Windows Explorer you can up it to 400%. I love it except I need a bigger screen on my laptop.

  48. Debra-Lynn Swearingen says:

    SPOT ON! I’ve taught school children/ youth in 4 different denominations, and personally searched for truth in 20 churches within 15 denominations. One sad similarity I found- the majority of churched children cannot articulate their faith, let alone the GOSPEL beyond the subjective. There is a Theology of Glory (what we do) vs. a Theology of the Cross (what Christ has DONE) at work here. The former leans heavily on Moral Progression, as you’ve point out so well. Altho you’ve alluded to this, it bears prominence- a common result in the face of failing at moral progression is the assessment that “I must not be a Christian”. Given the standards put forth by Theologians of Glory, it is not hard to see this concept leading to a mass exodus of the church. We must understand and teach there is a difference between neglecting and rejecting the faith. While we all want our youth to continue in the faith, the likelihood is questioning and doubt will arise. And this can be good, prompting further study and discernment! However, the Theologian of Glory so closely ties moral progression/ works to the evidence of faith, that when one fails to become a ‘better’ Christian, salvation is questioned. Not only by the Christian himself, but by all those standing by- trained and ready to “squeeze their fruit”. The end result of such scrutiny leaves no reason to come back. Within the Theology of the Cross construct, an absence from church results in a ‘starvation of the faith’. We pray and await our youths return where they will hear the word that grows faith and remember that it is Christ ‘outside of them and for them’ that sealed their faith. As a parent awaiting adulthood for my own sons, and knowing a future hope, I am tremendously grateful that we have been set free from the bondage of the Theology of Glory and find peace in the Theology of the Cross. Thanks be to God!

  49. Anonymous Student says:

    I left because my church community only lived up to their doctrines on Sundays or in the presence of other church members, because the feeling of being sinful and unworthy of God’s love outweighed any positive feelings about myself. Politics were being preached from the pulpit (campaign podium?). I knew it was inevitable to sin again as much as I could try not to, and so I knew that the guilt-induced depression was also inevitable. I could have sought treatment or medication, but what was I going to say? “I’m miserably sad because Jesus loves me and I don’t deserve it.” A teen’s self-esteem is so fragile and fleeting, which is why I think some churches chose to water-down the Message, rendering it ineffective.

    I tried other church communities after I moved for college, finding more of the same or sometimes worse, never feeling comfortable or welcome at any. So I tried christian organizations at the school, but found the “jumbo-tron pizza-party” atmosphere I’m not comfortable with as a natural introvert. After my freshman year, I transferred out of state. I became closer to our Creator the more I learned about the world, awe-struck at the complexity of life, the size of the universe, and the daunting feats accomplished by men of antiquity.

    I still do not attend church, my communion is in my morning cup of coffee or a hike through the hills. My praise, a simple session in front of a keyboard. My fellowship is every day with anyone I meet. I didn’t abandon church, I took it with me. I have been happy with my relationship with God and Christ ever since.

    • marc5solas says:

      And this is precisely why I began this blog. It’s truly tragic that someone loaded you with the burden of the law and left you there. You know you haven’t (and can’t) live up to the law. And your “guilt induced depression” is proof. To coin a powerful phrase of scripture, “But God” (Romans 5:8) has atoned for those sins, including the sins of unbelief and depression. You’re carrying a load that’s not yours to carry. I would be happy to continue this conversation with you offline. There is rest in the gospel!

    • Carole says:

      Please don’t feel bad about not deserving of Jesus’ love. We all sin and fall short, but JESUS loves us anyway. THAT IS WHY HE CAME. I feel so blessed that Jesus loved me first…

  50. Well written, I have said as much concerning the church and it’s members in my own blog. I’ll be sure to come back here and read up on what else you’ve said. Thank, and much love

  51. Thank you. There is more and more of a recognition of this problem and its source/s.

  52. calanon says:

    Excellent writing. In fact, I am now 21, and one of those who was soon to leave the church, but then I took a good, hard look at the Bible. Praise God, while I am still learning, that He has shown me a better way!

  53. Jon Dennis says:

    I really like your post overall. I think most of these reasons are very accurate, I have only one point of contention I’d like to share to maybe help your thought process out.

    You seem to put a lot of wait into what the pastor wears and how the service is formatted. While I certainly agree that without the message of the gospel, without orthodox theology and teaching about the true doctrine of the church, the trappings and attempts to look like those you are ministering to are useless, it seems from your writing that you think those things are actually wrong, which I would disagree with. I believe that when coupled with the truth of the gospel, an attempt to create an environment where the lost in your community feel safe and comfortable can in fact be an aid to ministry. Even Paul said that he had become “all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some”.

    So, to summarize, I really enjoyed your post overall, but I feel like you might’ve inadvertently given the impression that church can’t be deep while also being “relevant” in style.

    • marc5solas says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, Jon. I do not believe that style necessarily negates substance. I’ve heard J.I. Packer speak the gospel in full pastoral robes, and heard Matt Chandler faithfully preach the gospel in an entirely different format. I’ve even had the opportunity to meet Lecrae and hear him beautifully handle the gospel. These 3 men couldn’t be any more different stylistically. My problem would be someone like JI Packer (or Matt Chandler) dressing like Lecrae, mimicking his speech in an attempt to be “relevant”. To see the incredible variety of contexts and cultures in which the gospel is presented has always been incredibly moving to me, so if I gave the impression that style was limited, I apologize. The point i’m trying to make is that when we pragmatically start with style, we very quickly (and very subtly) move ourselves into making the gospel “stick”, which is the role of the Holy Spirit.

  54. […] a thought-provoking blog post by “Marc5Solas” called “The Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church.” He says that 70 percent of our youth drop out of church after they graduate high school, and only […]

  55. Jason says:

    This is the best thing I have read on the Internet in a long time. Thank you.

    • marc5solas says:

      Soli Deo Gloria, Jason! I’m just a clumsy waiter delivering the chef’s 5-star cuisine. ;)

      • Jason says:

        I put this up for consideration on my blog and on the discussion forum for the Centurions–a worldview training program started by Chuck Colson. I am trying to get as many people to read it as I am able.

  56. Heather Dyche says:

    Thank you!

  57. Will says:

    Yes, some kids are smart and other kids lack intelligence. Some are academically inclined and others not at all. One thing kids do not have is life experience or discernment brought about by years of failure and success, disappointment and shock, or the highs and lows over decades that cause humans to question then submit to the truth of who Christ is and the eternal implications of what He’s done in our lives. Contrary to the Evangelical church’s opinion, their’s is not a unique, special generation chosen by God to show adults some new path to spiritual or practical truth. This “now generation” “one generation” speak so popular in today’s version of church is nothing more than a catch phrase that panders to kid’s sense of wanting what their parents have now without having to invest for it, in this case the right to lead. How do we know this? The very fact that 70% of them will not even be attending church within a few years is proof enough. The church’s penchant for pandering to youth culture, and youth in general, is enough evidence that we have been unduly influenced by a culture we claim needs to change. Until our leadership stops emulating and secretly admiring that which it rails against from pulpits, mega churches will continue to be a giant, revolving door.

  58. midnightq says:

    Reblogged this on MidnightQ and commented:
    Reblogging from Marc5Solas

  59. Andy says:

    Legality aside, copyright infringement’s kind of a faux pas. Image in #4 is taken from here, without attribution to the author:

    • Andy says:

      Whoops! Just saw that I missed your ‘note’ at the bottom. Disregard my last post, or feel free to delete both if this thread’s pending moderator approval.

      • marc5solas says:

        I’ll leave it up, Andy. Hopefully people will see either my sourcing note or your comment. Don’t feel bad, I’ve gotten several comments regarding source! ;)

  60. Andrew says:

    I’m a high school pastor myself and am basically in agreement with what you lay out here as a better approach to youth ministry (though I might suggest that you take a closer look at some of the stats you start with – some of the surveys those come from are pretty questionable). Well said, on the whole.

    I wonder if part of all of this is that the youth ministry resource machine is driven almost entirely by more pragmatic ministry approaches. I’m thinking here of the approaches of folks like Youth Specialties or Doug Fields/Saddleback. I have been helped by some of these people along the way, but where is the theologically-driven youth ministry resourcing? Where is there a truly Bible-centered, gospel-centered youth youth ministry organization? There is so much good ecclesiological thinking happening right now and I’m grateful for all of it. But when will 9Marks or Desiring God or whoever else dedicate some resources to youth?

    I simply wish it wasn’t the case that when a youth pastor went looking for good ministry thinking, he had very few dependable dedicated resources.

    Andrew Faris
    Someone Tell Me the Story

    • marc5solas says:

      Spot on, Andrew, though a little deeper into the “why” than I took this article. Most of these methods are driven by the underlying theology of Finneyism and Pragmatism.

  61. mike says:







  62. Shit. Gonna have to change that whole “Love God, Love people” thing we’ve used for 15 years… Or not. Hopefully, context makes the difference. I’m going to have to stick with JC on that one and still believe those are the heart of the matter.

    Thanks for the article. Very insightful. I would suggest that form or style, to a degree, only matters to the extent we are trying to pursue a “style”. I’ve been there and done that, and failed miserably.

    However, when we, as a church and leaders, are just being who we are whether it’s old school, new school, or anywhere along the range, I have found that young and old respond and engage. Stop trying to be authentic, and just be. I stopped trying to make church members a long time ago, and instead invite our church folks to walk a journey with me that matters more out in the world than it does in the church.

    Hopefully, I’m not fubaring that, too.

    • marc5solas says:

      Love God and Love others is the “heart of”… the LAW. No issue there as long as you realize the nature of the law and it’s use in breaking us and driving us to the gospel.. THEN used as a goal (which we fail every day in thought, word, and deed).

      Agree on the style, thing. As long as style doesn’t pragmatically drive the message, we need folks preaching the gospel in all contexts and to all men everywhere.

  63. Brian says:

    I like the direction you’re heading with this. I think you are onto something, but I would also like to say something different. If many of these evangelical churches, mega-churches, etc were doing a better job, eg, not capitulating to culture, actually discipling and teaching its children, etc, then perhaps these kids would have left the church (assuming they had a choice) long before their faith was tested out on their own. Jesus didn’t actually make it as easy as we do. Sure, he made the way open to all who believe, but he also drove away multitudes. He seemed to deliberately polarize people. We are way too quick to put the conversion notch on our belts. Christians should be known by their fruit, not by their profession. I also wonder if many of the parents of these apostate kids would have left the church if Jesus was their pastor. (Or maybe they would just find a different church that meets their needs)

    On the other hand, I want to be honest about my confusion on this subject, because there is also the parable of the tares to take into consideration. ‘Yeah, you’ll have that.’

    But back to The Parable of the Sower. Yes, many churches may need to be more faithful, but maybe we also need to change our expectations about the results of faithful christian ministry. Perhaps the normal germination period for the ‘seed’ of the gospel is about 10-15 years, which is about how long it takes for a kid to have their faith tested in real world situations.

  64. Bryan C says:

    I read this article (and many of the replies that followed) and couldn’t disagree with it more for two reasons:
    1. I feel the basis of his entire article is wrong because according to Deut 6 the home is to be the main discipleship center in a child’s life…not church. Many parents (but not all) are not taking ownership of this area in the lives of their kids and blaming the church and its leaders when their children walk away.
    2. Paul clearly changed his method of reaching various people of various backgrounds without changing his message (1 Cor 9). The message is the most important thing we have, but too often we expect an unsaved, unchurched world to fall in line with the truth without an effort of relationship from us…”become like me first, then I can be associated with you”…I am glad Christ didn’t take that stand.
    I agree that there needs to be balance, but I do not see why church needs to be boring. I feel that you have made a sweeping generalization that pastors change their method to be cool…when many that I know change their method to reach a different group than they usually reach. I think it is very dangerous to assume you know why someone is telling the message like they are (although you may be right in a few cases, you certainly didn’t make it clear that some do it successfully and for the right reason). The message we have is the most exciting truth that anyone could EVER hear…and yet so many Christians hold it so tightly, refusing to let others in on their treasure. Church should be the most exciting, joyful, fun and intriguing place on earth. Leading the unchurched people around us to say, “I want some of that…”
    I really enjoy thinking about stuff like this! The church body should always be concerned with the question, “Are we doing the best job possible to reach as many unchurched/unsaved people as possible?” Thanks!!!

    • marc5solas says:


      “1. I feel the basis of his entire article is wrong because according to Deut 6 the home is to be the main discipleship center in a child’s life…not church. Many parents (but not all) are not taking ownership of this area in the lives of their kids and blaming the church and its leaders when their children walk away.”

      While there is clearly a “home” element to this, my call is to the church to live up to the charge to preach the gospel faithfully. The issue is an underlying pragmatism has driven methodology (and in turn dramatically changed the message).

      “2. Paul clearly changed his method of reaching various people of various backgrounds without changing his message (1 Cor 9). The message is the most important thing we have, but too often we expect an unsaved, unchurched world to fall in line with the truth without an effort of relationship from us…”become like me first, then I can be associated with you”…I am glad Christ didn’t take that stand.”

      Agree with the first sentence. As to the second, it rings a bit pragmatic to me. I’ve been commanded to preach the gospel and make disciples. I absolutely do *not* expect the unregenerate to fall in line (or in love) with the gospel, nor do I round off the rough edges of the gospel in order to not offend the unregenerate. (To paraphrase Spurgeon, “entertain goats instead of feeding sheep”)

      “I agree that there needs to be balance, but I do not see why church needs to be boring.”

      I don’t ever recall saying that church needs to be boring. I certainly don’t believe that. I also don’t believe that we should work to make it “not boring”. Wrong focus.

      “I feel that you have made a sweeping generalization that pastors change their method to be cool…when many that I know change their method to reach a different group than they usually reach. I think it is very dangerous to assume you know why someone is telling the message like they are (although you may be right in a few cases, you certainly didn’t make it clear that some do it successfully and for the right reason).”

      No issue here. I know elderly pastors who take the gospel to young inner-city youth. I think that’s awesome. But the danger is pragmatism driving the message.

      “The message we have is the most exciting truth that anyone could EVER hear”


      …and yet so many Christians hold it so tightly, refusing to let others in on their treasure.

      Church should be the most exciting, joyful, fun and intriguing place on earth. Leading the unchurched people around us to say, “I want some of that…””

      And that’s where you lose me. I have no interest in being (or the church being) so fun and intriguing that people “want some of that”. That’s a great marketing plan for a theme-park, but it’s not our goal. I think over coffee, you and I would be on the same page. For all the positives of this format, it certainly has limitations. ;)

      “I really enjoy thinking about stuff like this! The church body should always be concerned with the question, “Are we doing the best job possible to reach as many unchurched/unsaved people as possible?”

      And here we’re really going to disagree. Our concern should be “are we accurately preaching the gospel and accurately handling His word to make disciples”. It’s not my job, nor am I capable of “reaching” people. I’m called to correctly handle the word, faithfully proclaim the gospel, and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit as God grows His church. I won’t go out of my way to make it boring, nor will I worry about making it “relevant”. By it’s very nature it is relevant.


      Thanks you! Appreciate the kind words and challenges you laid out.


    • Andrew says:


      Regarding your “1”, I think the family-driven youth ministry model has pretty significantly overstated its exegesis of Deut. 6, first, and second, has pretty significantly understated its appropriation of the NT model of the church as the family.

      Even if Deut. 6 does say that the family is the main place that a student grows in the knowledge and love of God, what of Jesus’ stunning words that “those who do the will of the Father are my mother and brothers and sisters?” What of the nearly ubiquitous use of the word “brother” as Paul’s designation for fellow Christians?

      Obviously, godly parents ought to seek to raise godly kids. But in the NT, the church is the community of discipleship, and godly parenting means integrating children into the life of a good, healthy church.

      Which brings up another thing I don’t get about the family-driven model: if parents are raising their kids in a godly manner while at the same time involving their kids in a church’s youth ministry, and if that youth ministry is truly gospel-centered, then what is the parent not doing? It’s not like youth pastors are coming to a students’ house and saying, “Hey parents! Stop reading the Bible with your kids! That’s my job!”

      Why can’t both happen, like my own Dad did with me?

      It seems to me that the broader problem is that ministry models driven by pragmatism aren’t making disciples of students in youth ministries or of parents outside of them. The family-driven model ends up bearing fruit mostly because they are simply taking discipleship more seriously in general. Which is a good thing, of course.

      Just my two cents as I keep trying to sort through all this myself.

      Andrew Faris
      Someone Tell Me the Story

    • Will says:

      Brian, You assume a great deal in what you say. Pastors dressing like 21-year-olds and engaging in some type of dog and pony show following a salon boy band concert might seem hip and relevant to middle America or the Deep South, resulting in some surfacey impression that the unsaved are swept into the kingdom by a convoluted sense that… “look! The Christians are just as cool as anyone else! I guess I vicariously understand the doctrines of sanctification and justification, as a result!” The OP’s point was exactly that , pitifully, the church looks less cool and “relevant” the harder it tries. It doesn’t work. It’s like watching a pathetic old man hitting on a young girl. Only the church thinks the church looks cool when emulating pop-culture. The “world” honestly laughs and shakes its head. The point is that we’re supposed to be offering the simple reality of a warning against that which is to come, and how to escape it. Nothing more. God takes care of the rest.

  65. James Hayhurst says:

    Marc, a brilliant analysis–thank you so much!

    It’s my observation that our congregations, and our youth, go into the world filled with bible stories and subjective feelings–not objective, robust reasons for the Christian world view. We are ill-prepared, or more accurately, utterly unprepared to defend and live out our faith in Christ. A core problem is we (parents, the church) teach our kids to have “faith” without teaching the basis of faith–unshakable confidence in the promises of Christ, based on proper instruction (arguments and evidence), the validity of biblical revelation and the experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives . . . thus we have joy and hope, even though there are difficult/unknowable/unanswered questions (how exactly did God create the universe and life, the problem of evil, life after death, etc., etc.) . . .

    The point I’m trying to get at is best explained with a metaphor: learning to swim.

    As an adult Christian, I can honestly say that I never learned to “swim” (that is, never learned to express or defend my faith/hope in the sea of secularism in which we live). Why? Because I was never was taught to “swim.” It was only decades after becoming a Christian, after a modest self-study course in apologetics (few if any churches offer this) that I felt I knew how to “swim”–that is, to give reason for my hope (1 Peter 3:15). If I couldn’t do it, how could I expect my son or daughter to sustain their faith in the world?

    And yet, I taught them both how to swim (physically) as toddlers–a basic life survival skill. If we think of a apologetics as a basic Christain life survival skill, then perhaps the faith of our children can survive in the sea of secularism outside the safety of the church.

    In conclusion, I believe one solution is that we should teach both adults and children basic apologetics. And further, to expand the metaphor, we should learn to swim in the riptides and waves of the sea, that is, to expose ourselves to debates between atheists (athiests, or ath*#sts, as you like) and leading apologists. For this advanced training, I’d recommend the debates of leading apologists such as Dr. William Lane Craig or Mike Licona vs. Christopher Hitchens, et. all, found here:

  66. Great stuff. I wish that youth groups would teach their kids apologetics – not just the basics, but to really study it. We need to love God with our minds as well.

  67. deegentry121 says:

    Outstanding!!! Love Love Love it!!! so much truth it hurts!!!

  68. Seems like the key is whether or not the gospel is CENTRAL because you can have a church that aims to be relevant/current that still communicates the gospel clearly. Where that is still the focus. I don’t think it has to be one or the other…

    But it clearly can’t be relevant at the COST of substance…

    I came away thinking that the key is that there must be TRUE substance (regardless of the method) and the goal has to be bigger than winning kids to a particular church, but the goal must be capturing their hearts in a deep, life-impacting way for Him, to whole-hearted love and devotion and obedience. Whatever the means and method…

    This made me thankful to be in a church where from every angle…I see the music, message, etc. pointing to Jesus and the Cross. It was also convicting to think about these responses from a parenting angle… (I wanted that to be part of the article)

  69. DUDE!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE This article… thank you for the courage to say it!!!! Our church is very ‘unrelevant’ but slowly growing- we have a church of about 200 and a youth group of about a dozen. But our youth group night consists of worship and preaching!!!

  70. […] drift from the faith? 70% of our children quit attending church after high school. Here are the Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church. If you think we can do a better job of preparing our children at Bowman, I’m open to your […]

  71. John Varland says:

    Amazing, insightful,and accurate thoughts. Thank you for sharing them. But please don’t lump me, a thinking Evangelical, into the ‘best life now’ prosperity crowd.

  72. Reblogged this on jameslhayhurst and commented:
    Brilliant analysis of why Christian kids abandon their faith

  73. Aiedaile says:

    I am posting as a child who left the church pretty much straight after high school.
    I did attend church, having to sit in pews in between screaming kids and elderly with Oxygen tanks, I did have a community that (mostly) supported me, and I did have parents who, for the later part of my life, attended with me. I was deep in the church, spending hours volunteering in the summer and participated in my youth praise band that even performed during regular church services. I found myself moved by the Holy Spirit and drew beautiful pictures to go along with song lyrics as they touched my soul.
    Why did I leave then? It stopped making sense to me. I’m only 24 so it’s only been about 5 years since my leaving, but the hurt is still very fresh. After being told again and again that I wasn’t worthy of the love God was giving and that the love was out of pity, I stopped wanting it. After being belittled by so-called friend for even speaking to non-Christians without preaching at them, I became a hermit because with friends like that who needed enemies.
    I still attend Church on the very rare occasion because even though He is no longer my primary diety, I still have a relatively good relation with Christ. He protects people I love, including my parents, so I see no reason to give up praying to Him on their behalf if the need arises.
    Do I see myself ever calling myself Christian again…no. There is far too much hippocrasy and hate associated with that word in my head for me to ever return to it. I will always consider myself a pupil of Christ though as His words touched me and taught me much throughout the vast majority of my life.

    • Carole says:

      It is good to be with other Christians, which the Bible says we need to do. If I worried about hypocrites (frauds and phonies) I would never go to school, work, the store, etc. They are everywhere, not just the church. So, I don’t let that stop me. Also, I left the church at 20 and went back at about 50. Better late than never. Of course, I am still paying the price of leaving and doing what I wanted to do and be. Too bad because I am sure God had planned a much better life for me. Makes me very sad for me and also my family. No matter though because I now work at it all the time. I fail and sin, but get back up when Jesus says; “come, I love you,” and I go.

    • MaryB9 says:

      Aiedaile I understand

  74. Matt Jamison says:

    May I suggest what I think may be a very radical idea: teach and practice individual confession and absolution.

    The first time I confessed before the robed pastor in the front of the church it was an extremely difficult and uncomfortable experience, followed by a radical assurance of God’s forgiveness and grace as promised in scripture. Here is where things got interesting: in church I had always been taught to “try a little harder to do a little better” so I always came into God’s house on my best behavior wearing a false and hypocritical front. Wearing my best clothes, so to speak

    But in confession I am naked. There is no room for hypocrisy, pride, arrogance or any kind of falseness. To speak the truth of my specific, wretched sin before God’s altar was terrifying. The grace that followed swallowed up that terror in the flood of God’s grace for me for the sake of His dead and risen Son.

  75. It's always funny in Philadelphia says:

    Reblogged this on Elliot M. Tate and commented:
    If you think being relevant is attracting kids and young people in general to the church, think again.

  76. Kelsinka says:

    Thanks for this post! It really made me think, as a pastor’s wife and a mother of teenagers. The first questions in my mind were about all the additional reasons young people leave church (reasons that they possibly can’t or won’t verbalize) that do not indict the church, such as;
    1. The virtual world- many youth are addicted to gaming, social networking, and dare I say, porn! The church cannot compete with the thrill kids get online and there are plenty of studies now showing the impact that gaming/porn has on the brain and development.
    2. Narcissism-
    3. Sin- sometimes people love their sin and decide to adopt a new belief system that justifies their behavior so they won’t feel guilty any more.
    These, and many other reasons, are also very real and just as concerning to me as the reasons you gave above. My 14-year old already wants to quit church because he’d rather stay in his room and do Mindcraft/play video games. But will any young person admit when interviewed, “Why did I drop out of church? I find real social interaction awkward because I sit behind my laptop for 10 hours a day.”? There has never been a generation with so much potential and so many obstacles at the same time. Sorry if this sounds pessimistic. It’s just where I am at the moment.

    • AmandaW says:

      Kelsinka, your comment doesn’t sound pessimistic. You sound like a Mom who is understandably concerned for her kids. As a minister to youth and a Mom to teenagers, I hear you.

      The virtual world is thrilling indeed. It allows our kids to become superstars, receiving ‘praise’ from the masses – essentially becoming their own god. It allows our kids to become murderers, thieves, and sex objects…all without natural consequences. I have to agree that the church cannot compete with virtual reality. But Jesus can. There is nothing more fulfilling, more satisfying, more thrilling than an abiding faith in Jesus. It bears fruit. When we get even a taste of God working supernaturally in our lives or in the lives of those around us…well, it’s a high. So then it stands to reason that our failing is not having accurately presented the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the law.

      I’m not sure when we began to pretend, as the church, that it was our job to make believers. That responsibility is God’s alone. We are commissioned to make disciples. To do that, we require something to teach and someone who wants to be taught. Insert apologetics here. Jesus will draw people to Himself. We can draw people to the church…where they can be introduced to Him. We don’t need a degree in marketing but if there are things we can do not to make people feel welcome but to show them that they ARE welcome, let’s do it. Most of those things will take place outside of the church building, if we’re being honest. So long as we are not making godless compromises, let’s meet people where they are. I think there is a vast difference between trying to relate to people and trying to sell them something. We can’t trick people into discipleship. (Is disciplewhip a word? Perhaps it should be.)

      Marc Solas, thanks for the article. I’ve been reading it and the ensuing discussions all day. It’s been time well spent.

  77. Eileen Moravetz says:

    Hey, Mike, sometimes I have noticed in the youth around the country – that they are fed “ice cream” reliegion, all sweetness, etc. then when its time to put the pedal to the metal, they have no power, and never had it to begin with. I remember when I was young, 19, 20, 25 and we ran our fellowships, there were 3 types, (see book of Acts) 1) some beleived, 2) some believed not, 3) we willlhear thee again (we called them the “hear thee agains”) alot of kids already “have their needs met” and aren’t “hurting ” for anything, so are so hungry and hurting and they have not heard the word, but the ones who Have, and leave and get involved in the world, have not been taught the depth, meat, richness spiritual power of the Word to have deep roots…during the years they were in church, did they pray and recieve results? did they build a personal relatiionship with God/Jesus Christ? were they taught how to do simple Biblical research s- they can learn and see how the Word can turn them on? “Study to show THYSELF….” had they been taught how to do that? were they taught to confess sin, accept forgiveness and get up and walk again or were they so overwhelmed with sin they simply said to heck with it? I can’t help but think the baby boomers (of whom i am one of) could have done a more in-depth job, by holding ourselves accountable, showing them how to walk in the light and love and be loved by God….in the home, praying for everything, something is lost, thw whole house stops and prays, etc… .just some of my thoughts….

  78. […] Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church. […]

  79. cdr says:

    This list failed to mention the judgement that comes from the “Christians” in the church. As young adults with our own style and point of view, we are judged the second we walk through the doors of a church. We come in jeans and the older people look at us like we’re going to hell. We show up in a dress down to our ankles and long sleeves and the adults look at us like we’re crazy. We feel judged for being ourselves. We feel judged for our flaws and mistakes. That is why the youth don’t return to church.

  80. PuritanicalBaptist says:

    Reblogged this on Augustinian Reformed Puritanical Baptist and commented:
    Great blog recommended to me. Don’t treat teenagers like ‘kids’ in church. Treat them like adults, and they will rise to the occasion! Don’t coddle them. Equip them with the historic Christian faith! Thirteen-year-olds CAN get the Trinity, love the Trinity, and proclaim the Trinity. The same is true for all the deep things of the Gospel of the grace of God. I’ve seen it! It is amazing!

  81. Nicholas Tieman says:

    If we’re going to pick a dirty word here, why “relevant?” Okay, because it’s a buzzword of the evangelical offenders, but really, what’s irrelevant about the proper application of Law and Gospel in a way people can actually hear and understand? Beats blind “proclamation” that thinks speaking words is enough even if we end up condemning the repentant or affirming sin, or, more likely than not, failing to communicate any message at all by speaking in an impenetrable mishmash of churchinese.

    These “big box” churches FAIL at being relevant by giving people what they think they want, and a poor version of it at that. Their problem is not that they’re relevant. It’s that they’re not relevant enough. They don’t give people a real view of their sin, a real hope, or a real faith. When God allows us to share his Word and we are blessed to see the fruits, we should not rejoice in our “irrelevance,” but the successful, relevant application of God’s truth.

  82. RC says:

    As one of those teens who left the church and came back, I have something to add (that falls into a couple of your areas). Teach your children/youth the BIBLE! I started life at a church that taught our Sunday School and Children’s church classes straight out of the Bible. We read our scripture and then discussed and asked questions. After moving our new church taught out of some book that someone somewhere decided was age appropriate (I was in High School by this time). It was so remedial and it only referenced scripture. I learned nothing for the next three years and was not challenged nor did I grow in Christ during such a pivital time. I left the church during college and came back after I was married (to a non-Believer). The Bible is the answer to many of these 10 issues cited. Any child of any age can learn straight from the Bible.

  83. This is incredible wisdom! May I re-print this in our church newsletter? (will naturally give you credit…)

  84. Nicholas Tieman says:

    I would also add, for anyone from a liturgical tradition (like myself) that may be patting themselves on the back right now, how much apologetics training do you really get from a proper Lutheran sermon? If it sticks properly to the proclamation of Law and Gospel, a diversion into the problem of evil or other more technical matters could possibly be considered an abberrance. Sunday school is a much more appropriate venue for such matters, but who’s to say people are actually coming? And again, any teaching given must be accessible to the most likely limited theological vocabulary of the audience, otherwise you might as well have put an iPod full of sermon recordings on auto-loop in your closet.

  85. Eric says:

    So simple, they left the church because they didn’t take Christianity seriously. Period.

  86. Excellent article. The youth ministry world needs to recognize that a shift has taken place with students because of postmodernism and make a change now. The evidence is clear that the status quo that has governed youth ministry thinking for the past 3 decades isn’t working anymore and is failing miserably. We are losing a generation of young people.

    I’m currently addressing this issue with my J.High students this month with our sermon series, “Apologetics.” Check out the series bumper:

    God bless!

  87. I must say…what a breath of fresh air!!! I am a missionary in the Philippines and we teach “Justification” and “Santification” to young children here. They get it!!! They understand. I always say….if you don’t know your God you don’t know anything….then you don’t know the Holy Spirit….you don’t who Christ is… how can you be saved? When you don’t even know why you have sin in your life…..the reason we are losing our children???? The adults do not know God and his plan!!! The Great Apostasy!!! God’s word says that many of his people are destroyed due to the lack of knowledge…the knowledge of who we are in Christ!!!! That is where the real power is that we can stand through anything that the world will throw at us through standing on the word of God and knowing if I die today because of the problem I have still win!!! Because God made sure to give me victory through the blood of Christ that even in death there is no sting!!!! For my God is with me wherever I am. I can go forever because I LOVE My God My Savior and My Lord!!! Until you really know you cannot LOVE God or other is not possible.

  88. KT says:

    I think the term “hypocrite” comes from being told one thing by the staff and pulpit but in reality the staff does exactly what u’ve been told not too in private. U get told how wrong it is to do something yet their own children still living in their home are participating in those same activities you’ve just been judged for doing. I think that’s where the hypocrisy comes from.

    • marc5solas says:


      That’s certainly a problem. Much of it comes from an unwillingness to admit our sin. I can tell you I sin every day in thought, word, and deed by not loving God with ALL my heart, mind, and soul. I also don’t really live my neighbor as myself (especially in traffic). To claim that I don’t sin, or meet that standard (and then lay that burden to be perfect) is what creates hypocrites. I’m sorry you’ve seen bad examples in this regard.

  89. One more thing….evil will always be in the world until we leave this world. What are children do is an outside version of their heart content. You cannot stop evil by taking away things. Like computers, and on and on….you give them the truth and the truth sets them free from evil vices. The vices disappear when the truth is allowed to soak in a child and he starts a relationship with Christ. God then pulls those vices out once and for all. So all of us with different vices…God will work with you and pull those out by the root and set you free to walk with him in another cleaned up area of your heart…we always try to go in and fix it ourselves…God taught me out here in the missionary field — my job is to give the information (gospel) it is God’s job to fix the hearts. Don’t try to do God’s job.

  90. Steve Trout says:

    Good article. I would add one more. Not just youth, but since they are the subject, they don’t understand accountability. When one doesn’t know their is accountability it is easy to dismiss commitment to church and Jesus. They have not been taught there is accountability (judgement) because of politically correctness to leave eternal judgement out of church. Hell is real according to the Bible. I too have worked with youth and most don’t believe it. Thus, they don’t understand the consequences of not making Jesus Lord. Sad.. But you did a very good job with article and we appreciate your work.

  91. Brian says:

    What are the top 10 reasons half come back 10 years later? That will help more than the list provided here.

    • Arcus says:

      This would be interesting. My experience as a 30something that watched much of my high school class drift away and then return was that most of them never really “left.”

      They certainly stopped going to church (and for many of the reasons listed here), but most of them appear to never have stopped believing their church had the truth, it was just something they didn’t prioritize highly in their 20s.

      Specifically I noticed a lot of them becoming much more religious again after having children, and I think this fits with my assessment that they never actually “left” intellectually.

      The ones who went exploring outside the church and decided that maybe it didn’t have as many answers as they were taught, the vast majority of those ones are in the 50% that don’t return.

    • Robyn says:

      A lot of it has to do with having children of their own. I think that when we have our own children, speaking as a 30-something, we realize the importance of passing our faith to them, and that results in a return to church.

  92. Full of doubt says:

    Could be the guilt and doubt hammered into kids as they are constantly asked,”are you sure? Are you sure if you died tonight, you wouldn’t go to hell?” maybe they don’t want anything to do with THAT.

  93. Kirk M says:

    I’m one of these 20-somethings who grew up evangelical and have since left the Church, so thank you for this article. One thing you touched upon reminded me of something I noticed in youth groups, namely the idea of ‘arming’ kids. In church, we were taught straw men versions of differing worldviews and ideas in the context of, ‘these are the enemy, and here is how you beat them.’ In other words, how to dismiss, brush off, and shut down people who believe in something different than you. Differing view points were taught to us as obstacles to be overcome. By the way– the type of language used reminds me a lot of strategy guides for games I’ve played, e.g. “when he does X, you respond with Y for maximum damage” and so on.
    I find this aggressive stance regrettable, and I think it would greatly serve youth–I suppose I’m not quite out of the ‘youth’ bracket yet, being only 27–if instead they were taught about different worldviews in the context of being different, that they are different and why they are different, and given an in-depth exploration of them and being encouraged to analyze them for themselves. This would also encourage youth to think for themselves, something we seldom see in the church these days.
    Anyway, thank you very much for this.

  94. hollypolly says:

    I’m on the fence with how much effort to put into this reply, because on one hand, I’ve got a lot to say, but on the other, it seems like you guys don’t lend a lot of credit to opinions that don’t align with yours, and I don’t really feel like I’ll be listened to. But here are the top ten reasons I left the church:

    10. Church is often boring.

    9. It’s easier and more relaxing to stay home on Sunday mornings.

    8. One of the big reasons I went to church was to see my high school friends– when I went to college, my friends weren’t there, but I found a new church and made new friends. But when I moved to Seattle, those friends weren’t there, either.

    7. …which is just as well, because the friends I had at my small, college church? My ex-boyfriend got all of them in the breakup. Know how he did it? He told them that he had to break up with me because we’d “fallen into sin,” and everybody there thought we’d had sex, which we hadn’t, and some confronted me about it afterward. It was very confusing and humiliating for me. It was not the safe shelter that it should have been– AND, I hadn’t even “done it.”

    6. Most churches have a lot of hypocrites. I know from experience that people don’t act in church the way they act the rest of the time (See reason #1). Hell, I’ve done it myself– said things that I didn’t completely mean that I thought people would like, smiled and chitchatted more than I wanted to, wondered if I looked dumb with my arms up and eyes closed, singing a hymn. It felt like a show, it felt like a competition, it felt anything but natural and real. And I’m talking about “church” here, not “cool youth group.” My youth group was personal and intimate and great. We met in each other’s homes and I felt like they treated us like adults. And I still left the church.

    5. The emphasis on the sexes always made me feel uncomfortable. My youth group taught us ten ways to be a godly woman, and the boys learned ten ways to be a godly man, but I was always wondering why I couldn’t just be a godly person? Why is the definition of “good” different for a guy than it is for a girl? I didn’t feel angry about it, I was genuinely confused.

    For that matter, if Ruth and Ester and other Biblical women are so awesome and such great examples, why are they only exclusively studied in women’s Bible studies? Women still studied David and Peter with the men, but only WOMEN could learn from other women. It is a very weird attitude. Unless, and this isn’t what I’m concluding, but unless Christians really do think men are better or more important than women. Whether it’s true or not, it’s not a great feeling. (For a women, at least.)

    4. Why is there so much emphasis on getting married as soon as possible? That was weird, and it continues to be weird. When I came home from college and went to my childhood church, the only thing most adults wanted to hear about was what my husband prospects were. They practically mourned when “fallen into sin” guy dumped me. Now I’m 29, and I went to that church while I was in town this Christmas. My old youth group leader, whom I haven’t talked to in years, came over and lectured me about how to get my boyfriend to marry me, like NOW. She never even asked whether or not *I* wanted to get married.

    3. I don’t feel at home there, even when I was going to a really, really great church in Seattle. I couldn’t relax. I always felt judged. It wasn’t worth the stress I went through for a day or so afterward. I felt like it was affecting my health.

    2. A lot of Christians in my life have been judgmental and cruel to people different from them, especially homosexuals, Muslims, and atheists. Whether it’s mostly true or not, Christians are perceived as hateful, and I don’t want to be associated with them. There is no excuse for discrimination.

    1. I grew up with an abusive parent, who was also part of the church. No one believed someone who sat in church and prayed and said all the right things could possibly be lying, could possibly be a terrible, abusive, soul-destroying person. Even when things sometimes came to light, my whole family was expected to forgive and forget if there was an apology, no matter how many times it happened, because that’s what Jesus does. To this day, people in my family are struggling to overcome the lies that have been spread around town and are still being spread, and told that we need to forgive her because God forgives.

    Does it make a difference to you that my abusive parent is my mom, not my dad? Did you think, “Oh, it was the mother? Well, how bad could it really be?” Because people have trouble believing us, because she’s a woman and a mom. If I told a person in my church that my dad was abusing me, I bet everyone would have helped. In fact, my mom told lots of people in church and in town that my dad hit her, which was absolutely, completely a lie. But when it’s the world of a husband against a wife, everyone goes with the wife. Just like when it’s the world of a kid against a mom, everyone sides with the mom. Especially if the mom says things like “God led me to do this,” and “God placed this on my heart.” Even if the mom is a bad person. Why is it so hard for church people to believe that moms, even “Christian” moms, can be bad people? That’s what’s really driven me away. The only reason I go anymore is to show solidarity with my dad.

    • marc5solas says:

      Thank you for the honesty here. I want to show it the respect it deserves, so forgive me for not answering it tonight.

      In the meantime, please allow to say that I’m sorry for what happened to you.

    • Chris Barnes says:

      I was going to reply to the original article, but I think I might do better by replying to you (Holly). Let me start out by saying that (a) I while I am “someone’s kid” – I am probably not exactly who the OP author is thinking of (I’m 51). I say that in order to say (b) my wife & I have also “left the church”.
      Well, we kind of left – since we both still consider ourselves to be committed Christians, we don’t feel we left God’s church – we only left “organized religion”. Specifically, we quit going to church 3.5 years ago and spent the next 1.5 years looking for a new ‘church home’. But the search left us more disillusioned with formalized churches than we were before.

      But to answer you …
      10. Yes, church IS often boring. And the reason it’s boring is that it isn’t addressing the needs that each individual happens to have. Which is why some people can go to a church service and come out of it engaged and fulfilled while others (like you and me) are left either unfulfilled or (worse) actively disappointed.

      9. Yep, it is. And frankly, having gone to church every Sunday morning for my first 46 years, I didn’t even know how relaxing (isn’t having a day of rest what having a Sabbath was about to begin with???) it can be to just stay home.

      8. For years we have been taught that “church is not supposed to be a social gathering”. I have come to discover what a load of bunk that is. Having it as a social gathering is EXACTLY the need that church was fulfilling for me (and is the one and only thing I truly miss about not going now).

      7-2 IMHO are all pointing to the same thing, and is the real failure of today’s church – today’s church is the modern day Pharisees. Literally. And what is the over-riding characteristic of the Pharisees? They made up their own rules and tried to call it sin. In essence – they called things sin which were not sin.
      When Jesus walked the earth, they were the ONLY group that Jesus would go out of His way to condemn. He didn’t do it to the people who committed *actual* sins (eg. woman at the well). But it went beyond just Jesus condemning the Pharisees – He would mock them. He made fun of them. He belittled them. And on at least 1 occasion, He physically fought them.

      So, let’s use that modern day acronym – WWJD. If there is a group which calls things sin which are not sin, he would denigrate them. And what has the modern day church done – by and large, they do nothing but make up new sins. Drinking. Playing cards. Getting a tattoo. In some churches – raising your arms to sing a hymn; in other churches, it’s (almost) sinful if you DON’T raise your arms to sing a hymn (sound familiar?).

      Now that I’ve said all that – let me be clear – the Bible DOES outline somethings that are clearly a sin. The “big 10” (commandments) still apply. But hells-bells, if I eat meat given to idols, I’m not going to loose my salvation over it. Nor if I say “hells-bells”.

      As for your #1 – I have to admit I’m not qualified to help. Other than to say I’m not so sure that the church as a whole is to blame for them disbelieving you as much as it was those specific people in that church. But I admit I might be splitting hairs there. If it helps, yes, I believe you.
      I have only this to offer – ‘forgiving them’ does not mean ‘everything goes back to normal’. It is entirely appropriate that they still suffer the consequences of their actions – which means if “no further contact with you” is what you need, then so be it. It’s ok to say “I forgive you. Now never contact me again”. The forgiveness is for you – not her.

      • hollypolly says:

        Thanks for your kindness, Chris. I know I need to forgive her. I think I’m going to get some help with that.

    • Carole says:

      Jesus isn’t your mother. Hippocrites are everywhere. God is the one who judges, bad people will be judged, be sure of that. Jesus loves you no matter what, and He will never leave you. God Bless

    • vincelavello says:

      Thanks for sharing. You inspired some thoughts which I’ve listed by number:

      10. Boring: If the bible is not being taught well from the pulpit, nor studied well from the pew; I would be bored as well. And incidentally; nothing else should be occuring – there are far better forms of entertaiment availabe. Church is for building up and maturing the Christian; and the bible is an amazing phenomenon that should be explored to the fullest.

      9. Relaxing.. Funny, or sad but see #10.
      8. Friends: I am sensitive to that with my teens. See #3
      7. Boyfriend drama: A scripture comes to mind.. Matthew 18:7 quoted below #1. Jesus will hold him accountable.

      6. hypocrites: It may suprise you that the actual church has no hypocrites. Once you realize that the church is those people who belong to Christ, it changes how you feel towards Posers aka Hypocrites.. a genuine sense of pity arises from compassion (not condescendingly)
      If people could SEE JESUS they would no longer act.

      5. sexes. Ruth – is the most favored book by those interested in prophecy. Check out CHuck Missler at or Jon Amazing book; it’s like a trojan horse full of insights. But do you think there should be roles and responsibilities based on sex?

      4. married – I feel for you. went through a little of that but we waited anyway. Kids get married to young; my wife and I discourage the rush.

      3. @home: the way I found a home at church was to volunteer in childrens ministry, in homeless ministry. You really build genuine friendships in church when you serve along side – rather than just show up for the show – ya know? If your church is serving – find one that does OR start an outreach ministry yourself!

      2. judgmental: sadly I have been that at times for mixed reasons. One wanting to be; and wanting others to be Something were weren’t. – that is truly CHRISTian. It took some epic failures on my part to mellow out and see through more compassionate eyes.

      1. abuse. terrible. I feel for you. While harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping that your enemy will die! I think you will be suprised if you studied forgiveness in the bible – most people don’t study they just quote mine. Jesus does not forgive everyone. Consider this blast from Jesus against those who would ABUSE kids…

      Matthew 18:6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

      Yes. In that same chapter strong words are given about us forgiving others; but as you can see from that verse; there are limits.

    • Hannah says:

      Holly… I feel for you. For me, it was my step-father who abused me. But as we were missionaries, who’s going to believe that such a “nice man” could be doing those things… But it must be even worse for you with it being your mom. That’s sad definitely. I wish things could be different….

    • Barry Pierce says:

      So sorry to hear of your tough situations. Not what I’ve experienced first hand, but very close to others I know. Your comments have opened my eyes to see their situation in a new light, and I’m grateful.

      One thing that helps me is deal with sinful attitudes, words and actions among “Christians” (God only knows who’s a real one) is to realize we are all still sinners, including me and to try to extend the same grace I would want if the roles were reversed. The most difficult part here is to change the way I think about the situation and stop defaulting into my old emotion-based thinking, and think Biblically instead. If a mentally-handicapped person says or does something inappropriate, it is easy to extend grace because I know he’s handicapped. If a sin-infested person does likewise, I can also extend grace, if I remember he is handicapped by and a slave to the sin which rules him. I can either respond as a cop, or a coach — either catching him being naughty, or attempting to help him be good.

      My response is choice. But I must train myself to think in new ways.

      God has been dealing with my judgemental attitude since I surrendered myself to him over 30-yrs ago. Someetimes I still “miss the mark”, but I’m way better than I used to be.

      The key for me has been to adopt a Redemptive attitude toward myself and others–looking beyond the sin to see the person’s need — a need to be freed from sin’s penalty, power and presence. That person is not my enemy, Sin is the enemy — in him/her and in me.

      I have certainly offended and hurt others in church, and also been hurt and offended by others. It is virtually unavoidable when 2 or more sinners (= all of us) gather in one place. How we handle it is a test of our faith — whether we deal with it in Christlike, God-honoring ways or in ways of the flesh (see Peacemakers ministry for great help here).

      Another help for me has been being in small groups where we can be more open and interactive with one another in supportive, transforming ways, in addition to congregational worship.

      Lastly, a dear godly pastor from yrs ago (who himself had endured severe trials and mistreatment) frequently encouraged us to “make sure your trials send you running TO Jesus, not away from Him.” In a world full of trials, it’s the best advice I ever received. “In this world you will have tribulations, but take heart, I have overcome the world” — Jesus.

    • Robyn says:

      I agree with much of this. Thanks for saying it!

    • Holly, thank you for your honesty. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why most people leave–the unkindness of those calling themselves Christians. And the hypocrisy of their parents. My husband and I house-churched for a few years because we were beaten down by some of the craziness. We are back in a semi-traditional setting mostly because we were called to that place to minister to kids and families in foster care. By ourselves there is only so much we can do. As a group we can pool our resources and do so much more.

      Just to be honest here, sometimes I don’t act like Jesus. I get cranky, annoyed, impatient. We parents sometimes forget that we are messed up too–and that when we mess up we owe our kids an apology. We need to remember that we are just as much on this journey of struggling with our own selfishness as our kids are. We’re in this together.

      So sorry about your Mom. You deserved to be protected. The adults there failed you. Just remember that their sins are not a reflection of who God is.

      Having been horribly abused myself, I understand the questions and anger that are part of that struggle. I was angry with God for a period of time, but I wouldn’t admit it–I turned it toward everyone else. But God is big enough to withstand our anger. Reading the Psalms helped me a lot. The psalmists are real with God–not afraid to say things like “Where are you?” “Why have you deserted me?”.

      Just know that He loves you. Praying for you.

  95. Arcus says:

    Did you seriously just delete all of my replies? Come on, moderating comments isn’t THAT hard, especially since you’ve already accidentally deleted those of others. Perhaps it wasn’t accidental at all?

    Aside from my random snipe at Ray Comfort, they were all on topic and completely uninflammatory.

    Perhaps you should add a reason #11, where people stop placing so much trust in the wisdom of their Church leaders once they realize how hostile Christians usually are to allowing opposing viewpoints to speak for themselves?

    • marc5solas says:

      Again, I have no issue with opposing viewpoints. I’m just trying to keep these comments constructive and on-topic. Far too many people using this sacs forum for other tangents. I apologize, but there are discussion forums dedicated to those subjects.

      • Arcus says:

        My first comment, at least, was completely on-topic.

        This blog post completely missed some of the biggest reasons many youth leave Christianity, and I suggested a book that briefly articulates many of them from a very intimate, personal, and non-confrontational viewpoint. It would be an excellent place for any Christians anxious to understand what’s going through our minds to start, if indeed you’re genuinely interested in understanding us.

  96. Anita says:

    I blame parents. The church is merely a partner in our child’s spiritual education. There is absolutely nothing in scripture that tells anyone in a church to train or educate other people’s children in the ways of the Lord. It says PARENTS, train up your child. Parents should be setting the bar for spiritual education, not relying on their church to do it. There’s gonna be a lot of horrified Christian parents on that day when we face Christ and have to explain why we didn’t raise up our children properly in the faith, Don’t blame your kidchurch program for your failure to fulfill God’s call on you as a parent.

  97. eugeneshin says:

    back in 2009 or 2010… i thought the stat was 80-90%… w/ half not returning… still… a 30% success rate of a legacy of a kid from youth group growing up Biblically sound and stable is still a failing grade… have we really dropped the ball this hard as youth workers and youth pastors??? part of me has seen this play out in life… many high schoolers once graduated leave because there’s nothing for them to do… and as soon as they leave, real life hits them along w/ opinions that sound more realistic and more relevant than what their youth group offered them in the feel-good God is for you half-truthed messages that fill youth groups… after working w/ teens for almost 7 yrs… it’s tragic and heartbreaking that kids who you saw raise their hands during an emotional moment in a song would after high school leave and actually involve themselves in stuff the sermons the youth pastors preach at them to not involve themselves in… it’s almost a life digression… and it’s sad that someone who was once passionate about church and youth group would degenerate towards the path of worldliness because the hardness of life hit them harder than the emotional inclinations of a youth pastor’s emotionally driven message he felt at the moment he wrote it… w/ possibly little to no study concerning the verses he just tossed in there… and after viewing it for years… what you wrote in this blog… it’s a sad tragic pathetic almost depressing reality… something I pray would change drastically… so that we can pass the torch of this faith to a faithful generation to come… and that the Gospel can flourish and be communicated rightly, historically, Biblically, and engaging-ly… but thank you for writing this!!! it hit hard and I don’t work w/ the youth anymore but I can’t help look back on the years of my involvement to remember the reality of what is written here…

  98. muhtowen says:

    Wow, I don’t think this article even came close to addressing the reason myself and many of my friends left the church. Since my friends and I are the types of people this article is talking about, I feel somewhat qualified to say that the author’s assertion that a lack of orthodoxy is the main problem couldn’t be more off base. What I’ve found is that there is far too much diversity in the world to only accept one truth as the only truth. A lack of nuance and a tendency to only support one version of reality as acceptable is what drives us away. The church’s position appears to be that the journey matters far less than the destination. As I’ve traveled and as I’ve encountered and made friends with people from nearly every country on earth at this point and brushed shoulders with people whose cultures and growing-up-experiences couldn’t be more different from my own, the truth that I’ve discovered suits me is that the journey is far more important than the destination. But that’s the truth that works for me. I’m not anti-religious. I think that the church and organized religion give many people the compass and the framework to be examples of love, peace, and acceptance. But, I do reject the notion that those who get that compass and framework from other sources need to be rescued. Probably many in the church would disagree with this assessment, but as someone who is exactly who the article is talking about, that is the message we are getting. A failure to see the world beyond black and white is what myself and many of my friends chose to leave behind.

  99. Very well said, and very sadly true.
    Thanks for sharing that eloquent exposition.

  100. Mitch says:

    I’ll agree strongly with at least one point: #8 (they get smart). I’m a former Christian turned agnostic atheist, and I used to be very active in church, even serving as a lay minister for a time. While still a believer, I started studying – really studying – the Bible, in an effort to deepen my faith. The more I studied and deepened my knowledge of the Bible, the more I found that I couldn’t reconcile with logic. Even though I had been a Christian for decades, I had to admit that I had no idea of some of the horrific things found in the Bible.

    I searched literally for years to find answers, explanations to the holes in the Jesus/God story, and found no answers. The only consistent advice that I got was to “stop thinking so much and just trust God”, which doesn’t satisfy my need to understand, nor will it satisfy current and future generations who literally have all the world’s knowledge at the click of a mouse. Christian apologists content that the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true, which has worked for centuries but it’s an educational concept whose time is rapidly coming to an end.

    I would add another reason to your list: social acceptance. When I was a kid, there were two types of spiritual classifications: those who believed that Jesus was God, and people who worshipped Satan. There was no middle ground. Anyone who didn’t believe what we believed were outcast, not to be socialized with or befriended. That was a long time ago, in many ways. Even though folks who indicate that they do not believe in God or gods make up a minority of the population, it’s a very rapidly growing demographic. It’s much more socially acceptable than it was 20 years ago to identify as atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Taoist, or other typically nontraditional beliefs.

    • marc5solas says:

      Would you mind sharing what in the bible troubled you and what apologists you looked to for answers?

      • Mitch says:

        I don’t mind at all. The statues in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 regarding rape are chief among the atrocities that are simply indefensible. Numerous accounts of genocide purportedly ordered by God (Joshua at Jericho, the slaughter of the firstborn boys of Egypt), not to mention the supposed drowning of every man, woman, and child on earth during the story of the flood. Statutes allowing slavery, even describing how one should beat a slave. Instructions to kill your own child should he prove to be unruly. And the place described as hell – no loving god would create such a place, let alone send one his people (his children, according to the book) there. These are just a few of the dozens of horrible things that I’ve never found anyone to justify.

        And those are just the atrocities. There are deficiencies in the Bible itself. The 4 stories of the resurrection – the single most important moment in the history of Christianity – contradict each other. Inconsistent lineage of the person called Jesus. The fact that the “first hand accounts” of the 4 gospels were written no earlier than 50 years after (and possibly more than 100 years after) the death of Jesus – a fact that even Christian Bible scholars concede. Unknown authorship for almost all of the books of the Bible. And couple all of that with the fact that the Bible originated in the early church, which engaged in crusades to kill the enemies of the faith and were known to burn manuscripts with which they did not agree and imprison those whose teachings departed from the teachings of the church (Galileo, among them).

        I’ve read writings from a number of Christian apologists. I went through one of Josh McDowell’s books (can’t recall which one – I no longer have it) some years back, and just a year ago or so I read “The Case for Christ. I bought a book called “I’m Glad You Asked” but couldn’t even get halfway through it because it was so poorly written. The apologists seem to always start from the position that the Bible is true and indisputable, a fact that I can’t accept because of the atrocities and errors I’ve described above.

        The final straw for me was when I asked myself whether I would have ever been a Christian had I not been raised as a Christian. The answer, which was surprisingly easy, was a simple “No”. I easily rejected Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, and various other beliefs because what they purported seemed ridiculous. When I applied the same critical thinking to my long-held beliefs of Jesus as God, the things I had learned (which, ironically occurred while trying to learn more and deepen my faith) made Christianity sound ridiculous and unbelievable for the same reasons I had always rejected other faiths.

      • marc5solas says:

        That’s a fair response, and not uncommon. Would you be open to some more serious thinkers on those issues if I recommended them? I’m afraid there’s a LOT of anti-intellectualism in the American church. There are, however, folks who have done serious work in this area (though they’ll never get the media time of a Joel Ostreen) ;)

      • Mitch says:

        Marc – If you have a recommendation for an author that addresses the issues I’ve presented above, I’d be glad to take a peek. To be completely transparent, I doubt if there’s anything that would convince me to return to a place of faith in any deity (and the Christian definition of God, specifically) but I’m happy to investigate views different from my own so long as the discussion is based on reason and evidence rather than emotion and superstition. Thanks in advance!

      • marc5solas says:


        Have forgotten about you, my friend. Frankly blown away by the response here and still doing the work/Dad thing too! I’ll be back!

    • Shawn White says:

      Hi Mitch –
      I hope you both don’t mind me jumping in the middle of your conversation. If I can, I would recommend Paul Copan’s book “Is God A Moral Monster?” which deals specificaly with the charge of God being a moral monster in the Old Testament.

      In terms of the resurrection (since I spend a majority of my time studying this area), what specifically do you take issue with? What inconsistencies are you seeing? There are a few books in this area that I could recommend as well.

  101. Jamie says:

    Loved this. It helped me think of ways to talk about the faith at youth group, and if I want to share with my friends. I think you did a wonderful job setting this up. Thank you.

  102. Tyler McGowan says:

    This is one of the posts that kept me from sleeping it hit me so hard. I love the church and it hurts seeing what it seems to be becoming. I am in college and have remained true to the faith even at this age. When I think about the Christian faith as a whole I see a body who has taken sides on issues rather than operating as a body of love. Love is the sole message of the gospel. The gospel isn’t inticing those who are relevent in society or the rich who live without a God. Even the Bible says, “It is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel to fit through the eye of a needle.” The day the church goes to hurting and lost people is the day the church becomes relevant. Someone who has been dispised by mankind doesn’t need a flashy show or relevant pastors to recognize love. God went to those who were in need. He wasn’t looking to help just hurting church members or those who could promote His image. His image was praised for those He reached who no one else would dare touch. It is changed lives that shows the Christ we live for, not creating a Christian culture or persona. There are plenty of great people out there, but you can only change so much being a great person. God has equipped us with the most authentic tool for changing lives in the universe and yet we forfeight our weapon to relavence and positions. These three remain, “faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is Love.”

  103. And it’s not just “kids” but me: a woman in her 30s, ex-youth group & choir postergirl, with a degree in theology, and another degree from a seminary, who left deeply wounded by errant and negligent theology/teachings, for so many of the reasons you name here and a few more.

    I’ll note, I made a decision to leave religion–to leave the mucked up human construct of it all that was so disappointingly distracting–not to leave God. I suspect there are quite a few others who would share similar sentiments if they felt empowered to speak freely without fear of judgment, rebuke, or being seen as rebellious “prodical” sons and daughters.

    Thank you for this article, for your thoughtful and frank examination of what is going on. It is not simply a personal crisis of faith, it is so much more existential, complex, and *systemic* than that. But what you have written takes moxie and humility; I admire and respect you for that and I am deeply grateful for your awareness and for your speaking up & out about what is going on. I hope the dialogue continues and grows.

  104. Jim says:

    And He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very great multitude gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, 3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and it came about that as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 “And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 “And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 “And other seeds fell into the good soil and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    If you don’t want to believe in Christ, the son of God, That is definately your choice. A true Christian will not and should not try to force what they found in Christ either. I found no scripture where Christ forced himself on anyone? From birth to death one has many choices to make. I tried for years to believe in a God who could accomodate my life. I found out I needed a God who changed my life. Not just a God, but the God who gave his only son Jesus to show us the way! If you want to live forever, take your bible, read it for all its worth with both hard to understand passages and all of Jesus’s parables and make up your mind. You can buy book after book after book, however, find an updated good English Version and find a chair! For me, I intend to meet everyone who replied on this post in favor of Christ in heaven! It took me multiple readings of parables to understand their meanings. I am still learing! I am going to a church with old boring traditional services. I dont care as when I am there I am listening, thanking, and sometimes tearing at how lucky I am to finally complete my life. I also notice the generation over 70 and now understand why many of them have been married over 50 years as well. They must have listened as well.

  105. Warren says:

    They leave the church because they realize that they just don’t need it. You can’t scare them anymore.

  106. danielawrencesmith says:

    A hearty Amen! I hope that the next generation of kids that make it through see the folly and return to historic Christianity. The relevance experiment has failed. The culture we live in has not improved. We’ve traded one religion for another.

  107. timothy says:

    As a 22 year old ex-church goer (who at one point was so very involved), son of a family whose dad was a children’s pastor, I agree. About 90% of the way.

  108. Ron Johnson says:

    Good list, but only touched on the number one reason they leave. Hypocrisy. I worked with youth for 20 years and I praise God that we saw many stay because of a philosophy of solid discipleship rather than entertainment. However, by far and away, the number one reason they walked away from church and their faith was that they saw those over them (most often parents) who were going through the motions of Christianity and modeling a fake and light Christianity to the public, but were very different at home. True believers truly discipling has lasting fruit.

  109. I believe that thier are many differant reasons, I left the church after leaving my parents home and I was between fourteen and fifteen years of age. (growning up young) My father was a decon of our little church, and we went to church every sunday which I enjoyed. Then the (diffacult times) began.
    Leaving Indiana headed to Califorina where I worked and finished high school before entering the service and becoming a disabled American vetran at the ripe old age of ninteen. After recieving my discharge the real (hard times) hit and for decades While in the service I had started experamenting with differant types of drugs, while in the hospital I had enjoyed the pain medication (the start) then of course marijuana and on an on. But stilled tried to fit in to society. After losing my family , it was the start of me being a full time drug user. Everyday for the next twenty-five plus years I had been high on something.
    Now fifty-two years later I know for a fact the lord Jesus never left me, it was me who left him. I,ll pray for all the ones that left that they will wake up as I have done .
    I am not able to go back home but I am free to love and honor the lord Jesus.
    Thier is not an easy solution for keeping the young involed in the church being it law or changing whatever concept feasibley thought of. I do believe that from infant to adolesent it up to the parents to help set guidlines both at home and in church. and from middle school,high school, college and having young familys is where the real challenge arises thank you

  110. Falls Church, VA says:

    I think people will find dozens of reasons not to go to church, be faithful, or explore and develop this fundamental part of their lives. My experience is that it comes down to people — youth and adults alike — who simply do not want to be obedient to a God they cannot see. If they aren’t willing to do that, they will find all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t stay with the church. Some of those will be ones that reflect real things (e.g., some Christians behaving hypocritically), and others will reflect ignorance.

    Are we also not possibly ignoring the will of God in all of this? In evangelism, we bring the Good News to people and introduce them to Jesus, but doesn’t God to the part of drawing them in? In the book of Acts, do we not see story after story of how Jesus’ disciples went all over the region and preached the Good News to people, only to have God harden the hearts of many of them, so that they could not hear it? It’s trouble to acknowledge, because it doesn’t sound “fair,” but God apparently had a purpose for that, even if we can’t see what that is today, or make sense of it.

    Personally, I’d rather have a few youth stay in the church who are really committed, then have a lot of young people stay in the church just because they think it is the right thing to do. If we don’t grow as quickly as we want or at the rate we think we ought to be growing, perhaps we should consider that God’s will is part of this. If we can’t find an answer, perhaps we should accept it as one of the many mysteries of life lived in faith?

    Michael Keays
    Falls Church, VA

  111. […] 10 common reasons why our children choose to leave the church posted over on Marc5Solas blog. […]

  112. […] Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church […]

  113. Reblogged this on Christian Theology and commented:
    Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church – from Marc5solas

  114. Alex says:

    As one of those young people who came to rather dislike the church, here’s how my stance sort of evolved:

    Originally, it was the generic angsty half-atheistic “I’m 13 and I know what’s right and it’s the opposite of whatever you say, Mom/Dad!” sort of business. I only half-heartedly actually believed the words I said back then, and it was more disagreement with my parents than anything else. My parents went to church, so I did not want to.

    In a few years, I got confirmed. The next year, many of my group who got confirmed did not come back. I followed them a year later. Here’s why:

    First: I saw the priest preaching morals and values. Nothing homophobic, nothing racist. However, I saw people who had just heard about the value of helping the homeless drive (or worse, walk) right by a homeless person not fifteen minutes later, without stopping. Church seemed to increasingly be a thing that started and ended in a building, and if all it took was the value of doing good things, I didn’t need to sit around listening to the same stuff I’d heard before to do that.

    Second: The concept of “reconciliation” seemed to be abused by the majority of attendees. They would go and get forgiven for their sins. But would they try to improve? Sure. For a week or two. They would quickly fall back into old habits, much the same as many New Years’ resolutions. Were they helped when falling off the path? No, they were told “It’s human nature!” and to just get the reconciliation again and all would be well.

    Well, perfect! Now I don’t even have to try. I can just get “forgiven” on my deathbed and all will be well! Now for the problem I have with *that* argument:

    I was always told that I *need* to believe in him or I won’t get into heaven. This has a few problems in my mind (among them the Christlike atheist who is barred from heaven on little more than a technicality), so I would like to propose an alternative: If you’re good, you get into heaven. If you’ve been bad, but repent and are genuinely serious about your repentance (God will know whether it’s this or if you’re like the “attendees” I described above, trust me), you get into heaven eventually. If not, you don’t. It’s a lot less messy, less divisive (solves the “MY religion is right!” problem), and easier to live out without the whole unachievable standard thing. Believe in God? Great! Believe in Allah? So what? (Think it’s any different? It’s just another name for God! Here’s another thing: God probably doesn’t care what we call him (or for that matter whether we capitalize it whenever we refer to Him), so long as we live out his message)

    You’ve likely already noticed something about my words: I never insinuated that I didn’t actually believe in God. It’s in truth more a “half-belief” for me. Is he up there? Maybe! Maybe not! Does it really matter with regard to whether we should be good people? Absolutely not!

  115. ubi dubium says:

    Years ago I was one of those young people who left church, and I’ve never gone back. I read through your list and none of those reasons applied to me. You simply missed my reason entirely. And I think, from reading many ex-timonies, that there are many who left for the same reason I did.

    I think the best way to figure out why kids are leaving is not to have a discussion among churchgoers. No matter how sincere and well-meaning you are about your discussion, you won’t arrive at correct conclusions, because you aren’t asking the right people. The best way to figure out why kids are leaving is to ASK THEM. Talk to the ones who left. We’re easy to find – we have a huge presence on the internet. Read what we write, engage us in thoughtful discussion (instead of preaching at us) and you’ll get much better answers than the ten you listed above.

  116. Rich says:

    My daughter is lost, and I don’t if she will be saved. I guess I was trying to force it all this time. I need Christ to save her. Please Lord Jesus, save her.

  117. AK Phelps says:

    I think there are some great things being said here. Now, here’s my question to you. As the mother of a 14 year-old young lady who professes Christ as her savior, what do I do about this? What do I do, knowing that the probability of her continuing in her faith, staying strong in her walk with Christ and influencing the lives of the people that she has yet to meet in the future is so low?

    I’m a (happily) married woman. But I’m a single Christian parent. Although he supports my raising our daughter in “the church”, my husband doesn’t share my faith so my guess is that somehow that lowers my daughters odds even more. Let me add that I also struggle with my own church attendance because we have recently moved to another area of the country and it’s just plain HARD to build relationships in a new place – church or not!

    What can I do – what can *we* do – to keep our kids plugged in?

    I don’t mean to be critical, but there *must* be more to this message. We have to change the outcome but there are no suggestions about how to go about affecting the change that is so desperately needed?

    In peace,
    Concerned Mom

    • marc5solas says:

      The same grace with which your daughter was saved will sustain her. Make sure she understands the gospel and her continuing need for it. It’s the gospel, always:

      If she truly understands that she was a just object of God’s wrath, who was saved by grace alone through faith alone in the atoning work of Christ alone, and that her sins are truly, truly forgiven. And that she will fall short of the command of the law to “love God with all her heart, and love her neighbor as herself”, yet understand that those sins have been completely atoned for, and that those around her in church are in the same position, she’ll never see the “hypocrites” or lose sight of the real work of the church in proclaiming this gospel of faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

      As a mother, make sure she’s someplace that she’s hearing this message. Often.

  118. Pat says:

    Ok this is from a Grandma. Yes we are hung up on do and dont’s and finding your group while a kid. Take those kids into a real church sanctuary where we are taught the law, the freedom in atonement of Christ and parts of the community of the church. We are all relevant to each other and responsible to understanding purpose of God, Jesus and Holy Spirit.

  119. Shawn White says:

    Good thoughts, Marc, and a good write up of the current situation that the church is facing. While it’s not a “magic bullet” to solve all of the church’s ills, this is the one of the main reasons that I fight like crazy to have an established apologetics program/ministry in the church. To ensure that my fellow congregants are not ignorant of their faith, but also why they ought to hold on to that faith. Press on and keep up the good fight.

  120. June says:

    Solomon wrote in the Old Testament, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. This training includes ALL aspects of living. If you teach a child to be a God-fearing (meaning respectul) child, he/she will grow up to be that kind of adult. You also have to set an example by practicing what you preach. Don’t send your child to church, TAKE them.

    • Bill Samuel says:

      Right. One of the most important things is for children to see their parents living the Gospel and making it first priority in their lives. I believe that is an important reason I never really left the church. Other people criticized them as being irresponsible to us children because of the financial sacrifices and the personal danger (the KKK threatened to burn our house down once, for example). But what we learned is that Christ is worth living your life for. They were great examples of loving God and loving their neighbors. It is the incarnational life that is most inspiring.

  121. Mister Womack says:

    The first person hired by a church may be the spiritual leader (priest, pastor, minister, whatever) but the next person hired NEEDS to be a Marketing Expert. You need to identify your customers and then PURSUE them. A lot of denominations have a “campus ministry” building and offer a plethora of activities. But you can’t just build a better mousetrap abd expect mice to find it. You gotta’ put a little piece of cheese on it to bring them in.

  122. NHC says:

    As a pastor and father of four children (college freshman to 6th grade) I would add that one of the main reasons kids leave the church is because they were not discipled by their parents to follow Christ in the first place. In Christian households disciple-making ought to start at home not at church. In my experience devout parents make the best youth ministers, and devout families in community make the best churches.

    • Ron Johnson says:

      Amen NHC. The primary responsibility for and telling factor of a child that will stay in the church and follow God is definitely the home. That is a sobering responsibility for fathers! Lead and disciple your family! The church in their 2 hours each week with kids and youth are not the source of training for your children, but a support and reinforcement of your training and God given role. By and large, I have also found that the church (even the bad ones violating all 10 things above) are not going to drive a child away if they are trained and discipled well in the home. That doesn’t negate the above list as the church should be reinforcing healthy discipleship, but it also is a warning not to rely on the above things as they are not the main thing in my opinion.

    • Michael Keays says:

      NHC: I agree. When I think of the church youth group I was a part of from 8th grade through high school, the so-called “stars” — who fell by the wayside after high school — came from rather slack families who weren’t really reinforcing what we were exploring in the youth group. The “stars” were popular among the adults who saw them because they could say the right things when asked and appeared to be held in esteem by their fellow youth group members. They were “stars” among the youth group members because they were charismatic, handsome, etc.. That doesn’t mean that they were solid in their faith at all. In fact, it became clear that they weren’t.

      It brings me to this point: I like the gist of the blog, but maybe instead of asking those who fell by the wayside why they did so, we ought to ask those few who remained true, why they remained true. You’ll get more wisdom of value from the latter than the former (in my humble opinion). Also, many youth who stray in their late teens will likely return to the church at some point. They probably just haven’t suffered a personal trauma that would cause them to possibly do that. They have been lulled away from the path to God by the “pleasures” of this world, and haven’t yet experienced the cold water in the face that they probably need. Indeed, some many never return to God until they are on their deathbed. We should consider that God is sovereign in all things, and that this may be part of His plan for humankind.

  123. Paul says:

    The Law condemns? You state that like it’s the end of the matter and Psalm 19 doesn’t exist. Much less Paul’s statement in Romans that the Law is good.

    You and I are part of the problem. Only our King can do the saving.

    I also agree with many of your establishing statements, however, if we were doing things “your way” what would that look like in terms of results — really. I know, I know, you’d like your turn, but I just don’t know that it’d be much different.

    I remember, as a boy, attending a dying church that was still doing everything it always did. I remember sitting in classes attended regularly by me and the teacher’s sons where I learned nothing except to think, “When will this be over?”

    I have spoken to many Catholics and others who went faithfully to their classes and still didn’t want any part of Christianity when they left high school or hit college.

    I agree that relevance is often irrelevant, but maintaining status seems to me to be the same.

    hmmmm. I don’t know the solution. Prayer.

    • marc5solas says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful response. There are 3 functions of the law. Driving you to the gospel is certainly one of them. (And what was discussed in this context.) I also agree that the law is good! I also agree that the underlying aspect here is that we are, in our natural state, at enmity with God. Please don’t take these observations and try to extrapolate an entire theology. ;) The size of a blog keeps the articles from being all-inclusive, so I certainly didn’t dive into the other two.

      This article wasn’t meant to be formulaic; I’m not proposing another “way”, simply that we clearly present the gospel.

  124. Ron Kerns says:

    having visited many churches over the years…another common instance is age and marital status. There are all sorts of ministries for children & youth. All sorts of ministries for ‘families’ and “married people”….it can get terribly difficult to find a church that has a ministry for, and warmly welcomes, “single adults”. I know…I wasn’t married until I was 28. It’s a terribly under-served group of people within the church. The very same people who you are wondering, “why did they leave church?”….because many don’t feel “welcome” there….until after they get married.

    • Robert Wood says:

      I think you missed the whole point of this article. We have raised a generation of people who think the purpose of church is to “serve” them. Then in order to keep them we have to keep serving them. Maybe we need to take a lesson from John F. Kennedy and ask not what our church can do for us, but what we can do for our church. Anyone who wants to serve can find a place. I’ll say it again, the most important thing your church can do is to make sure each person is confronted with the Gospel. “Jesus paid for your sin so you don’t have to. Trust Him.” That is life-changing, and heart-changing. Get them saved, then teach them the Word and train them to serve….no matter what their demographic.

  125. Julie says:

    I had great experiences growing the in The Church through my high school, college years and into my 20’s. Now, in my mid-30’s, I won’t say I’ve “given up” on The Church, but I am disheartened. My family and I do not attend regularly, and when we do attend, I see many of the things this article has pointed to. And this isn’t a matter of denomination or location. Thanks for writing this. Maybe some leaders eyes will be opened to what The Church needs to do to change – They need to go back to The Word and stay there. And I love free mega church Starbux as much as the next gal! – but that’s not the point.

  126. Bonnie says:

    And how does one get a copy of this to share to those who have no email? I would LOVE one! Please let me know how! Thanks so much! There were some points that I feel I have failed my own daughter and I can definitely see how I was failed as a teen as well! Thanks so much for sharing this with the world! My 22 year old daughter shared it with her Facebook world and that’s how I found it!

  127. Very well put. However you are slightly wrong on one thing. A church can become “relevant/modern” without losing the true message. My church ( is perhaps the most modern church there is, that plays extremely modern music ( Other then that one detail (idk maybe I didn’t fully understand your blog) I found this post on and I plan on sharing it everywhere I can.
    Thanks so much for doing this.

  128. Jonathan says:

    As one of those kids, I think you missed something critical. The Church does not engage or have an answer for science. Questions about the validity of the Creation account, origins of humanity, and literal truth of Biblical stories are not ever answered with any measurable level of credibility. Perhaps it is because there isn’t any level of real credibility. Either way, that omission is perhaps the most interesting part of this whole post.

    • marc5solas says:


      Not the purpose of this post at all. It was simply an series of observations from those who have left the church and a plea for the church to respond. I think there *are* people who are doing good work in the area of discussing creation, but to be honest I’m certainly not one of them, nor is that the purpose of this blog.

      • Jonathan says:

        I understand. I don’t mean to suggest you should discuss these issues, but I would humbly suggest that the Church’s (in)ability to answer questions about the physical reality of the universe is a Top 10 reason kids leave the Church behind. It was for me.

  129. J Maker says:

    My wife has taught 6-7 grade for years and I’m the “bouncer.” We ask their opinion, how they came to that opinion, let them use their smartphones IF there is a Bible on it being used, then talk the Gospel. They love it when their voice is heard, even when needing a little Biblical correction. They’ve transitioned from Jesus Loves Me to Jesus loves.. me and He did this for .. me. They hear more than you know.

  130. Brian Trapp says:

    Although Marc has addressed it some of the comments here, I’d put a heavy emphasis on the most important reason youth are leaving the church: a rampant anti-intellectualism in evangelical culture. Most American youth are ignorant of the various lines of defense developed by Christian apologists in answer to the barbs and arrows continually launched by skeptics and atheists. Many churches are faithfully preaching and transmitting the Gospel but giving their youth no reasons to actually *accept* the Gospel. There is a difference. In doing so they are ignoring 1 Pet. 3:15 (a verse which should be of primary importance to the church in times like these) and the apologetic examples offered by the apostles in Acts. Many pastors are no better. They can exegete the daylights out of a Greek text, but can’t even formulate a coherent thought when it comes to arguments for God’s existence, historical evidence for the Resurrection, the relationship of the Gospel to modern science, and so on.

    • Nick says:

      “They can exegete the daylights out of a Greek text, but can’t even formulate a coherent thought when it comes to arguments for God’s existence, historical evidence for the Resurrection, the relationship of the Gospel to modern science, and so on.”

      Thank you. In my own post below I mention that one of the only reasons I still hold onto parts of my childhood beliefs is because of the book “Darwin’s Black Box”. It’s intellectual, intelligent, and did more for me in proving the existence of God than any church message ever did.

      I’ve been told to “just have faith.” Saying “have faith” does nothing for someone who is looking for answers AND analyzing the validity of each potential answer they are given as an intelligent individual should.

  131. Anonymous Student2 says:

    Another reason we are leaving the church is church politics. I was a youth and family ministry major when I began college. I did an internship at my home church the summer after my freshman year. When I started my sophomore year, I had left the bible department entirely. The politics among church leadership was unacceptable; it was bad enough as a member, but as a leader, it was intolerable. I’ve been to dozens of churches across several denominations, and I have yet to find one I could stay with. I haven’t given up on God, just the church.

    • Shane says:

      I want to encourage you that the “Church” is what God has given to his community of believers to build up our faith and encourage one another. If you give up on Church you have in fact given up on God. The community of believers makes up the local church. We “the church” are the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. Everything in the New Testament is in the context of the Church as a body of believers living out their faith with one another and reconciling their differences. I don’t like the politics either but part of growing and maturing is learning to deal with people you may not particularly be drawn to. I don’t know what all you have experienced but I would encourage you to align yourself with the Bible, those inside the Church that align with the Bible and pray for the other ones as you work to turn the direction of that local Church to align with the word of God. If there are leaders in elected offices that do display Christian character then bring it to the attention of the pastor and seek to have them removed. I am sure there is at least one Church in your area that is doing the work of the Lord and not in political upheaval within the Church. I hope the best for you and sorry for what you have experienced.

    • MaryB9 says:

      Anonymous Student2,
      I understand this as well as many of those comments of children who have left the church. I finally gave up on the church. I tried for years after high school, but just couldn’t continue in place after place being pushed out of the church. I was very active in church going 4+ times a week until I graduated and went to college. It was an adjustment for me to switch churches so I volunteered to work with the youth. Sure my college and my job responsibilities made it an effort to go, Yes, I had to work weekends at times. I had to survive. I joined Christian group at college. I volunteered as much as I could, but something was always missing. I heard the politics. I saw the adults “acting” church as children would play. Yes, I found those who were “real” and struggling to get the message out. But mostly, I was pushed out…. I wasn’t married and so many thought I was “shopping” for a boyfriend in the youth group, so I was pushed out. I had no interest in dating a teen and had been very careful about my actions in this regard. I tried the singles groups, but found that most were led by married couples, saying to us “single is not normal” so we will show you how to find a man. I saw how the singles were treated by the others in the church. I tried to stay. I tried time and time again. Church to me endangered my relationship with God/ Jesus, so I left. I wanted to stay, but church didn’t want me. I tried to volunteer but was rejected as someone who had the disease of singleness. I had a degree in working with youth, yet I was not qualified. I fought throughout my 20’s to stay, but I finally gave up. I saw so many wrongs that I came to believe that everyone sins, it is the non-Christians who are honest about it. I understand many of the above comments, my parents were abusive and strict. I also realized that horrible things had happened to me in church by church people. I tried in my 30’s to do business with the church and found them horrible, not keeping their commitments or paying their bills. I wished they would just be honest, just invite me to be part of them without the mocking, I wished that they would grow up, but they didn’t. I found a good man and got married when I was 39, but couldn’t have children. I am now in my late 40’s and am tired of trying to be part of a church. I still volunteer, I still tithe, I still want to be in a church family, I just give my time and money to groups that make a difference and are not looking to garnish their buildings. I am not sure that I will ever return, because now I am tired…. I continue to struggle, to make my way on untraveled paths, to help those who need it, to give without return.

      • marc5solas says:

        Well, let me introduce myself. I’m Marc, and I sin; Every day. In thought, word, and deed. In both things I’ve done and things I’ve left undone. I’ve sinned against God for loving things more than Him, and against my neighbor by not loving them as myself. And as I sit in church, I’m surrounded by others in the same condition.

        It sounds like you’re tired of carrying the burden of the law, and tired of those who pretend that they’re not sinning. Your rest is to be found in the gospel.

      • BigD says:

        I can really empathize with your comments. I, too, was single for a long time (got married for the first time at 48). The organized church doesn’t know what to do with singles. It marginalizes them and treats them as weird. I felt at times that I was somehow after their wives or that I must really be a closet homosexual because I was still single. I found that there was absolutely no stigma against going to a bridge club as a single (where you ALWAYS play with a partner). I moved a lot because of my work and its training and so I had these kind of experiences very often. Family was preached, relationship was preached and caring was preached. Sure didn’t seem like it was lived out much. Too many people were far too busy with watching sports (more rarely playing them) to want to actually spend time on relationship – – especially with a single person. But – – there were the exceptions!! It seemed that there would be sometimes a person, sometimes an older couple and sometimes a family that would join with me in my journey and care with and for me.

        I also have found that church going people are hard ones to do business with. There have been some very expensive lessons over the years for sure. There have also been those lessons from those that never purported to have anything to do with the faith.

        One thing I haven’t found difficult was developing the apologetics thing. Possibly it was because I was a real loner through my childhood and youth and read very very widely. Spent lots of time thinking about things also found myself confusing the adults with my questions. So I went looking for my own answers. Found enough information so that I can respond to most any arguement. Have even worked at developing purely philosophical answers to questions that usually get answered by ‘the Bible says’ (all too often because it is so much fun to answer when you are expected not to). Not sure how to get others these kind of answers because it takes work and thinking to develop these skills. Our society as a whole is taught to just accept what they are taught and not to question. Independant thinking seems to be against the rules but it is in grappling with the hard hard issues that one begins to realize the munificence of God. Who does provide, who does care, who listens and yes speaks to me – – yes speaks to me personally.

        I have started to wonder if what is missing is passion. Things get done – – but usually because the should or ought to. Very rarely with joyful abandon or with an absolute total commitment. It seems that passion is suspect in the church.

        I am presently watching pastors that get excellent salaries who are unavailable evenings or outside of church time on weekends and they take days to return calls or emails. They actually work very little and get paid for 3 to 4 hours of time (like reading the announcements at a service). Then these same people talk about how hard they are working and how difficult it is.

        There are ever so many real problems that need to be addressed but fundamental is that so very few KNOW who God is or have a relationship with Him.

  132. Jeff says:

    Law and Gospel – the beauty of the Holy Scriptures. In my experience with the modern American evangelical church I have observed the noticeable absence of corporate confession and our need for God’s grace. We need to declare our sinfulness and brokeness: “Heavenly Father have mercy on me for I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed; I have not loved you with all of my heart, soul and strength.” (Law) so that we might receive the healing words of absolution: “Because of Christ your sins are forgiven” (Gospel). Unfortunately we have created a church that is transactional in nature: join us because we have the coolest preacher, great facilities, the best praise music, best youth programs, the friendliest people, etc. etc. etc.

    The older I get, the more convinced I am that Augustine had it right and that we would do well to heed his understanding: the church is called to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. God does the rest.

  133. Peter Mason says:

    You have made some very good points, I pretty much agree with them all. However, I would add that there is another factor that is missing. Many of these kids just are not saved. Why? Well of course, because God has not saved them. But their parents buy into the thought that children of Christians are Christians and they treat them that way from a very early age, too early. This is not just true in ‘covenant’ churches, but in all kinds of evangelical churches.

  134. Men of Mud says:

    Amen! Fantastic post!

  135. Hi Marc,

    I’d like to interview (25 minutes, recorded on the phone) you about “Top 10 Reasons…” for “His People” on the Pilgrim Radio Network. Would you be available later today or tomorrow? Our internet is off and on today – if you don’t hear back from me, our phone number is 1-800-541-5647, ext. 17. Thanks – looking forward to it. God bless.
    Bill Feltner, Pilgrim Radio Network

  136. Jennine Berg says:

    My eldest found a community near her college. She continued on with a similar community she was brought up in. She never left the church. My youngest left prior to finishing high school because she was being groomed by an elder in the church who wanted her to be more involved. (Pizza party’s, camp, alter guild). She felt as if she was being held back and pushed forward at the same time.I feel if we push to hard and not let them ask what it is they can do in their faith, they eventually leave from pressure. High school and college offer many different communities. We as Christians need to step back and watch were the young adults are looking for direction. They here the message. They question the message. It is when they see a community divided on the politics of religion I believe they leave to find their own answers.

  137. zanspence says:

    In a nutshell you said. Christianity sometimes is evangelized as a form of self help. Although God is a healer it’s more than that. It’s the absolute plan for man and the truth about our origin, meaning, morality and destiny. It’s life itself. We are inherently born away from this way so we must be born again that is the Gospel. And we love Him back so much.

  138. Mark says:

    I rather thought that the skinny jeans, lattes, and the other things were (ineffective) *responses* to youth leaving the church rather than the *cause*.

    In any case, not all churches embraced these things. Some are indistinguishable from their 1950’s counterparts. How are they doing?

    • marc5solas says:

      And that’s the point; style (be it skinny jeans or 50’s reactionary politics) isn’t the call of the church. I don’t care if someone wears a hoodie, or skinny jeans, or a suit, or a robe.. the message must drive the method and not the other way around. The message, not the method is what makes the gospel relevant.

      • Mark says:

        I guess I was trying to say, find the church that you think is doing the best job at keeping to the message, and I’d wager you’d find the same exodus of youth. The causes are external, not internal.

      • marc5solas says:

        There will always be those who reject the gospel. I’m not concerned with a “win rate”. Our failure is pragmatically altering the message to increase the “win rate”. In the end we’ve failed on both accounts.

      • Bill Samuel says:

        The question is also, What is the gospel? Generally evangelicals have not preached the whole gospel. The whole gospel makes a lot more sense than the Fireproof kind of mini-message too often preached.

  139. […] Marc@5solas has a post on why he thinks kids leave the church. He has taken the time to interview some kids who have left the church. It seems like he lives in a culture of large squishy churches. Those of us in small, Northeastern, missionary churches wonder what he is talking about but here are his findings: […]

  140. Jessica says:

    I would add that the component missing in this discussion is the Holy Spirit. Even in “adult” church, how dependant are we on His presence? How dependant is the pastor on Him speaking through him? How dependant is the church goer on Him showing up and speaking each week? Church should be the gathering of believers to invite God’s presence, to worship Him, and to listen to Him. All the more with youth! If we could cultivate a culture of teaching them the gospel and truly seeking God, we’d be sending them out fully accountable for their acceptance or rejection of Jesus.

  141. Bill says:

    Kids are not programmable computers. Sometimes parents and churches have genuinely loved, taught, served and modeled Christ and the child still turns away. John White’s book “Parents in Pain” is a wise and correct in this assessment. Bill

    • marc5solas says:

      Agreed. There is certainly a larger view of justification at work here. However, the scope of this blog was to encourage the church to fulfill it’s role in preaching the word and making disciples. While gospel proclamation is not a guarantee of regeneration to all, it’s certainly a failure on our part to not make that declaration.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  142. […] was going to blog about something completely different today, but this blog crossed my path.  You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for my other musing because I need to […]

  143. SallyVee says:

    Thank you for this. And I’d like to add that though this is aimed at “evangelicals” I think it is safe to say the ‘relevance-feelings-let’s pretend-baby talk’ non-theology has filtered into most American denominations to some degree. We are seeing the impact now throughout society, and it will only intensify. Ignorance and feelings reign supreme in post-modern America. We are entertaining ourselves and happy-talking ourselves to death – quite literally to death.

  144. Jenny Shain says:

    Young adults are individuals who have to take up their own cross & make up their own mind-this article gives no personal responsibility to those individuals. Humans are sinners. Most of them, no matter what, would rather sleep in & not take the personal responsibility of faith & church. They don’t want the accountability to live a holy life- this challenge given by church.

  145. David M says:

    Great Blog post… for Youth Pastors I have a suggestion of a way forward, that I think will help us. Tim Keller’s “Center Church”. He wasn’t specifically talking about youth… but his message clearly related. (Hobby horse… Youth Pastors are no different than “lead pastors or whatever”. They need to be reading the same deep theological books. And just translate them into how they care for youth)

    He says Hardware (Doctrine/Message) must stay the same. Software (program designs, “space”) can be different based on the culture. But we often forget the “middleware”. Middleware is how we communicate doctrine to youth in their culture. Tim says we need to develop a theological vision. Whats a theological vision?

    Its a way to communicate the deep doctrine in a way that speaks to their hearts.

    Many churches struggle with holding fast to the doctrine… which is good. But they don’t translate it into the language of the audience! Teaching their kids the Westminster Shorter Catechism… but not why it matters to their need for acceptance or their individualistic culture. (This makes the bible irrelevant b/c it is foreign, hard to understand, and doesn’t meet real heart needs.)

    Other churches are culturally “relevant” in a way that their doctrines morph based on the current culture. (This makes the bible irrelevant b/c it reduces God into what they want him to be… the age old confusion… I am God and God is not.)

    Youth (everyone) need deep solid doctrine but communicated in their language on their level. How? Deep understanding of the doctrines and also an understanding of youth culture. How do they think, how much has the enlightenment affected their world, what do they struggle with? What words they use, how they think. The best youth communicators do this… some instinctively, some are aware.

    That is my suggestion… I’m not done with the book, but its fed me so much I thought many of you would like it.

    -A Youth Pastor in California

    • April Guillory says:

      We must not discredit, however, just how intelligent youth really are. High school and College professors don’t. I was not given paraphrases of great literature or ideologies by humanistic philosophers that were reconstructed to be “relevant” to my modern cultural constructs. So i believe that Christianity shouldn’t be Pre-digested for youth. Christianity is being sold by our education system as “small minded” and simplistic. And when youth are unable to defend their faith or the instructors know more about it, have thought more about it, our youth feel dumb and small minded for having believed it.

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s so ironic to hear Tim Keller being used hear to support the idea of changing style but not changing doctrine. I went to Tim’s church for nearly 20 years – and I only have one sad thing to say… he has changed doctrine. Did you know he teaches that “the primary purpose of salvation is CULTURAL RENEWAL”?

      In 2006 at an “Entrepreneur’s Forum” sponsored by Redeemer, Keller said:

      “Conservative churches say ‘this world is not our home — it’s gonna burn up eventually and what really matters is saving souls… so evangelism and discipleship and saving souls are what is important’. And we try to say that it’s the other way around almost. That the purpose of salvation is to renew creation. That this world is a good in itself… And if you see it that way, then the old paradigm if you’re going to put your money and your time and your effort as a Christian into doing God’s work in the world, you wanna save souls which means the only purpose of your ministry and your effort is to increase the tribe, increase the number of Christians.”

      And lest you think this teaching doesn’t play out in Keller’s church, look at this recent newsletter his church sent out – stressing our mandate to care for the creation.

      And in an email sent out by one of the church’s outreach ministries just this week, they invited people to join them in a homeless outreach. The purpose of the outreach as it was stated in the email, was not to reach the homeless with the Gospel of salvation, but rather – get this – to “bring justice to NYC”!

  146. […] check out this article… good stuff to chew on. Good stuff to pray about. Good stuff to avoid (not the article… […]

  147. April Guillory says:

    Thanks for comprising this into words. Absolutely true.

    • Dean says:

      I’d encourage you to ask the students you talk with if Evolution played a part in their decision to walk away. My guess is Darwin plays a huge role in the equation & deserves be included in the top 10. I think that is what you’ll find in the States as well as in Europe. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be that way any more. For nearly 100 this wall seemed impenetrable. It must have been really hard for Christians during that period. Then in 1953 Piltdown man was exposed as a hoax and the wall began to crack. Today it’s exciting to be a Christian that believes in the literal truth of Bible. Until recently one of the biggest arguments against the Creator of the Bible was “Junk DNA”. They told us if God was involved why is their so much “Junk DNA”. This argument topped the list for Atheist like Eugenie Scott and Theistic Evolutionist like Francis Collins. But today the idea of “Junk DNA” is considered one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology. What was thought to be junk is now thought to be vastly complex.

  148. Agnostic and wondering says:

    Thank you for addressing this issue. I am one of these “kids” a little ahead of the curve since I am 37 now. I had issues with hypocrisy in the church. Why does the fundamentalist evangelical not address the Bible as a whole? What has completely turned me off is the cherry picking. Gays = bad because it says so in the old testament. If that is the case, the old testament supports slavery, stoning, and polygamy, why are those not held up as Biblical and right? Jesus said the greatest of his commandments is to love thy neighbor as thy self. The Golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do to you. Jesus also stated that what one does for the least of these, one does for him. The face that the evangelical church presents is one of acceptance and love until you have any doubt or voice any questions. My family has excommunicated me as I am not willing to call myself a Christian anymore. I don’t see any room in the Church for doubts and questions. Carlton Pearson is a preacher who has been excommunicated for questioning evangelical theology on the concept of Hell. Maybe one of the issues the Church needs to address the inconsistencies with out just saying “faith” at all questions. One of my major questions is about the Apocrypha texts, who decided those books were not Biblical? Why was it decided? and why is the Catholic Bible different then the King James Bible? I think the last one has to do with politics, Henry the 8th and the Church of England. If there is so MUCH of the Bible that has been put together purposefully by man, how can the church call it divine text and say it is strictly true? The doubts have far out weighed my ability to keep calling myself a Christian. I honestly believe the 3 of Jesus’ greatest rules and truly try to live by the Golden Rule. I feel a little torn to love the ideas so much but not be able to stomach the dogma.

  149. […] I am a pastor and I don’t do that, unless my wife is around to scold me. I have just read a piece that has convicted me and I have to repent to you for doing ministry in an artificial way and I […]

    • marc5solas says:

      I respect the humility and transparency!

      • Steve J says:

        I had been a youth leader, for many years. The “fruit” of that ministry made me look for what wasn’t working. The message was a balance of Law and Gospel. Both presented and yet, little results. The kids that had solid spiritual leadership at home, remained in faith. Those that had shallow dirt, thorns and briars, were shortlived at best. Yes, some seeds have been planted, but the heartache and pain that these kids have put themselves through… Finally, I looked for the pattern of our ministry in Scripture and couldn’t find it.

        What I did find in the Bible was that dad’s were challenged with the task of teaching the children spiritual truth. I became a burned out youth leader . I believe I was teaching a Christ centered message (minus skinny jeans) but I was not the right one teaching it. Sort of like using a chisel for a screw driver. Yes, something does get done, but it takes longer than it should and the tool and screw gets damaged.

        When the church goes counter cultural and tells dads that they are important, needed and vital to the spiritual health of their family and generations forward… it is a message that they don’t hear anywhere else. Equiping them to do the task, is the call of the Church. As you expertly point out, the Gospel is the key. Healthy men, healthy families, and you will have a healthy church. Part of the epidemic today is men not being men. Godly men that have been so gripped by the Gospel, that they must be the primary intentional element in teaching their families about Christ. This is good Biblical fruit. If something isn’t working, it is good to ask the question, “What does the Bible say?”

        Sorry I got long, this is one of my passions.

      • Matt Jamison says:


        I think you have hit on a great point about the role of the father in Christian education. In Luther’s catechism, he mentions repeatedly that the it is the role of the father to teach the basics of the faith to his household. Of course, sometimes a single Mom needs to step up and fulfill this role in the place of an absent father but the father has no excuse: it is his God-given duty to teach the faith to his family.

        When I became a father, I was very scared about my willingness and ability to do this well. But what a surprise! What I thought of as a solemn duty turns out to be pure pleasure, even fun. Teaching the faith to my daughter is the most fun I’ve ever had; we make memorization a game and a challenge and spend a little bit of time on it almost every day. The Gospel is truly God’s free and overflowing blessing to all of us, teaching it is never drudgery.

        And don’t worry too much about results or what works in youth ministry. Despite your best efforts, it may look like a big waste of time. But a seed that you plant today may not sprout until many years later even when today’s teenager is on his or her elderly deathbed. God’s word accomplishes God’s ends whether you are there to see it or not, you are in no position to judge how effective it really is. Just keep telling the scriptural truth, brother, and know that your efforts are rewarded in eternity.

      • Shelley says:

        Awesome response! My husband and I were saved soon after our kids graduated from college. SO many things we would do different if we could do it over! But we’re Sunday school teachers now… just hoping to plant seeds in other families. But your reply just explained to me why my husband has been SO burdened to “connect with” and reach, many of our “bus kids” FATHERS. He looks for thinigs they have in common (hunting, boating, etc.) as reasons to invite them to join us. And then he (unlike me) seems to have God’s wisdom as to HOW to not be overbearing and pushy. Yup – I believe you have something there: We need to reach the fathers. Thank you!

      • J. Dean says:

        Agree completely with this. That children of Christians are receiving consistent instruction at home has a LOT to do with it as well.

      • acapulco fish says:

        Meh, my parents weren’t faithful. I could go to church, if I could get a ride. My neighbors were my spiritual parents who cared and taught me and brought me to church. Preach the Gospel. The elect will believe. Jesus saves. You don’t.
        Hey, maybe we are just in a time where we are being tested, tempted and tried in a way we didn’t expect. We just remain faithful. Jesus started with 12. We have, what, a couple billion? Chin up. Have faith. It is not our work. It is His. We don’t have to understand. We don’t have to know why. Only trust Him.

      • Pat Harris says:

        Excellent comment. Tx for sharing. Praying the church will learn this.

  150. H.Farmer says:

    Hi there. I enjoyed reading your post here, and I felt that it related specifically to my experience. I was particularly interested in addressing this excerpt from the last paragraph:

    “Don’t let another kid walk out the door without being confronted with the full weight of the law, and the full freedom in the gospel.”

    This is exactly the type of thing that drove me out of church when I was in college. I had had -enough- of the “full weight of the law” and the “freedom in the gospel” and the “blood of the lamb” and all those other heavy and ambiguous church anachronisms that did nothing but confuse me. All these complicated evangelistic ideas are man-made. Even the Bible (while divinely inspired) was composed and written by flawed people. Human opinion was benignly inserted into the greater message God put forth for the beings he so lovingly created and cares for. Opinions that have no value in modern society. Not because they were never true, but because we have grown. In 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and again in 1Timothy 2:11-12 , Paul discusses the abhorrence of women even -contributing- in church, saying that “…it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” … Even our Constitution has amendments. (I’m not suggesting the Bible be amended, I’m just saying that God is still speaking. Just because women were once considered second-rate citizens, deprived of an education, and kept in the home for example, does not mean that we should still expect them to behave that way.)

    When Paul wrote his letters, the world was a different place. Church leadership seems to pick and choose which ancient writings they deem applicable in the modern day church and those which can be left out. (Leviticus 19:19 seems to have been conveniently ignored, for example: “…Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”)

    Don’t misunderstand me. I believe in God. I attend a church that I absolutely love. I feel welcome and valued. The services are truly worship-oriented and the messages aren’t based off of alliteration-style bullet points (as a raised-in-church kid, I am waaaaay over this *charming* technique). I leave uplifted and encouraged. I start my week feeling more able to approach God with my questions and concerns, not less-worthy of doing so.

    I grew up in the big-box church with the televised Easter pageants (where anglo-Jesus was dramatically crucified, fake blood and all), Wednesday night rock-music services for teens (who were all wearing tshirts handed out at events held in lower-fellowship hall), and Sunday services never ended without an awkward and tentative chorus of “Come Just As You Are”.

    I was very into it while I was there. I cried at Bible studies, offered unspoken prayer requests, wore the tshirts, transformed my life on an annual basis at church camp, the whole bit. And as soon as I stepped outside of it, I felt like an idiot. I could see that the whole experience had been engineered by worship leaders, one service at a time. I’m not saying they were in-genuine people, but they had specifically created an environment where I confused really enjoying the music with -really- worshiping God (like you said). All I ever learned in sunday school was that somewhere, God was ‘preparing a husband for me and that I should be guarding my heart (and my virginity) so that I would be more ready to obey his vision for the family we would someday raise in accordance with God’s plan.’

    Anyway, I guess that if I had I not found a church where people find ways to live Biblically in the modern day and teach the Bible in a way that truly is relevant (because that -does- matter), that I would most likely not be attending anywhere. I appreciate that you took the time to talk to people about their church experiences and to understand their decision-making process. The church needs people who are willing to ask the tough questions, and who are willing to admit that they don’t necessarily have the answers, even with a Bible in hand. Again. Thank you for being willing to investigate, that alone sets you apart from many other people in church leadership.

  151. Steve J says:

    Excellent as far as this article goes. I believe that youth are best reached when the church doesn’t compete with the order laid out in Scripture with the family. Dads have a very defined role. To often we just tell them not to provoke their kids to anger, and view them as “Homer”. God has a plan for the youth… the church needs to equip the dad’s to do it. It isn’t one or the other, it is together.

  152. Leigha says:

    I think you make some interesting, and valid points. I would also like to add my personal reasoning for a delayed return to the church, following my college graduation (I had a great church in college).
    Who has been through a church split? Who has been through EIGHT of them? Me. From the time I was a very small child, I have seen anger, pain, hurtfull words and actions taken out against the ones I highly respected and loved. My family, and friends the receiving end and the brunt of truely brutal arguments between church leadership. We are human, and sinful creatures. I get that. However I have been more disappointed by the actions and examples of Christians within the organized church than I have of some secular or even athiest individuals. I have witnessed, in more than one church, a pastor under the age of 30, waltz in to a new congregation and immediately strip leadership of more than 20 years. Based soley on the fact that they were not card-carrying Elders in the church. This action then led to a petition from the church body, who obviously wanted the current leadership/teachers to stay….that was followed by more than half the church seperating when the under 30 pastor refused to budge, or even read the petition set forth my his flock.
    It saddens me greatly, but it is for those reasons that I have a hard time returning to the (building) of a church. I think this goes along with your “happy, happy, happy” point. I challenge anyone to PLEASE find me a church body that does not go through this turmoil, because I miss the good times! I miss the fellowship, the encouragement, the challenges to be better and stronger believers! It will always be hard for me to find that with this bad taste in my mouth though, I fully realize that.
    I hope and pray that I will come to a place eventually where I can comfortably re-enter a church in good, honest faith.
    – any encouragements and comments on my post are welcomed…I would like to hear from a post-split church that has made a covenant with their congregation to never split again! Do those exist, I wonder?

  153. […] Marc Solas gives his top ten reasons 70% of the youth in Christian churches abandon the church when … His astute comments are worth reviewing. […]

  154. Orthodox Ruminations says:

    Reblogged this on Orthodox Ruminations and commented:
    Some hard truth in this article. Of interest to American Evangelicals:

    “You didn’t misread that, I didn’t say irrelevant, I said RELEVANT. We’ve taken a historic, 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our kids. It’s not cool. It’s not modern. What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize.

    As the quote says, “When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.”

    I’m not ranting about “worldliness” as some pietistic bogeyman, I’m talking about the fact that we yawn at a 5-minute biblical text, but almost trip over ourselves fawning over a minor celebrity or athlete who makes any vague reference to being a Christian.”

  155. While I am not Protestant, much of this is true in other traditions. We dumb down education materials. Nothing past say fourth grade is anything more than fourth rgade again again and again. Teachers are scared to death to answer the tough questions and if they aren’t they aren’t really prepared to. Don’t be cool, be serious and then, you might end up being cool and what is more, credible.

  156. J9wegner says:

    Reblogged this on j9srandommusings and commented:
    The most succinct explanation I have come across explaining why we are losing this generation of CHURCHED kids…

  157. iceybunneh says:

    I am one of those kids who left the church because I didn’t relate to it, I always questioned the Scripture and I thought it was this stuffy shirt I was being forced into (like that itchy Christmas sweater you pretend to like for one day of the year). Coming back to God was the gift my husband brought me, but as for coming back to the church, I just don’t know if I can do it yet due to the above mentioned.

    Being enrolled in a youth group was probably the most awkward thing for me, as I didn’t know any of the kids in it and thought our group leader was trying too hard to be “cool” among the young kids. The husband had a really good experience with the youth group he was in but… I guess it might depend on the area you’re in or who you’re with? I don’t know. Our experiences are so vastly different that all I can do is trust in God and hope that He leads me on the right path, instead of letting others make the decision for me.

  158. Chip says:

    Interesting perspective….but I wonder how come something being relevant is a bad thing. I doubt people who leave the Church will tell you they left because it was too relevant and not enough pews and fire.

  159. El Duderino says:

    Church is not for everyone. Perhaps you really never had those kids in the first place.

    • marc5solas says:

      It may surprise you, but I completely agree. My contention is that we’ve not delivered to them the historica Christian faith, and they walk away inoculated to later learning. If you hear a clear presentation of the gospel and walk away from it, so be it. But if you walk away from much of American evangelicalism, you’ve walked away from something entirely different.

  160. matt says:

    You missed the most important reason of all. People with a leader do not leave their leader but people with a corrupt leadership will call that leadership false and want no association with it. Growing up in several different Baptist churches and also attending a Baptist college in SC the only thing my friends and I saw was that none of the leaders could get along and everyone had a different conviction and if you didn’t follow every jot and tittle then you were considered to have a “heart problem”. In the majority of today’s Baptist churches you always know who the “good” and the “bad” people are and not many people want to be associated with that kind of drama. Jesus didn’t point fingers so why would the leaders do it just to prove a point? Not to mention going through two different very large IFB churches that had pastors either have affairs or steal money. That’s not something many people want to be apart of.

  161. danno says:

    Good stuff. Wouldn’t you say that so much of our challenge stems from a mindset that preoccupies with success metrics that are probably misaligned with the gospel? Even the title of this post “[why] Our Kids Leave the Church” puts an emphasis on *numbers* of people who are in or out; coming and going. In the best case, we are thinking of the global, eternal Church of Jesus Christ, but don’t we immediately translate this worry to our own churches? If we’re honest, don’t we read this post and quickly think about what our own numbers and retention rates look like? How much of our fixation over growth and full seats and buildings and youth attendance stems from a western comprehension of “success?” I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be concerned about kingdom growth, but if kingdom growth were a *byproduct* of authentic gospel penetration and transformation, we may go about churching quite differently. Of course, attendance is easy for church leaders to measure. Real meaningful spiritual growth and maturity (in youth or otherwise) is messy and cumbersome. We don’t like messy and cumbersome. So, if we heed this conversation and “get back to the basics” (or whatever is the best prescription) to get kids to stick in churches, have we really made authentic progress for the gospel? How do we know? The mega churches have shown us that good programs and marketing can fill seats. We’re now a little skeptical of them—but not because we do or don’t see working manifestations of God among us, but because the programs and marketing don’t seem to *maintain* the numbers over the long haul. This seems to suggest that if the well-packaged churches held their numbers and continued to grow, we would never have stopped to question their “effectiveness.” If numbers are growing and staying big, then it appears we have it right? That we’re honoring the message of the gospel?
    Is the gospel message about membership size or something else?
    Maybe we’re asking some of the wrong questions.

    • marc5solas says:

      No disagreement here at all. Our hearts are so bent inward, that even when pointing out how we “miss it”, we simply come up with a different set of set of works to “get it”. I absolutely believe that God grows His church, and that He does so through the simple preached word of the gospel. Agan, this was taken from the point of view as “why they’re leaving” and not meant to propose a different methodology, rather the preaching of the gospel. If that means we lose 70%, we know that they’ve rejected the gospel and not our marketing plan to keep them in church.

      Great thoughts.

      • danno says:

        I think you hit the nail on the head when you suggest that maybe doing the right thing for the gospel risks losing, perhaps, 70%. I think being willing to risk attendance (and income?) loss is a step in the right direction. As church leaders, it would kinda suggest a certain amount of dying to ourselves…

  162. Abu Daoud says:

    My son is eight years old and knows the Apostles Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Seven Virtues. These issues you raise here are the reasons i left the Bible church I belonged to for Anglican Christianity.

  163. Tom Wilson says:

    – Our American culture does almost nothing out of a sense of duty as our ancestors but rather personal experience.
    – Today there are many more venues to satisfy our need for community, clubs, associations, malls, and the internet…
    – Biblical stories can’t compete with the silver screen, Disneyland, World of Warcraft, and destination vacations…
    – Modern medicine and our American affluence has replaced our need for a place of solace.
    – Science has replaced God and the Bible for our source for answers to many mysteries of the universe.
    – Our Nationalized education system has carefully indoctrinated our youth into looking to the state to meet our needs.
    – Our courts have incorrectly interpreted the first amendment and replaced “no state church” with only a secular humanism church in our state institutions, precisely what the constitution prohibits.

  164. Robin says:

    Excellent. I would add two thoughts. First, teens know when the adults around them truly love and care for them. They can spot phonies a mile off. People are often surprised by the high number of teens who attend our church. I’m not. These young people know that when they walk in our doors, we care that they are there. We are interested in their lives, and we let them know it. They receive affection and compassion that many of them either don’t or rarely receive at home. They know that for at least that one morning and one evening a week, they are in the presence of people who love them and don’t judge them based on their clothing, hair color, background, expressed ideas, etc. Do we teach them sound doctrine and try to help them overcome whatever sin is present in their lives? Of course, and we encourage them to ask questions, which are never treated as foolish or blasphemous. We allow them to know about our own failures, and we apologize and ask their forgiveness when we let them down. The reality is that for most of them, being with their church family is the only time of the week when they feel safe to be themselves, to express their fears, to express their love for Christ, to cry and tell us when they’ve failed, to receive compassion and assurance of God’s forgiveness, and to learn sound scriptural truths. We make an effort to know their names and stories, and we eagerly follow their accomplishments in the local news and make a point to comment on those successes the next time we see them. They also know that when they leave to go to college, they take part of our hearts with them. We follow up with cards, letters, care packages, FB and other social media, etc. They don’t go out into the world completely alone. Do some of them fall away? Yes, heartbreakingly they do. But I would guess that not one of them would tell you it is because they feel that this church body failed them. A church body can only do so much. I would also say that we are a church that never surrenders to the enemy when one of our youth falls away. We continue to pray for them, love on them whenever we can, ask how we can help them, etc. If they have no other confidence about anything else in their lives, they know they are loved here.

    Second, a church that does not equip its youth to defend their faith is cruelly leaving them open to the enemy. We require our schools to teach them how to make a living. Why aren’t churches teaching them how to defend what we’ve asked the Lord to show them to be the truth? It is a cop out to tell them when they ask questions that they just have to accept everything on faith. Faith is crucial, of course, but when we start them out, for instance, in children’s Sunday School with cute little cutouts of a tiny little ark with a giraffe’s head sticking out of it, and never more fully expand on the truth of the real size and scope of the ark when they are of an age to understand it, how can we expect them to believe that God is anything more real than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?

    Naturally, the greatest human influence in the faith life of a young person is his or her parents or whoever they live with. If they do not live in a home that is completely surrendered to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the church can only do what it can and pray, as always, for God to open other faith doors for them.

    Anyway, thanks for the great article and for the chance to share my views.

  165. Thank you for saying what needs to be said. Its not just young people leaving… I’ve been debating whether it might be more beneficial to stay home too. Not because I don’t believe, but because if I wanted a self help seminar, I’d find one. If I wanted to discuss a potluck, I could do that. But when I go to church, I want to worship and to study the Bible. To arrive and discover most people didn’t even bring one… its sad. And I’m 40!

  166. Reaha says:

    For me this is wrong i am 21 and raised in a Christian home. The biggest thing for me was feeling judged by the church. Also everything I learned was based on fear, do this or you go to hell, if you don’t act this way, you’ll burn forever. Just not so appealing. Now I would consider myself a spiritualist I still believe in god but for me it is personal and I do not need church or the bible to be close to the god I know.

  167. dgp9794 says:

    Granted, things are taken to excess, but if every church sang nothing but centuries old hymns and had stale old men preaching long, sleepy sermons, you would be losing a lot more young people than you are. I lead a praise band in the “contemporary” service at my church. The music I choose is FULL of the gospel message. Young and not-so-young are engaged. THEN the pastor comes out and delivers the proper gospel message. As I said, this can be and is overdone (I’ve seen it too), but don’t trash the whole approach. We’re reaching kids that otherwise wouldn’t last thirty seconds in some of these stuffy churches. Whether you want to keep up with it or not, the world is changing. I don’t agree at all with losing the true message in some of these new approaches, but it is very short-sighted to believe that the message can’t be delivered in any method other than how you learned it back in the day.
    I also recognize there were other very fine points made in the top ten list-I just needed to say my peace on that particular point. It can be done well.
    By the way, I’m 44 and my jeans are relaxed fit, but I wear khakis on-stage.

  168. otguy says:

    I am saddened by the fact that you have chosen to censor disagreement and did not approve my post. I am truly curious, based on the criteria you gave you in your blog, what would you think of a ministry like with Steven Furtick?

    • marc5solas says:

      Again, not censorship based on differing view (as is clearly shown by the sheer number of differing views in the comment section), just have to draw the line somewhere. Lots of places online to have these discussions, just not necessarily in the comments section.

      As for Furtick, I think he’s a prime example of the narcissism rampant in the American church. I’ve listened to several of his sermons and walk away amazed by his ability to make himself the hero of every biblical story. This will probably be perceived as “hating” on him, but I don’t know the guy personally.. just speaking to his message.

  169. […] couple people on Facebook have mentioned an article called Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church. I thought of commenting on it yesterday, but decided not to. Then today my wife mentioned it […]

  170. David says:

    So why are the Youth from Orthodox Church’s leaving as well?

  171. Eric Verhulst says:

    Maybe so. Indeed, at time’s I’m sure it’s so. But I also get folks leaving for the cheap knock-off of last night’s entertainment. I’ve had folks explain that they’re going to a different church because they have hot chocolate.

    So I think some of these reasons are instead ex post facto justifications that allow a person to pin the blame for their decision on someone else. For almost all of us, we prefer to say the problem is you, not us; the other, not the self.

    Find me the congregation where they teach the historic gospel, don’t feed the pablum, expect the families to worship together, and all the rest, and the vast majority of time you’ll also find me a small congregation of mostly older members.

    That doesn’t absolve the church of her responsibility to seriously testify to Jesus, with force and depth, neither is it permission to proclaim a shallow faith, but the Gospel is a stumbling block to the “spiritual” and foolishness to the “wise” as it always has been.

    As for the apologists, I recommend Alvin Plantinga (God, Freedom, and Evil / God and Other Minds / Where the Conflict Really Lies – just to name 3 of his books).

  172. Lauren says:

    This is excellent. Thank you so much for addressing this important issue.

  173. Thank you for sharing this article. As the wife of a pastor formerly doing college ministry and the mother of a teen, we see the disservice of the church on our youth by not faithfully teaching Jesus, but instead seeking to be relevant and fun. After reading the similar research in the book Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean this past summer, we took upon ourselves to do our own teen forum. Sadly and sobering in the honest dialogue we had with these teens the gospel, the necessity of the church body and adults involved personally in their lives are in most cases absent.
    The only encouragement I am left with is knowing God in His goodness will bring to the Father all that the Father has given Him and in that we are stripped of all our pride and human techniques. And must trust that He will be glorified even when it seems impossible in our modern culture; church culture included!

  174. Donald says:

    I’m 26, away from home and have been since I was 18, don’t go to church and wish I did. I’ve made several attempts at finding a church 90% of the time my thoughts are “I’m not looking for a concert with a theatre show in between, I’m looking for a place to learn more about Jesus and the bible.” I have many many doubts and thoughts and questions and would love to find a place where this is regular and discussed as opposed to shoved under the rug and smiled on top of. Eventually I feel confident I will find a place to settle into but as of now the church isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, deep discussion with my friends will suffice until there’s a church that provides these things.

  175. Reblogged this on itsjessdotcom and commented:
    10. The Church is “Relevant”:

    You didn’t misread that, I didn’t say irrelevant, I said RELEVANT. We’ve taken a historic, 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our kids. It’s not cool. It’s not modern. What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize.

    As the quote says, “When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.”

  176. Benjamin says:

    I’m a 20-something who grew up in the evangelical church and haven’t attended church more than a handful of times since I started college. I’ve just gotten tired of all of the things mentioned in this article, and the hilarious thing is that I always believed I hated liturgy and the ‘old way’ of doing things. I just went to a Catholic mass this past Sunday and loved it. It wasn’t self-consciously trying to appeal to the masses. It was just a worship service, and that difference really struck me.

  177. […] Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church. […]

  178. recovered southern baptist says:

    i was a church-going, deeply spiritual teen, who truly believed and was moved by what i felt. around the time i graduated high school, i became disillusioned with my big baptist church for it’s teachings and business practices. you forgot a critical reason – so many churches are fraught with squabbles between little minds, judgmental attitudes, with no real consideration given to the needs and welfare of their local communities. why did i leave church? my youth group wasted hundreds of dollars of food with turkey bowling at thanksgiving. people who were lifted up for ‘prayer requests’ that were a chintzy veil for hateful gossip. the youth group was more about ski trips and the other trappings of upper middle class society than having christ-like attitudes. where would jesus ski? i’m 29 now, and this church just completed a multi-million dollar renovation of its rec hall… even though it is in a community that has a lot of poverty on the other side of the tracks. in short, i quit church because it was more of a country club than a place to feed my soul. why the hell would i seek spiritual sustenance among such judgmental, entitled, oblivious people? this church seems to have forgotten that jesus lived simply and his most important commandment is to LOVE – not outreach with the newest technology, or hip slogan-bearing bracelets, or flush money on expensive spiritual retreats, or try to reform others who you perceive to have some spiritual deficit. i quit because i discovered for myself how important and fulfilling it is to love others SIMPLY as they are. god does not call us to rescue the world. he calls us to LOVE it. many churches have it assbackward and that is why i left. i know my experience is just with one church but have talked to many others who felt the same way, in different churches.

  179. Rich Thomas says:

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, (when I heard the gospel for the first time at the age of 25, after growing up in church, I was downright angry. I asked a lot of people, “Why am I just now hearing this for the first time?”) but as I was reading down the page, I was hoping you had some redeeming talk at the end. Your essay is all “We never… we don’t… we won’t,” etc. You astutely point out the problems, but there’s not a word of “We can” or “We must.” But then, Reform theologians aren’t exactly known to be strong encouragers.

  180. Tim Hancock says:

    Thank you. As a pastor with a teenager at home I pray that her mother and I are living a true and vibrant faith. As a pastor who has been face to face with the results of our failure I cry out to Jesus in hope that there is still time to turn things around. As a parent with a child leaving for college in August my greatest fear is that she will choose a different way than the Way she was taught.
    Father forgive us.

  181. Donna Olmstead says:

    Thanks. I’m 65 and been trying to say this for some time now. You gave language to my heart.

  182. John says:

    I’m in the minority here it sounds like, but since when did we start thinking church was the place to take kids to be saved? The church has never had the power to save. Only the gospel has. If kids aren’t seeing Jesus lived out in the lives of their parents on a daily basis, catechizing them at church, no matter how relevant or irrelevant it is, will have little effect.

    Kids fall away from the faith of their parents because the gospel of Christ has not found a place in their hearts. We should stop blaming the church for this. The modern church, as we know it, is nothing but a symptom of what this generation has become. It is easier to have a “relevant” service with a rock band, emotional multimedia presentation and a hipster “pastor” to make us feel close to Christ, than it is to let the love of Christ rule in your heart on a daily basis. The kids aren’t falling away from church, they are abandoning the hypocritical lifestyle of their parents.

    Parents have abdicated what God has given to them. They’ve given up teaching their kids through words and action. They’ve allowed the “church” to educate and entertain their kids. They send their kids to youth groups in hopes that they will “find” Christ there. The youth “pastors” often don’t ever want the parents involved. Can you imagine? The teachings of Christ in the home has been replaced by scripture verse magnets placed on the refrigerator and “lock ins” at youth group.

    I have four kids, who by the grace of God, are walking in the light…. Oh, and I was a youth “pastor” when I was young and foolish.

  183. Shelley says:

    I’m a Christian and a member of an Independent Fundamental Baptist church in Montana. I would like for every Sunday school teacher and youth group leader in our church – to read this article. I really do believe our church is handling this WELL at the present time, but I don’t want to stray from it, and this article has some GREAT warnings about what NOT to do. Thank you!

  184. Coby Amoraal says:

    Can you emai me this blog pls or put it in a printable format? Thanks!

  185. deairby says:

    Well thought out article. (it was a bit too hard to read with the dark background and font color)

  186. Sorry, but I am from the Church of Christ, and we don’t do any of these things you mention (which are basically megachurch gimmicks). However, we still lose much of our youth, in about the same amount as you say here. Thus, since this is not the model the Church of Christ follows, I believe there is much more to it.

    • Shelley says:

      Hmmm.. I feel the same way about our Independent Fundamental Baptist church. We don’t do any of those things he mentions, and we DO teach the need for salvation, and the saving grace of Jesus Christ, from the beginning (as early as 4 years old). And as you said, we still lose them in droves. So I’m curious to hear what you think the real problem (and the solutions) is?

  187. addresstwo says:

    I love this article. It articulates so much of what I have been trying to challenge our elder board with for years. But here is my sticky question: how do I present this critique and the full weight of the horror it should rightly invite without sounding judgmental of the efforts out pastor and elders have put forth with every good intention in mind?

    • marc5solas says:

      Sorry for the belated response. I wanted to give this the time it deserves (and do so less publicly). It’s tough if folks are interested in pragmatically following seeker-driven (Rick Warren, Willow Creek, etc.) methodology. All I can recommend is pointing, in scripture, to the churches PRIMARY role of preaching the gospel. As an aside, if you’re hearing the buzzwords of “community”, “living the gospel”, “God’s great plan for your life”, or “church isn’t for the saved”. You’re in a for an uphill battle.


  188. Lynn says:

    Thank you Marc for this article. I am a mother of two, a grandmother of a college-aged grandaughter, as well as twin grandsons soon to be born. What an eye-opener this article is and a heart-opener too. Lord help our kids find their path back to You, help us parents as well. We need you Lord.

  189. user12345654332 says:

    Speaking as one of the few people on this forum who this actually applies to and can provide insight on it, this piece is incredibly spot-on. As an atheist who grew up almost spending more time in the church than not, and even attending a private christian school so I’d learn as much as possible about the inner workings and philosophies of Christianity, and still attends high school worship at a mega-church heavily focused on youth worship, I would cite many of those reasons as my original dissatisfaction with the church. All theology aside, the shallow, hypocritical, and heavily fabricated environment of youth worship centers today serves to drive away even the most heavily dedicated and well versed students.

  190. […] Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church. […]

  191. Trylar says:

    Very aware observations, Marc. You present some very real reasons why the Christian faith is dying in the United States among the hard-line evangelical subset. It’s not necessarily pertinent to your points, but you fail to mention that the children who stay in church all the way through their lives, or those who return after their college years or after starting a family, are more fervent and steadfast in their beliefs and the evangelical message, or at least their personal understanding/interpretation of what that is.
    Your points seem to indicate that you don’t care much about whether individuals conduct themselves in a Christ-like way or not, which is bothersome. You seem only concerned that some undefined (and perhaps undefinable) ideal of a Christian church be realized—imposed, even—in the lives of the families that comprise a congregation. Which is more important, Marc, the people who believe or the spirits and customs they believe in?

    • marc5solas says:

      The purpose of the article was to speak specifically to reasons given by those who have left the church (which would explain why in didn’t cover the other demographic). To make the charge that I don’t care about people acting in a Christlike manner is, to be charitable, an argument from silence.

  192. Joel says:

    This is pretty much exactly why I left my evangelical church as a university student and joined the orthodox Anglican Church in North America. Thanks for putting it so plainly, Marc.

  193. Barry Hall says:

    So, lots of good observations about what is wrong. Lots of good ideas about what should change. Any thoughts on how to help the people in the church to change enough to actually do what you are suggesting?

    • marc5solas says:

      I’m not suggesting another methodology at all, simply gospel proclamation in whatever context that church exists. Understanding the transformative power of that spoken gospel frees me from the need to change people. Way out of my paygrade. ;)


      • shirley hinton says:

        Exactly..Everyone is different by Gods design , The Gospel … the pure Gospel….The Holy Spirit of truth will take hold when there has been a real transformation or sometimes later, but He does ..there should be a evidence .MY moto the just shall live by faith ,,I just don’t see the faith walk so often ………..I see do it my way walk..Its too much work to try and modify the world.Give the gospel .No gimmicks No promisies except His .

  194. Brandon Rios says:

    Hi, I’m a 17 year old named Brandon. I was saved two years ago. I understand that I could never have earned right standing with God through works of the law, or of anything less than His amazing grace shown to humanity through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. I have repented from my old way of life, crucified the flesh, accepted Jesus as my LORD and Savior, and now, to His praise, enjoy an ever increasing and developing relationship with the living God of the Bible. I take seriously the command to “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; perservere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16 NASB) Now, the reason I commented was because I am a member of the youth that this article describes. And I agree with this article. Importance must be placed on having a personal relationship with God and a healthy spiritual life, founded on the objective, true, historical Jesus and the Gospel He preached. Solid doctrine, philosophical reflection, and personal application are necessary components of the life of a Christ follower. For we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, not to face condemnation, but to be judged on how we were stewards with what was given to us by God. He looks at the heart, the motivation, behind each action, so we must be constantly assessing, correcting, and humbling ourselves when dealing with these problems and seeking to correct these issues. Thank you for your contribution, I enjoyed it and shared it on my Facebook account.

  195. wifosaurus says:

    These are excellent points; thanks for sharing! We don’t give youth enough credit. They know from a very young age when someone is being genuine with them and when someone is trying to sell something. Even in not-for-profit churches, sermons are altered to get people in seats. Catchy slogans and bright graphics are fun, but they are icing. The Word is the cake, and we need the cake before we get sick of the icing!

    I do wish, however, that the text on your blog were more readable. Avocado and bright pink against brown isn’t much contrast, and the text is so small that even when I zoom in, it’s still tiny! Reading it, I feel a bit more like I’m 54 than 24. I’d spend much more time reading your words if they didn’t make me squint.

  196. Lindsey says:

    Yes! Like someone else said, you hit the nail on the head. I grew up in a denomination that is heavy on the teaching of theology- something I actually resented as a teenager. I left my parents’ church to go to a more “relevant” church with better “community” and was eventually appalled by the lack of understanding my peers had of the Gospel. When I went to college and was faced with all sorts of doubt and opposition to the Faith, it was the solid teaching of the Word and the history of the church that kept me rooted. I had been taught apologetics and hermeneutics, so I had answers for the hard questions. Most of my friends from that “relevant” church I fled to have since left the church…with no intention of returning.

  197. Gil T says:

    I commend you on some true and detailed insights. Like you, I’m not opposed to the jumbotron, pizza parties, but it is the soft pedaling of a death-free children’s gospel kids grew up with in the fellowship of the saints which I oppose. The death of Jesus is just that, – of Jesus, not them. Instead, they are intravenously fed a palatable nice message just for kids.

    Yet, this is in no small part because the leadership of the church, who in all likelihood grew up with nice-child-turn-nice-kid law, approve of this safe, sanitized message.

    Get real, saints.

  198. Maria says:

    Good article. I can totally relate. I grew up in a very social church, was president of the youth group, very involved in everything that went on. My father was a deacon, my mom in the choir. The gospel was never taught or preached and sin and the consequences of it were never mentioned. When I left home I left the church and spent several years searching for something to fill that aching void in my spirit. It wasn’t pretty. Thankfully the Lord brought me to Him and I’ve never looked back. Now I am raising my child to know and love the Lord, to understand who He is and why we follow Him. I’m not perfect but she is getting it. Even very young children can understand the gospel and their need for a Savior. Discipleship, even of the very young, is key. That’s why the scripture talks about a father teaching his kids at all times: sitting, walking, etc. He’s making a disciple and modeling Christ for them. Keeping them pointed toward Him during every phase of their life, good and bad.

  199. […] Marc5solas writes: Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community . . . you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be “relevant” to them would be a comical cliché if the effect weren’t so devastating. As we jettisoned the gospel, our students are never hit with the full impact of the law, their sin before God, and their desperate need for the atoning work of Christ. Now THAT is relevant, THAT is authentic, and THAT is something the world cannot offer. […]

  200. I’d like to read this again, it’s interesting. But you really should consider changing your font and text colors. It’s burning my eyes. I think I like what you are saying though.

  201. 1. Many have never received Christ
    2. Many have never made their parents’ faith their own
    3. Many have been deterred by sin
    4. Many have never studied the Bible
    5. Many have seen more hypocrisy than those who truly love The Lord
    6. Many have grown up in churches that do not consistently abide in John 13:34-35
    7. Many Preachers are seeker-sensitive rather Spirit-seeking

  202. adaydream says:

    I am one of the thirty percent who remained in church. But that was despite youth group, not because of it. To this day, I am literally afraid of college/youth groups. I’m twenty-two, and they terrify me.
    The leaders running the youth group wanted to be cool. They wanted to be fun and exciting. So they lifted up the cool kids, the in-crowd, and set them on a pedestal. Put them in positions of leaderships. Made them worship leaders.
    I was not a cool kid. I was, and am, a nerd. But I was also the only one who listened to their sermons, who studied the lessons they handed out, who would have devoured any attention they gave me.
    But I wasn’t cool.
    I wasn’t popular.
    I was never given a position of leadership. Those went to the kids who wouldn’t answer when I spoke to them, gossiped, cheated in class, have a different relationship every week. Who probably couldn’t tell you the difference between Saul and Solomon.
    I was never discipled, never mentored, never received the one-on-one attention that was doled out to the popular kids.
    I’m twenty-two years old. I’m about to graduate from college. The sight of the ‘youth’ pews at church still gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.
    Because the only place in the world I should have belonged is the place I was rejected.
    And it still hurts.

    • Jeremiah says:

      I too have been “rejected” because I was not cool. And for years I carried that hurt. Wondering why. But then a few months ago I heard a sermon by Paul Washer and he said that when another, older, and wiser preacher found out that Paul Washer wanted to be a preacher. The older man asked Paul Washer “Boy, can you be alone?” Paul Washer then goes on to explain that while everyone else is at camp and singing “Cum by Yah” can you stay and be alone. When everyone else is out doing “cool” stuff can you be alone.–

      (Friend of mine was talking to Leonard Ravenhill one day and he told brother Ravenhill, he says, “Brother Paul Washer, a dear friend of mine, is really going through some struggles and some terrible times.” Leonard Ravenhill sent me a little tract. It’s got written on it, “Brother Paul”. And the tract is called, “Other’s can but you cannot.” And what it says is simply this, “Okay, let everybody else go walk through the mall all day long. Let everybody else watch television. Let everybody else go to some silly Christian concert, God’s not in. Let everybody else go to Christian retreats and ski trips. But if you really want to be God’s man, they can but you cannot.”

      When I was called into the ministry, I went and told my pastor in Texas, a very, very, very, very used man of God. And he looked at me and the first thing he said is, “Boy, can you be alone?” And I thought he meant that if I preached the truth, I would be alone. That’s not what he meant. What he meant was, “Can you break away from the rest of these boys and go seek God? Can you shut yourself up to Him?”)

      It hit me that Jesus has been protecting me this entire time. If I had been accepted in youth group, church (especially the one I attended while in college), and the college ministry: I might not have looked to Him to fill my needs. I would not have had those alone times where I spent them with Him– reading my Bible, writing, and praying. I now see from the beginning that God was calling me to be alone. it was His grace and nothing more that kept me “alone.” It was so freeing to know this because all the time I carried that hurt I wondered what was wrong me? The only thing “wrong” was I did not have the worldly appetite of those who rejected me.

      I hope this encourages you.

  203. Andrew C says:

    There’s way too many comments on here for me to go through them all to see if this has already been stated, but I would love to see a logic list like this for kids who left the church but still want to be Christian. I basically fall into this category; I seek fellowship through biblical discussion with friends, because I relate to most of what was said above while hoping to retain my faith as best as possible. I would love to share this with my old church leaders and discuss this with them, as friends, but I’m afraid I’d give the wrong impression and suggest that I left Christ when I left the church, which I don’t believe I did. Thoughts?

  204. Anibas says:

    I know I’m probably going to get a lot of negativity on here as an atheist responding to a Christian blog post, but I actually find this article to be very interesting, and, for once, remarkably levelheaded and honest. I’ve never gone to church, so I don’t have the kind of perspective on this subject that you all do, but I have friends who are Christian, and it seems to me from what I’ve seen that your points are very accurate. My generation (I just graduated from college) is one that has made an effort to separate itself from tradition, and especially with the political battles over social issues that have come into conflict with more conservative religious beliefs, modern youths who are exposed to a wider variety of lifestyles (in more urban areas for instance) may turn away from religion if they see it as perpetuating old fashioned values that are no longer valid or relevant. I think the issue of church not being relevant to young people extends way beyond making it “hip;” people can see through that kind of pandering, and as you pointed out, it tends to have the opposite of its intended effect. In order to truly make church relevant again to young people, you have to take modern issues into consideration and accept the fact that some traditional values need to be let go.

    What I find particularly interesting about your article (and this is where I expect to get some criticism) is that, from my perspective, you seem to have exactly laid out the reasons why organized religion is antiquated and unnecessary. Please understand that I mean no disrespect when I say that–it is still perfectly within your or anyone else’s right to hold religious beliefs, but it seems to me that society has gotten to a point where religion is more effective on an individual level. Let’s face it… a LOT has changed since the Bible was written, and as time goes on it becomes harder to justify picking and choosing the parts that you want to hold on to. Since community can be found elsewhere and the primary values that the Bible (or any other religious text) teach can be learned just by participating in society… well, I think you put it quite succinctly: they (we) don’t need it. If Jesus specifically is still important to you and you feel a need to pass that on to your children, then you can raise them as you see fit and you can provide an atmosphere in which they can discover their own spirituality. But religion really ought to be a personal relationship to begin with, and I think the church’s role in religion is (and should be) diminishing.

    • marc5solas says:

      I wouldn’t expect you to be rudely received here, and I certainly won’t tolerate it. Welcome. Thanks for reading g and commenting.

      I will say that I hold to an external standard beyond culture, so there would be some cultural change that I wouldn’t make as it actually contradicts that external standard.

      Thanks again for reading!

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for this comment, Anibas. You made some of the points I wanted to make, except your are better written and you don’t sound like a jerk the way I would have.

  205. Don Clough says:

    Great article, sir! A lot of churches simply don’t preach or teach through the texts of the Bible. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for teaching for doctrine the commandments of men, and we are seeing the very same things in many of the mega-churches today. That being said, not every church is this way. I had grown up in a church where the Bible was diluted, and the youth department was all fun and games, and no substance. In April of 2000 I started attending a New Testament Baptist Church in Rochester, MN. For the first time in my life, I heard that I personally had offended a holy and righteous God and that I was deserving of the punishment of Hell. For several months, I was under deep conviction as my pastor preached that I must repent of my sin and place my faith and trust in Christ. Finally, in July of that same year I received Christ as my Saviour. I am so happy to be a part of a church that faithfully proclaims the gospel message; that teaches and preaches the plains truths of the Scriptures. My family and I now serve as missionaries in Scotland.

    Can I just encourage everyone with this thought: there are still churches out there that faithfully preach and teach God’s Word! You don’t have to be in a church that makes a mockery of God’s Word; there are still churches out that hold to faith once delivered to the saints!

  206. bb says:

    Also there is this: In church pple always say “we are just pple, we hurt each other but it is okay, there is grace-” anyways when a kid realizes that his non christian friends care more about how he is feeling and less about what they think is moral, and when some kid gets into trouble, and he turns to his long beloved youth pastor, but he just replies with a verse, when all the kid needed was some love… than no wonder kids leave. I am one of those kids, who left after I got 19. I still believe in God – contrary to the belief, that leavers forsake God. Why I left? First of all I had ony an abusive fasterparent. everyone at church told me to obey her. And I did, only to find out later she was sick and made the pple around her literally die. When I grew up, my youth leader told me he knew it all along! And I ended up suicidal at 17. And what was the resposne? They said i was demonized. Working on staying alive is a long way for me, and still not easy. But judgements will not make it easier. I do not feel like God is judging me. But pple are so limited, they can only stare from behing the glasses of adorment or judgement. Which is fine. But just because you are a church pastor- does not mean you should not be educated. Because if he was educated he would not run around telling everyone my secret and finding out things like I am demonized. Cancer is also an illness – still we never say they are demonized. Another thing is, children should not be educated on Bible related violence so early at sunday church….

    • marc5solas says:

      Lots to work though here! First of all, I’m sorry to see that your email name is “ucantrustno1”. There must be some background there.

      “In church pple always say “we are just pple, we hurt each other but it is okay, there is grace-”
      Has someone actually said this to you? If so, it’s clearly in contradiction to scripture which tells us to not abuse grace in this manner.
      However, folks will sin against you, and you sin against them. Every day. By not loving them as yourself. We seek to follow Christ’s example and command, but extend grace to each other as we (inevitably) fail.

      As to the rest, man… I’m sorry. I’m sorry you were mistreated and I’m sorry your were hurt by those in pastoral leadership. There are times we need the correction of scripture, and in times of brokenness, we need the rest of the gospel. God is judging you, but if you are in Christ, you are judged by His righteousness for you.. so rest in that.

      I don’t know all the “stuff” that’s happened to you, but I know that God loves you and has called you to repentance in faith. You were created in His image and have value. I pray that you know that!


  207. […] parent, I strongly recommend that you read THIS insightful and timely blog post listing the Top 10 reasons our kids leave the Church. It will probably blow your mind (in a helpful way, […]

  208. Reblogged this on CCYM and commented:
    An excellently stated article that all youth and their parents ought to read.

  209. Parson says:

    Do the parents and church bear all the responsibility for an individual’s rebellion? Is it possible for both to get it right and still end up with a kid who goes astray? Maybe there should be a #11: The students I interviewed were all sinners like me.

    I’m not saying the church and parents couldn’t be doing a better job, but it seems a bit arrogant for a student in the midst of rebellion against God to point the finger at everyone else for doing a bad job.

  210. […] Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church – Marc Solas We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then… they graduate from High School and they leave church. What happened? […]

  211. marc5solas says:

    I appreciate the work that went I to this response. I think it would make a great article on your blog. I you don’t have one, this would be a solid start.

    • shirley hinton says:

      I appreciate your thoughts on all of this I did what I should my husband and I did together we have a very unique story . God blessed us in so many ways but most of all spiritual understanding of His living word ,,then great Godly anointed people in our lives great teaching . BUT still the world is out there and discernment in so lacking especially today in leaders. SOOOO lacking . We have truned of by the gimmicks .The balck walls and rock stars… etc.WE cant find a church around here .. We did find one and we are visiting but you know its disappointing at times when you see the same thing in a different way.I trust Gods word and His leading . His spirit.But we do miss Christian fellowship. We are from the sixties and got our act together and God blessed us. We are not easily fooled yet sometimes I wish I didn’t see things the way they are.I am not puffed up I stay humble knowing we can easily fall with out Him.We are no match from the enemy.WE at one time thought we were and that’s how we learned :) So Yes I agree with your thinking and I am so glad someone is taking this on..I am personally tired of Obama this and Obama that and our kids and youth are being led by pied pipers.

    • shirley hinton says:

      PS my daughters should read this ….I am going to send this to them they are both good women . ALSO sorry for all the mistakes in my letters I get in a hurry :)

    • soulreunion says:

      Thanks. I appreciate your willingness to examine this honestly without ill intent or being mean-spirited. We need more dialogue handled this way. Less angst, more answers. Kudos.

    • soulreunion says:

      Hi again, I left a lengthy comment earlier today and wanted to add something to it. Now it seems to be gone. Whaaaaa???? What happened?

  212. […] This is a helpful article on the “Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church.” […]

  213. Billie says:

    I find it interesting that you replied, “There will always be rocky ground, so to speak, but if they reject something, let it be a clear presentation ofthe gospel.” Are you truly ok with losing so many Christians? I’m curious, as no other church leader in my experience would be. And of course, once it was a rejection of the message, rather than the content, then the person in question is truly lost, yes? Because I suggest that if other denominations and types of churches experience the same percentage of fall off, the problem is not really presentation, but message. I left the church for many of the reasons expressed by other commenters–hypocrisy, intolerance–but mostly because as an intelligent, tolerant woman, there was no place for me. I separated the church from the message, to see if what I knew and loved was worthwhile, and found it wanting for many reasons I won’t get into here. Of my friends who grew up “in the faith”, there is a percentage who never left and a percentage who go back, usually when they have kids. From my perspective, in both cases, it’s because the message satisfies a need. If you don’t have that need–if the message isn’t personally relevant to you and your psychological or spiritual make up in some way–then the church will never be more than a community center. The “church” is unlikely to accept this, I suspect and will continue to mourn its “lost lambs,” who will go home for holidays dreading hearing how disappointed Grandma is that her grandchildren are going to burn in hell.

    • marc5solas says:


      If I understand your question, then no, I’m not happy that anyone rejects the gospel, but we do know, from Christ’s own words, that not all will. I will mourn their loss while celebrating the grace of He who brings repentance to ANY.


  214. shirley hinton says:

    Raising four I have observed this..Yes even when you teach them take them to church and spend all the time you have at home teaching Bible truth , praying with them etc..once they walk out the door its hard to watch…very hard…..train up a child what you have to cling too or……………………drive yourself crazy.But the “church” comes in another form their “spouse”…OH BOY wait for that one…..They really do pick up some good ones from that relationship..then you have to sit back and bite your nails to the bone wondering if they will ever be back again ( to normal )Its such a test of your own faith in Christ and His promises. When they also are really adults, and when they are in a spousal relationship with a person who has never lived the word or really know it or wrose their “PYSHCO” yes is said that ..its a double triple trial by fire ..not to even mention the grandchildren.BY Gods grace you crawl back on your knees humbled and beaten and hold on for dear life.Thats when you say God is not a liar and He will finish what He started,and start to live and breath again.You realize they really do leave and cleave and you must let them really go until they gain their own balance and love for Gods word and the real spiritual walk .When they stop fighting and questioning and trust just like you did.You also pray they wont be one of the ones the Bible talks about where they are cut off for the salvation of their souls.That would be really hard to watch and live through. BUT still you are left with …TRUST HIM>>>
    Love your parents you only have them for a short time bless them and be a blessing to them stop being selfish another words,

  215. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Let’s let our kids grapple with the Truth so that they will be strengthened by it. That will keep them because their faith will be real, and it will be theirs. I’m so thankful for that, ’cause I look awful in skinny jeans. Thanks for such a great post.

  216. thisidup says:

    I can’t possibly expect you to answer every one or these responses any more than I could possibly read every one of them. I am simply commenting on the term “relevant.” I am an historic Baptist and hold tenaciously to the teachings of our Baptist/Christian heritage. I do not seek to be like the world to reach the world; I deplore this idea of coffee house style “churches.” We adhere to the old paths. However, we certainly do want to address “relevant” objections and questions about the Gospel and the principles of Scripture. In this we MUST be relevant or we risk the very same things you describe above . . . becoming IRRELEVANT. Not to argue, and I suppose I am splitting hairs somewhat, but I thought I would make that qualification.

    My Name is Jack Seiler and I am the Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Gowanda, New York.

  217. jamin says:

    I loved everything about this post. I was side-eyeing it through the end, though, but your last paragraph pulled everything together nicely. I thought you were against all worship formats except for hymnbooks. LOL

    I think I’ll link to this article for my blog post today. We don’t need to “sell” the Gospel. This isn’t a product. I would also like to add that young people often leave the church during college (from my experience) because they’re in a new world and it’s often easier to stay in bed on Sunday because you don’t have judging eyes in your home church who will say something if you’ve missed a couple services. They don’t have to deal with that or the threat of it, and it’s liberating as they find their way.

    I totally agree about Joel Osteen being horrible for the church because his messages won’t stick or apply to real life outside of his stadium-church. He just says things that sound good. The true message of Christ won’t always sound good or make sense.

    I’m also chuckling at these Atheists and Agnostics who grew up in church and depend on science, technology, and a “moral code” (which can fully be moral, I’m not saying it isn’t) based in…?…whatever seems to make sense to the person at the time? Treat everyone the way you want to be treated IS a good start, but I’d just like to see a framework or standard, and even laws don’t provide that. I’m mostly chuckling because the Bible says that when you train up a child in the way they should go, they won’t depart from it when they’re old. Now, some churches water down the Gospel to kids or have the completely wrong application, but the Gospel is powerful enough to get through the weirdest resistances. That being said, I’m a firm believer (because I’ve seen it) in Proverbs 22:6. The train WILL hit you eventually, it seems. I’ve known a few hardcore Atheists (they mostly became Atheists during the surge in the 60s/70s) who are committed Christ-followers now.

  218. kevin says:

    Marc, nailed it.

  219. soulreunion says:

    Interesting read, much to think about and discuss.
    The main point I keep returning to is that we have to stop being reactionary believers. Those who currently lead churches today bring with them the wounds and grievances of the hurts they experienced in their teen years, so they set about trying to “fix” it, or prevent it from happening to the upcoming generation. But this will ultimately fail on two fronts:
    1- it robs the Gospel of its message of perfect redemption for individuals, through all ages, in all circumstances. When we focus on where we perceive our faith experience failed us, and we start filtering our gospel message through that filter, we unwittingly teach that life inside of redemption is incomplete, lacking, not enough. That, simply, is a lie. So we’re not teaching truth. Think of it in familial parameters. If I am a member of the “Smith” family or “Jones” family, circumstances, challenges, failures don’t make me “feel” any less “Smith” or “Jones,” because I’m part of that family no matter what. It’s merely part of my personal journey/experience as part of the family.
    Which brings me to
    2- it frames individual faith experiences in terms of deficiencies, rather than in the ordained intention of the Gospel, which is full, complete atonement for sin. The message is beautifully simple, yes. But the manifestation of redemption’s work within individuals is a complicated, abstract, messy masterpiece! I love the image you convey when you describe sitting on a pew between parent, crying baby on one side, elderly folks on the other side. It’s the visual expression of the concept of the timeless nature of the Gospel! We are who we are because of the cumulative experiences within our walk of faith. Our mistakes and painful experiences reveal that life in Christ is a recurring conversation where we’re asked, do we draw closer to God, or walk away?
    I am fully convinced that there will always be imperfection in the manner in which we try to prepare teens to take ownership if their own faith. But I am also fully convinced that God is able to accomplish all that His Will intends, in spite of (and because of) our clumsy missteps.
    The message is the same, for all times, for all people!

  220. Chris Barnes says:

    I read pretty much ALL of the replies and one thing I find interesting is that pretty much everyone (including the author) is equating “leaving the church” to “leaving Christianity”.

    They are NOT the same thing.

    Sure – those who leave their Christianity will leave the church. Well, most of them (some will continue attending a church for appearances sake, social reasons, etc).

    But how many have “left the church” – but have never abandoned our faith?

    • marc5solas says:

      You sir, are a glutton for punishment to read through all these comments! ;)

      I’m less concerned with the theological implications of whether someone can be “saved” and not be in a church family than I am with the
      actual daily work of sanctification as this plays out. The church is where we receive the word and sacraments and where we find our accountability. The loss of those things is not something I would recommend doing intentionally (though there are those who for geographical or extenuating circumstances are UNABLE to be a part of joint worship).


  221. Ian says:

    I believe an issue even bigger than this is that churches don’t value youth pastors who attempt to integrate the types of teaching which seem of greater value than parties. I was a high pastor with two masters degrees and would attempt to teach apologetics, philosophy, etc. and was frowned upon by the church staff.

  222. My question is- “Is there someone, ANYONE who has written an article titled “Top 10 Reasons Why our Kids STAY in Church”??
    I’m a Youth Worker. I love my kids. I know their lives. They share the struggles. I’ve watched kids that I have loved, prayed for, and spent countless hours sharing God’s Word with, head off to college and LOSE THEIR MINDS. (And their way.)
    I don’t need another article telling me the problem- I’m there. I get it. Can someone please write something that gives me some answers? I mean concrete, real world, rock-solid answers on what a trench worker should DO? And what do those answers look like with “skin on them”?
    I think you have a really, really solid grip on the issues. It’s obvious that you earned that insight. But now I’d like someone to give me some answers, instead of another really astute diagnosis of the problem.

    • marc5solas says:

      While it is heart-wrenching to lose ANY of our kids, our goal is not finding a methodology to keep them. The point of this article is that, in the end, we often end up not only not preaching the gospel, but losing them with the “stuff” we thought would “keep them”.

      1. Preach the word, in season and out of season. The full weight of the law and the full rest of the gospel.
      2. When in doubt, refer to point 1.

      We’re going to lose some. We may lose many. Let’s make sure what they walk away from is the gospel of Christ, their only hope in life and death.

  223. zacharypennell says:

    Reblogged this on -Pennell and commented:
    For someone working in youth ministry this is a relevant topic and seems to be addressed a lot as of recent. Youth that move out of High School leave the church, this blog address some of those reason.

  224. Nikki says:

    You really should give credit for your images. The “Alot” image belongs to Allie Brosh, author of Hyperbole and a Half, on her post titled “Alot is Better Than You at Everything.” Using that image in a blog post like this kind of misses the entire point of Hyperbole and a Half. Blogging etiquette 101 – give credit where credit is due.

    If you need the link:

    As for your other images, I don’t know if they’re yours of if you also failed to credit others.

    • marc5solas says:

      Thank you for the etiquette reminder. Please notice that it os already credited at the bottom of the blog as well as a couple of times in response to others who have missed it. ;)

  225. Amber Ingram says:

    Absolutely! Thank you! Bravo! Some of these things i have been saying for years. Thank you for putting it so eloquently!

  226. Jack Davidson says:

    I went to church until I was old enough to decide not to go, and I’ve never looked back. The biggest problem I had is rooted in the fundamental belief that Christians have it right, and everyone else is doomed to suffer in hell. With some distance and soul searching I’ve come to the comforting conclusion that God is revealed to the world in myriad ways, and certainly not limited to the Christian belief that “accepting Jesus as your personal savior” is the only way to experience God’s love. I live in New York City and see groups of kids evangelizing on the streets (how can you miss them), and can only hope they wake up and approach what they’ve been taught with critical thinking and common sense, and come to the conclusion that there is more than one way to live. I’m thrilled and relieved to have nothing to do with Evangelical Christianity, and feel a great sense of peace in knowing that God is nothing but love. You wonder why kids leave the church and never return? It’s called maturity and growth, and they’re better for it.

    • marc5solas says:

      I think you’ve helped demonstrate some of my thinking in this article. Those kids you pity are holding to an external/historical faith. You have chosen an internal/personal belief.

  227. […] Edge Youth Ministry.’ It was a helpful article, and I read another one today called ‘Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church‘ that I’ll interact with later this […]

  228. Andy Lewis says:

    Keep on speaking out on this. We must drop our definition of “church” and make our way so painfully over to Jesus’ definition of church. You’ve described what I’m finding in my city and in my ministry. Jesus help us be the church you have in mind.

  229. There has been a lot of discussion regarding worship music styles, correct way to preach the gospel, seeker friendly churches, but I thought the discussion was about our young high school students who have been in the church youth programs for several years. Yet they leave the surroundings of their local church body and cling to the next best thing which is the college community. The question is why do they do that. Is it that they did not hear the gospel and take it to heart. Was worship music only engaging but not spiritual enough. Was the preacher a lame old dude thinking that putting on skinny jeans would make him a BFF of the students.

    What I have found to be a simple way to gain insight into the mind of a student is to ask this simple question. “Is there such things as absolutes?” First of all most students don’t even know what the word means, let along if there are any. I asked this of students who where high school juniors and seniors in the youth program who had completed several years of AWANA training. To my dismay many said no there are no absolutes. I followed up with “Is Jesus God and the only way to eternal life?” Yes, was their answer. So can some one also be saved through (I listed other major religions). Their answer was yes. You see Jesus is the only way for them, but so is other belief systems for their school friends. Our children are continually feed a diet of moral relativism and suffer from what is called in the bible double minded. This of course leads people to be, as James 1:8 say “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Our child thus enter the world so, “unstable,” that the world easily knocks them off balance and they fall away from there belief in Christ to a belief in what ever makes you happy.

    As a youth leader asks your faithful students, who know Christ as their savoir, pointed questions regarding Jesus as, the way, the truth, and the life. You will more than likely get a big resounding yes Jesus is my personal savior from them. Follow that up with so if a friend of yours believes X religion, do they to have the way, the truth, and the life, and they to have eternal salvation. What you will find is that well over half of your Jesus believing students will say yes they too are saved by their faith in X. It’s not that your students don’t trust that you are telling them the truth about Christ as savior, its that they also believe that God is a loving God who would not “condemn”, their friends to hell. What they struggle with is that Jesus and God the Father in the bible they learn about hates sinners and therefore condemns sinful people to Hell. Which is a lack of understanding what the verse “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, really means. What is missed by many students and people in general, is that God so loves everyone, including sinners which is all of us, that he gave them Jesus as their way to overcome there sin and rejoin Him along with all the rest of His children who love him, in heaven for all of eternity. God loves everyone so much that He would never force Himself on them, for that would not be love. So if someone while on earth choose not to love His son Jesus, and therefore God’s provision for overcoming sin, why would God the Father ever force a life of eternity in heaven with Him on that person. Here on earth when someone forces themselves on another we call that rape. God loves them even if they choose to not love Him back. They choose to not want to be with Him for eternity. It is not God who condemns an eternal life in hell, for Jesus is God provision, It is the person’s choice to live an eternal life without God. Hell, which was not create for man but for those angles who rebel against Him, is where people who reject His loving answer go for eternity as they have proven they don’t want to be with God while on earth, so they get what they want. Teach God’s loving gospel of salvation for all along with why two things cannot be true at the same time. Child can handle that well if you just give them simple examples of how that works in their life. Most people reject absolutes at first but just make it personal and they quickly will reveal how much they want absolutes to be involve in their life. After all, how many people would want someone who truly believe that stealing is Ok, in their homes while wholeheartedly practicing that sincere belief.

    The writer of Palms 119: 113-114 makes it clear that we should never allow our children to grow up to be double mind. It says, “I despise the double-minded, but I love your instruction. You are my shelter and my shield; I put my hope in Your word.” So teach your children that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. That what is say means He is the only way. God’s word is the absolute truth and that God does love their friends and wants them to be apart of Our Father Kingdom here on earth, so that they too can be in His Kingdom as it is in heaven just as Christ taught the disciples to pray. For we are the Kingdom of God here on earth. Let’s act that way and show God’s love and mercy as He has shown us when it comes to sinners like us.

    • Michael Keays says:

      Jim: I found your post intriguing, as I never heard my youth pastor or any pastor put things in quite the way you have done. It is very thought-provoking. If I were a youth, I would naturally ask, “So what happens to people who were never exposed to the Good News, and so didn’t have a chance to make a choice? What about children who die before they are born, or isolated natives who never hear the Gospel?” I assume you have an answer for that.

      I think the hardest thing youth and adult Americans face is having to assess people and their behavior. We have become a society wherein people believe that we can sustain forever the notion, “Do whatever you want to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt me.” Nobody wants to be “guilty” of judging someone else or their behavior. Political correctness encourages this way of thinking, but I’ve also heard pastors say that they don’t want to prech on accountability for actions and choices beause it will drive people away from their church.

      • Holding students accountable for their behavior is not my goal when I take a step forward into their lives. They have lots of people who can do that in their lives, including me. It is the time I spend with them in their world watching and learning who they are. The youth pastor explained to me that as a leader my place is not to have a job, but to be their for the students. When I make the effort to care about them, they will care about what I have to say to them. I am a volunteer youth leader. My profession is as teacher of middle and high students in the public school system. However, it is the same in both environment. I may not be able to present the gospel, however, nothing compels me to teach lies. What I think is the most important aspect of effecting the direction a young student will take after leaving youth group/high school would be how they would wrestle with the following question. “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” Dale Teckett. If they cannot at least contemplate “yes” as a possible answer, then truth and reality does not exist for them in an meaningful way in their life. Therefore if there is no “TRUTH” or reality, then they will fall for any lie and life is just insane. My hope is that I can ground them in reality by helping them understand how to identify truth. If you know what truth looks like, then it is much easier for them to find the TRUTH.

        Regarding students concerned with others. God is Good! God is Sovereign. He knows about the person who does not hear His Son’s name. He cares for them as much as as he cares for the student asking the question. However, the student now has no excuse because God sent me to tell them. And it is their responsibility to know God, love Him, and obey Him when He tells them to go and tell those lost souls.

  230. Durable says:

    Reblogged this on Durable Faith and commented:
    Durable wife spotted this great find and I thought I’d pass it along. Enjoy.

  231. Scott Eckart says:

    As a frustrated youth worker, living in a VERY affluent community, I am so distressed by the level of “I don’t care” and just plain cyniscm from our youth, that I am not sure what to do next…? How do we best communicate in this age of hyper-sexuality, mistaking social media for real communication, and everything else that promotes a me first world.

    • marc5solas says:

      I know it’s repetitive, not much of a “to do” list, and certainly won’t sell any books on leadership methodology, but…..

      Preach the word. Law and Gospel, Sin and Grace, Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins. You’re going to lose some anyway, it’s a fact. I wouldn’t want to someday have to account for having them, being charged with gospel proclamation, and losing them after entertaining them for a bit. Seriously, that thought would keep me awake at night.

  232. Jim says:

    This is so true, I work with Children and Teens, and Each summer I train Teens how to Teach Bible lessons and Share their Faith, these are Kids who are sold out for Christ, they go out and Share the gospel hundreds of time over the summer. and Yet when for an illustration I ask someone to come up and say the books of the bible only 2 of them (out of 115) claim to know them, and of those 2 only 1 was able to do it with out profuse struggling. Now I know that being able to say the books of the Bible is not required for Salvation or a Strong relationship with Christ but if our “Churched” Children arent even being taught the basics, in their homes, at church ect…then Wow what are they being taught.

  233. edlut says:

    I know this is just a blog, and that the writer is just another minister instead of a social psychologist or someone who can actually account for this phenomenon with any rigor, but the very idea that people need church in order to be good or saved is fallacious in and of itself. The whole point of the crucifixion was to remove the gap between man and god. The church is a mediator just like the priesthood that Jesus died to relieve us from. That people are drawn to groups like churches is a fact of human nature, but in the strictest interpretation of the word of God physical buildings, organized services, and “community” are not necessary to practice the faith. It might be upsetting to see our children and grandchildren leaving the church, but that’s probably more due to the increasing decentralization of information and authority. Why rely on a pastor who has spent 4 years at seminary when you can read the works of the world’s greatest theologians or simply skim through the gospels online. If we are to admit that we like the services, because we enjoy to watch people wallowing about in self-deprecation as an act of social atonement is one thing, but as it says in Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

    • marc5solas says:

      I hope you don’t find this too impersonal, but I think this was answered, quickly, and in much greater quality than I could:

    • Barry Pierce says:

      John 17: 1 Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4 and other Scriptures teach us that the Body of Christ, and each born-again member’s participation in that body — Body-life — is a vital and integral part of each believer’s growth in Christ and of the Church’s witness to the world.

      We cannot write-off the Church as an optional add-on in which a born-again person can choose to particiapate or not. It is the Lord’s chosen organization for chipping away, smoothing and polishing the believer into the image of Christ.

      It has never been a trouble-free enterprise (see the New Testament). And there has never been a perfect group/congregation. But is has always been God’s will for believers to be part of a body whenever posssible.

  234. SiverJohn says:

    I find this post quite offensive actually. (I am a non-believer to the point that Christianity can some times anger me into an antagonistic mood. I was raised Christian, and later deconverted.) I am sure that the author is completely correct in there gathering of data and seeing as that it seems a non scientific can not be judged harshly. So I could or could not be an outlier, but regardless of that two things really annoy me about this post. The belief that if I just knew more about the bible it would change my opinion on Christianity and would have given me more faith. I will concede that I have never read the whole Bible, I unfortunately never got out of the Old Testament when I began reading it from cover to cover. That is fine though because a lot of my arguments against Christianity come from that point (the genocide at Jericho being one of my personal favorites). It is also alright because even the New Testament the idea that we must try to become Christ-like is truly miserable and was a big push in my deconversion. I dare you to try and control all of your emotions so that the only thing you do is in honor of the Lord or Jesus, and if it doesn’t nearly destroy you then I’ll be surprised. I mean all desires and everything, if you so much as look upon a man or woman too long to notice anything other than their presence you’ve just sinned and should immediately ask for repentance. Now you may claim that to be too extreme, but you are talking about someone who was truly sinless and stated that it is better for one to remove one owns eye to save the rest of the body be thrown into the pit of hell if it looks with lust. You could argue that is a metaphor, but still a quite strong one. That faithful following of the Bible will be detrimental as it is impossible. Which is the message of the Bible right? We need Jesus and that was what his sacrifice was for. Yes now think about it in the same way that I did Jesus has to bear all of my sins and therefor each time I sin he bears more that he did not have to. I have actively caused him more pain and I can not do so freely with a clear conscious so after I sinned I would break down crying to God. This lead to my eventual prayer every night that God would send an angel down to kill me (flaming sword in the stomach, slow and painful what I deserved for causing my Lord so much pain). And why wouldn’t I want to die? I got to go to heaven and serve God eternally. After battling with the desire to die, I finally got tired with it. I wanted to know God didn’t help me with my sin, because I read the bible and he claimed he would at least do that. So yeah then I began investigating and fell into category of number 8 I became smarter and see many more problems with God then just the fact that the whole sin system is flawed.

    • marc5solas says:

      Thanks for the honest reply, Jonathan. I do understand that the gospel is divisive. I certainly won’t play the martyr after a few harsh criticisms online. (Not that I took your post as one).

      I do not believe that all who hear the most accurate presentation of the gospel will be moved by it. Jesus said so himself. My assertion is simply that churches which still claim to be Christian are not accurately presenting the gospel. Understanding that as the “heart” behind this article may make more sense.

      I think you were given (or understood) some errant teaching on the nature of the atonement. Your “new” sins do not retroactively cause more punishment. Christ atoned for all of your sins; past, present, and future.. even the sin of doubt.

      Thanks again for the honesty.


  235. Julie Snipes says:

    In all of the comments below I have not once read about the parents responsibilty to their children “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” -Proverbs 22:6. This is just as much a refenece to teaching our childern biblical truths as it is about raising obedient children. God himself tells the parents of Isreal to write his law on the doorposts of their homes in order to teach them to their children. It is not simply the church’s realm to be the surrogates of teaching the youth the things of God. It is for the church to encourage its members in applying the gospel to our daily lives and understanding how it is we work out our slavation(sanctification) in order that we as parents present this to our children and teach our children what it is that we believe and why. Far too many churches have abanndoned the doctines that the adults don’t know or understand what to belive themselves and have no way of trying to convey this to their children. If anyone wants to learn how to train children in the way they should go by helping them understand what they believe and why they believe it, I have used “The Catechism for young children” for my 1st and 2nd graders which is based on the Westminster Catechism (available through Doorposts) and the Westmister Shorter Catechism which expands on the childrens catechism for my 4th grader (available on Amazon), as part of their school cirirculum. We as parents are tasked with the teaching of our children

    • marc5solas says:

      I absolutely agree with the need for children to be taught in the home. While the scope of this article speaks specifically to how we (as the church) have failed our youth, it is certainly not meant to negate my responsibility as a father.

      • Julie Snipes says:

        If it is the parents of the youth that make up the church, the failure of the church is the failure of their parents to teach their own children how to love and serve God. If as a manager I delegate a task to an employee who performs poorly or not at all, while the employee bears some resposibility, ulitimately the responsibilty would fall to the manger tasked with making sure the job was done properly. If I as a parent I delegate the teaching of God’s law to the church, I still bear the responsibility of making sure that the church is doing it properly. I think that you may have misundedrstood the point I was trying to make. The church has failed the youth because the church has failed to teach the parents to teach the youth.

      • marc5solas says:

        It’s not either/or. As a parent I certainly have a responsibility to teach my children.

        Just something to think about, if church leadership isn’t teaching the gospel, it’s the fault of the members as well (who tolerate it).
        If you’ve dropped your kids off into ministries which aren’t teaching the gospel, that’s on you.


  236. […] was reading this article today: {BTW. I recommend that you read that, it’s a VERY insightful […]

  237. stylerdeuce says:

    This rings exactly true for me, right down to the response “I didn’t know that” when I was finally presented with the gospel… except I grew up in the church 40 some years ago. The liberal church removed the weight of sin and the freedom of grace via Christ and the cross back then and the evangelical church is doing it now. Every bit of this article resonates with me, and frankly I wish it didn’t, because I wish I didn’t have to mess up my life living like the world and the consequences of doing so to understand the weight of my sin… I would have rather been taught it in the church.

    • marc5solas says:

      I certainly agree that the American evangelical church (specifically within the church growth and seeker-driven models) is on a quick slide to theological liberalism. Which, considering how politically conservative most are, is quite surprising. I heard some remark recently that the average evangelical would never stand for someone to mold or allegorize the US Constitution in the manner with which they hear scripture preached every week.

  238. Karen P says:

    These reasons are valid for adults leaving the church, too. We get tired of all the games, the bells and whistles, the programs that require more and more money. Give me Jesus, crucified for my sins, resurrected to give me life eternal. Today is Ash Wednesday. I’m giving up ‘church’ for Lent.

  239. Ben says:

    All the more reason we need to talk with them thoughtfully before they leave our ministries and homes.

  240. Jim says:

    you left out the real reason: ‘They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. (1Jo 2:19 CSB)’

  241. Hello. I’m an editor of a Christian newspaper. How do I contact the right person to see if I can get reprint permission?

    Thank you,

  242. Liz says:

    Did you get permission to use those 2 art pieces from Hyperbole and a Half? I believe the artist actually sells them as prints, so using them on your blog could be copyright infringement. And even if it’s not, it is the polite thing to do to credit someone else’s work when you use it. Just something to look into

  243. chelslynn says:

    I would have to say I sadly agree with this post. As a twenty something girl who grew up in the church, and who still is passionately pursuing a life in the image of Christ, I understand that I am not the norm. Ultimately, my generation, and the generation behind me longs to be loved, accepted and valued. They want to be apart of something bigger than themselves. Being authentic is important, showing you care and investing in the lives of others trumps out a pair of skinny jeans and a pearl snap shirt every time.
    As followers of Jesus, we need to ask Him how He would like us to represent Iim and do just that. He knows who needs Him, and He alone knows how best we can love them.

  244. Lisa says:

    You left out “parents”. I don’t disagree with the things you’ve said, but I believe parental influence or lack thereof is an enormous factor, especially if we are talking specifically about children who are “raised in the church”. If kids aren’t seeing the Word of God lived out in the lives of their own parents, why would they even bother to seek a faith of their own? If their parents are merely “Sunday” Christians, what appeal is there in going to church once the decision becomes their own? I remember a gentleman coming to speak at my congregation many years ago about Christian Evidences or Apologetics or something along those lines. I don’t know how he ended up talking about children exactly, but I do remember him saying vehemently, “Nowhere in the Bible did God place the responsibility of teaching Christ to children on the leaders of the church!” That responsibility God has laid solely at the feet of the parents. Bringing kids to church and then expecting Sunday School to take care of their souls is missing the mark. And perhaps those 20-somethings you spoke to don’t even realize how much their parents affected their decision, but I believe it is true nonetheless. It follows then, that perhaps instead of trying to create more programs or the right type of programs to reach the youth, the church needs to direct its efforts at teaching parents to teach their children about Jesus. I am not saying do away with Sunday School or Youth Group by any means. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s not so much the church that needs to be relevant to the lives of youth either, but the Word of God. They need to see how it absolutely applies to their daily lives without any embellishment or device, that they can go there and find answers and if the answers aren’t clear, they will at least find examples and encouragement about how to conduct themselves and endure when God seems to be silent.

    I could go on, but I won’t. :-) Excellent post!

  245. Jeff says:


    It seems to me that much of American evangelicalism has bought into our cultural value of “market transaction” by employing human processes to quicken human hearts. We have reduced our experience to “if I am not personally fulfilled, I will seek another community” forgetting along the way that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish this through the Word, the Sacraments and His gentle calling voice. Sadly, in all of this we equate empirical measurement as the way to “prove” the work of God.

    I have observed this across a broad range of Communions: Main Line Protestant, Reformed, Baptist, IFB, non-denominational etc. For those reading this please don’t interpret this as a criticism of doctrine or theology that isn’t my intent – it’s an anecdotal observation emphasizing that this isn’t unique to any one group of evangelicals.

    I think that part of this is due to the fact that our thinking and world view has been indelibly shaped by a “post enlightenment” value system that emphasizes above all else material, empirically measured things as “proof” of existance. However the things of the spirit transcend material reality and we’re not comfortable with that reality. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ parables teaching about the Kingdom of God in Mark 4: Faith is a mystery. If we consider the whole of the Gospel, nothing is “rational” in terms of human understanding. A transcendent, eternal, omnipotent God would enter into a state of humiliation by clothing Himself in a human frame by being born of a virgin, willingly constraining Himself to time and space? That’s not rational. That God would spend 1,000+ human years teaching humanity, through a chosen race of people, that His standards are unattainable through human effort, that sin must be atoned for through blood, that this sacrificial system of animal blood can never truly atone for our sin so He himself became the final and complete sacrifice by willingly offering his life to atone for sins so that we would be justified? That’s not rational. That a man (Jesus) who died was raised from the dead by the Father to establish final victory over death? That’s not rational. In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves nothing in the Gospel would be considered rational by human reasoning. Perhaps this is why why St. Paul was inspired to write: “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing”.

    We have subscribed to the notion that Faith is a result of a process: if we “package” the Gospel just right people will be moved to pray “the sinner’s prayer”. Or if we have just the “right” youth programs our children will grow in their faith and all will be well. Furthermore, too often we have reduced the Gospel to “God wants you to have a fulfilling, self actualized life” (see Joel Osteen among others). We have bought into the notion of what Dietrich Bonhoffer described as “cheap grace”. We refuse to embrace the “Costly Grace” of the Cross: a grace that calls us to weep over our sin, a grace that calls us to suffer for Christ’s sake, a grace that calls us to surrender our will to the Father. A grace that calls us to look beyond the temporal comforts of this world and seek the eternal comfort of being found with Christ.

    Ultimately In all of this, as you have so thoroughly pointed out, we have failed to properly chatechize our youth. I also believe that we as parents have failed to live out our faith before our children and to constantly instruct them in the faith in the home. Then we scratch our heads wondering why our children leave the faith.

    My wife and I have 2 young adult sons. One pursuits his faith while the other struggles. Our hearts break for the one who struggles. We have a greater and deeper appreciation that only the Holy Spirit quickens faith. Therefore, we sit in quiet reverence trying to stay attune to the Spirit’s leading in how we can encourage both of our sons’ faith. I pray daily that they will remember the promises that God made to him through his baptism and that God will preserve and protect them. Through all of this I have learned to appreciate Martin Luther’s thought: “pray and let God worry”.

    Soli Deo gloria

  246. meg says:

    I left the Evangelical Church for the simpkr reason that I could no longer, in good conscience, belong to an organization that was so completely intolerant and hypocritical. For a religion that is supposed to be based on radical love I find that 90 Percent of the Christians I meet to be extremely judgemental black and white thinkers and their philosophies – rather than bring families together often permanently destroy family. Having said that freedom of religion is a great thing and I support evangelicals to continue to prostelitize I simply just don’t want to be a part of their movement. Narrow fundementalism is not for me and I would hazard that it is not for many youth as they grow into adults.

  247. Tonya says:

    I have to say, I agree completely. and my own #11:

    THERE IS NOTHING (at least in the Silicon Valley where I live) FOR COLLEGE YOUNG ADULTS. There are TONS of “young professional” type groups, but nothing aimed directly at those in between high school & careers. I am seeing this lived out on my own home and is is quite heartbreaking.

  248. Aleta Lewis says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for speaking truth into what we’ve done with the Bride of Christ and giving teens a voice. I am a pastor’s wife, a LMFT who works with teens and 20 somethings, and a proud mom of a teen. Youth find themselves perplexed, depressed, and white knuckling it trying to survive in a world where both the world and the church are selling something that is consumable. Our faith is not a commodity but we sell sell sell spiritually seekiing people something that is shiny when you get it and then tarnishes quickly. Ravi Zacarias said, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” We as the American church have won people with slick, shiny and superficial ‘faith’ because we are overly concerned with not being cool or accepted. I grieve for us. All of us, and I pray the Lord stirs and rises up a people who shouts no more and is willing to show brokenness, struggle, and imperfection.

  249. Jeannie Smith says:

    They leave church and never return because they were never born again to begin with. When you have been, you can never be satisfied again without serving the Lord. You are nothing without Him. He is the reason for it all, or else you’re just lost and undone.

  250. Pastor Dan says:

    I was a pastor for around 40 years. I appreciate you post. My children are now adults. They struggle with their faith because of the critical attitude of church members. The church leaders accursed my wife of faking her illness when she was very sick. No wonder my children and friends where turned off to the faith.

  251. […] 4. Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave the Church {link} […]

  252. sharon says:

    Both my children have left the church at the same age too! In their 20s. My son was quite involved in the worship team and very talented. There were to many critics and as my son puts it-his faith was not being challenged nor was he getting any “meat” in the messages as well, there were negative people within the church that in the end turned him away. I pray daily that they will come back or at least go to another Bible believing church.

  253. Charlotte says:

    I’m sorry but your article sounds like yet another rhetoric from a guy whose “cool” trying to be “real”. I’m not a child–I’m 54 years old; I have a 23 year old son. Neither of us plan on ever going back to church–and I’m a dyed in the wool Christian all the way back from the seventies.

    Here’s why we aren’t going back to any church:

    Churches use hypnosis now. How do I know? I have my degree in psychology and the behavioral sciences. The music is designed to tap into alpha waves. So are the dimmed lights.

    There was a time not that long ago that churches ran the schools; the hospitals; the charities and community (yes..THAT word) activities. They showed up at one another’s houses when someone was sick or needed help. Everybody did everything–not committees. Church WAS your community..for real. Everybody knew everyone else–very well. Now? Its–how many can you get into the door to listen to more than forgettable sermons.

    The sad truth is–churches don’t exist anymore. Just..pastors who want to talk–and bring in more people–who’ll sit and listen. The money goes to pay electricity bills and rent. It was never meant to do that.

    People are leaving church because–there just aren’t any.

    • marc5solas says:

      Thank you for the much needed laugh after moderating all these heavy comments! My teen daughters will certainly get a kick out of me being accused of being “cool”. ;)

      So to make sure I understand your logic, you are neglecting your biblical call to commitment in church community because the church is no longer biblically committed to the community?

  254. Alisha says:

    I agree whole heartedly. So what do we do about it?

  255. River says:

    So true I walked out on the “church” before I graduated. I have been through so many name it claim it programs. I love Christ and the message of the cross, Paul taught that our righteousness doesn’t come from the law(do/don’t do) if it did Christ died for nothing. I have returned to the faith of the historic church, a church alive with real issues and the saving grace found only in Jesus and Him crucified.

  256. This article burdens me greatly. Though I raised seven children in the church, there are only 2 who go regularly; the others have given these very reasons for not going that were mentioned in the above article. I can see some obvious failures on the part of us as parents, and some not so obvious. There are some on the part of the church I suppose as well. I think it would be a good idea to have seminars or studies on this most important topic in our churches , and elsewhere. It prompts me to instigate such a motion. I thank you (Marc) for this eye-opener. -Sandy

  257. mscwebmaster says:

    The artwork from Hyperbole and a Half is not appropriate for this blog post – a lot of her work is rather profane (although extremely funny). Also, I don’t see her as giving permission for her work to be used for a blog post like this. Also, it’s not enough to give her credit – you have to GET PERMISSION from her! A lot of people have been stealing her work, and a friend of mine who knows her says she’s been quite ill.

    Just because something is on the web doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain (you obviously haven’t received and extortion letter demanding thousands of dollars from Getty Images, who has bought up most of the stock image companies – I personally know 5 people who have received the letter).

    How do you steal someone’s work (again, giving credit is not enough – copyright law allows the creator to determine where, when, and how their work will be used, and if they want to charge a fee for it or not – and then post it in a blog about God and the church? What kind of witness is that? The Bible says we are supposed to submit ourselves to the authorities, and that includes the U.S. Copyright Office. I would have sent this to you, Marc, privately, but you don’t have contact info on your blog.

    • marc5solas says:

      I want to answer this publicly, as its been asked more than once; I have used the images from hyperbole and a half (because I think they’re very well done) and sourced them as the artist herself (Allie Brosh) has requested from her FAQ page. To be accused of presenting them as my own work or not sourcing them is simply inaccurate.

      If this is not sufficient, I will remove them. Although well done, and funny, they are simply not worth the any continued issues.

      • mscwebmaster says:

        You are correct. I just checked her page. Please don’t misunderstand – yours is a great post, and her work is really funny, but profane. I shared your article on my Facebook page, and some of my friends very familiar with her work were VERY confused seeing her work on this post, and they were expressing their concern to me. I can clear up the copyright thing with them, but not really the presence of the images in the first place, because they know my witness. A few friends even avoid using profanity on things they think I’ll see, or they apologize in advance. Anyway, I really enjoyed your blog post.

        Sent from my iPhone

      • marc5solas says:

        I’ll review the content. I certainly don’t want to trip anyone!

  258. JavaJeff says:

    I think your insights are spot on. However, it seems many of your reasons point to the fact that kids have “left” the church long before they graduated High School and went off to college. Once they reach college, they can finally physically leave that which they “left” years earlier.

  259. Dale says:

    Real talk my brother. Things always go hay-wire when we neglect the leading of the Spirit as is evidenced in what a number of our churches are doing! Let’s make a change! :)

  260. briffany says:

    Good read, I would be more interested in an article that tracked the reasons for the returns. I.E. what event brought them back/caused them to leave, not based on what they say but what they do. Peoples criticizms of the church tend to be inacurate and incredibly biased. Just my experience that what people say their reason for leaving is and what actually caused them to leave are vastly different. :)

  261. […] article first appeared on Marc5solas and is used with […]

  262. […] I’m thankful the author wrote this article. He wrote down many things I’ve thought about over the last few years. Sadly, I don’t know much about him, only that his name is Marc and he has a blog titled, marc5solas, and that he comes from an American Evangelical background. To get the full article, click here. […]

  263. Nikki says:

    I’m certain that I will be repeating many things that have already been stated in the comments, but I still felt compelled to respond to the article. I am in my early 40’s, and was raised in the catholic church (I know, very different from the evangelical church). I left at age 17, when I went to college, and searched for many years to find a place that I could belong. Growing up, I had a mother and father who were, and still are, devote believers in Jesus the Christ, and who truly tried to live their lives in a Christ-like way (not always succeeding, but truly trying). I grew up in two churches where there were certainly hypocrites, but where overall people really tried to do what was right, people who truly believed in the bible and its teachings. I honestly look back on my religious upbringing as the basis for my morals even today.

    However, I still left. Not because I didn’t feel I belonged (I’m still in contact with some of the people in those churches, and I’ve never felt rejected by them for leaving), and not because I encountered agnostics and atheists (although I did realize I was an atheist over time), but because I simply did not believe. It took a LONG time for me to realize that I not only did not believe in the church, or in the bible, but I actually didn’t believe in god. This realization was in part prompted by reading the bible, but also just an honest assessment of my own beliefs, and lack of them.

    I know this isn’t comforting, but I never rejected the morals I was taught, and that I saw practiced around me when I was still attending church. I do see a lot of hypocrites all around, and I have to deal with them every day, but I realize that there are a lot of wonderful people who are living (or trying to live) their lives in a way that could be considered christ-like – even those who would be condemned to hell by the judeo-christo-islamic god.

    • Leah says:

      Hi Nikki. Thanks for your comment. However can I ask you not to refer to a ‘judeo-christo-islamic God. The God of the Muslims is not the God of the Jews or Christians. Just because they both share some historical figures (Jesus, Abraham etc) doesn’t mean they have the same understanding of God. They could not be more different. Judeo-christo God, sure. But not Islam. I don’t say this to bag out Muslims but I am just saying the God they worship is NOT the God of the Jews or Christians :)

  264. chelslynn says:

    I have to say that I sadly and whole heartedly agree with this post. As a twenty-something girl who has grown up in the church, and who is still trying to pursue Christ while heartedly, I am often discouraged by my generation’s disenchantment with Christ and His church.
    I really believe that my generation, and the generation following my own craves to be loved, to be accepted, and to be authentic. People ultimately want to be apart of something that is bigger than themselves, they want someone to believe in them. They want to feel a sense of community, to feel like they belong somewhere.
    While I am a fan of the skinnies and the pearl snaps (and let’s be honest, a good faux hawk…), they pale in comparison to someone who authentically loves Jesus and who displays to me that love. I want to belong, to be apart of something bigger than myself. I want to learn to love Jesus wholeheartedly while walking besides others who are learning to do the same.
    My prayer for the local church is that we shift our focus on Jesus. My hope is that as we learn to walk step by step with Him, we begin to gain His heart for His children. May we learn to ask Him how He would like us to represent Him. He knows what the next generation needs. May we take our eyes off the skinnies and place our gaze on Jesus.

    • marc5solas says:

      Well stated. I do want to say that I have no issues with style. I see the young, cool guys in the office wearing skinnies and pearl-snaps. That’s awesome. It’s who they are. If I did it in order to be “relevant” to them? Absurd.

      This is a cool example of how the gospel crosses demographics and style:

  265. allison says:

    Reblogged this on surrender and commented:
    This is spot on.

  266. Leah says:

    Articles like this continue to highlight, to me, the significant differences between the American and Australian churches.

    I went to university, work at a university, go to a church with a high university-student population and live in a city with a relatively high student population. I can guarantee you right now that a majority of students in my city – in Australia even – were not raised in any church at all, let alone an evangelical one. In the US it is more culturally acceptable – even required in some areas, by my understanding – to attend church even if you don’t believe it. Not so in Australia. How many of these young people leaving the church have parents with a genuine faith? (Although I don’t doubt there are young people leaving the church whose families are also genuine christians, and I see that here in Australia too).

    As for most of the other points, I think they really depend on the type of church you go to. My church has consciously not run its Sunday School during the church service specifically so children learn to be in church. We’ve recently got a new minister who likes to have Sunday School during the sermon, so we will shift to that model, but that’s only for primary school. The teenagers are still in church. Their ministry is on Friday nights and doesn’t replace church. This is something I see in most churches in my city. It’s common for primary school (elementary/early middle school in the US) students to leave church for their ministry but not teenagers. Also the church my husband was raised in is very much one of those “God will make your life so good and you will be so happy if you follow God” churches. Mine was not at all. I don’t think anybody left my youth group under the impression life as a Christian is easy or that you will always be happy. It was always stressed to us that there is a difference between having joy in God and being ‘happy’. My husband’s church was also one of those that is very concerned with being relevant. You know – big stage, band, 45yo pastor who dresses like a 30yo and avoids the difficult/unpopular parts of scripture like the plague. Church could be confused for a pop concert, etc. My church was the opposite. Probably a little too determined NOT to try and be hip and cool (although it is doing much better than it was 15 years ago!)

    To me – from observing how my own friends acted, coming through our teenage years in an Australian evangelical church – the two most important things in keeping young people in the church are a) having both parents with a genuine faith and b) having a good small-group/discipleship-based youth ministry that teaches the bible. Those that I saw leave the church were missing one or the other. I’m not saying that’s a fool-proof combination. Just that in my observation, the friends I saw leave were those who did not attend a good, bible-based, relationship-based youth group OR who had one or more parents who did not have a genuine faith.

  267. David says:

    As one of the “kids” from the headline of your article, I must inject a thought of my own.

    I can understand the course of thought in most of what you’re saying, but personally take offense to number 8.

    You say in the beginning of #8 “they got smart”, but then go on to say “some atheist or agnostic TREATED them LIKE they were smart.”

    I was raised in a Baptist church in small-town Texas where I played in the band, taught Jr. High boys Sunday school, and participated any time the doors were open.

    When I left for college (at age 27) I had already begun to struggle with the rationale of the Christian faith. This was partly due to our having studied several other faiths like Mormons and Muslims.

    Once I was removed from the bubble I was raised in, I had multiple experiences that made me question why I believed what I did. I met several homosexuals who were kind, descent people. I met people who were Intelligent, kind, generous, and at the same time godless. I learned about how the story of Christ had been repeated and rehashed by multiple cultures and religions (some before the time of Christ like the Egyptian god Horus). And I thought to myself “this warrants discussion.”

    However, I found no Christian willing to listen and talk. All I got was the same old tired talking points I had been hearing my entire life. In the years and months that followed, I examined my former views of the world against new information as it came to light. After some time of research, deliberation, and reflection, I felt that ANY and ALL religions were a stretch for reality, and more likely than not a useful tool to control the mind and actions of people. It’s either all or nothing when it comes to dogma and faith. There’s no room for interpretation, modification, and justification. Only obedience. Wholly and fully.

    So, I wasn’t just “treated like I was smart”….I actually am pretty smart and have found my own path to peace, understanding, and ultimately accepting that my life is happy, sad, good, and bad. And I no longer needed the crutch of religion to lean on or externalize my problems or successes.

    If religion is good for you (and harms no one in the process) then good for you. But don’t dare tell me that I was somehow duped by “the world” for not cleaving to a 2,000 year old story. That’s just disrespectful. Give me credit for examining my faith and making an informed decision.

    • marc5solas says:


      I wanted to respond to this as I felt you misunderstood my wording and the trajectory took you far past what I would agree with.

      “I can understand the course of thought in most of what you’re saying, but personally take offense to number 8.

      You say in the beginning of #8 “they got smart”, but then go on to say “some atheist or agnostic TREATED them LIKE they were smart.”

      We all do become more educated when we leave home. Whether that be “street wise” as we begin to take on some of our own responsibilities or through higher education. My point is that while the church has often dumbed down our worldview, the college freshman is treated seriously and given the “A” Team of other worldview. To be more specific, if your christian worldview was from Joel Osteen and the agnostic or atheistic worldview was presented from the works of Hitchens, the playing field is far from level. In that regard, we have failed our youth in not preparing them adequately.

      “Once I was removed from the bubble I was raised in, I had multiple experiences that made me question why I believed what I did. I met several homosexuals who were kind, descent people. I met people who were Intelligent, kind, generous, and at the same time godless.”

      I’m sorry you were ever presented with the view that homosexuals were unkind or horrible people, or that “godless” people weren’t often intelligent, kind, or generous. I certainly don’t believe that. I do, however, believe that those people who may well be kinder, more intelligent, and generous than ME are still falling short of the measuring bar of “Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as your self.” Just as I fall short, as do you.

      “I learned about how the story of Christ had been repeated and rehashed by multiple cultures and religions (some before the time of Christ like the Egyptian god Horus). And I thought to myself “this warrants discussion.”

      This tells me a great deal about your source material. I find this argument quite a bit. Have you actually read the story of Horus?
      Even if you do not believe that Christ was an actual man who was actually born, actually and historically suffered under Pontius Pilot.. even if you see Him as an archetype, do you feel it could be pointed to from the story of Horus?

      (the quick version of the story of Horus is that his father, Osiris, the green (not as in environmentally responsible, as in he was actually GREEN) god of the underworld was killed by his jealous brother (Set). Horus’ mother was grieved and found the dismembered body of Osiris, and re-assembled him. He was missing his “male member” so she fashioned one out of gold, briefly resurrected her dead husband, had sexual intercourse with him before he died again and conceived Horus.) Are these even remotely, REMOTELY similar? (I’m guessing you heard the “Horus” line from someone like Bill Maher?)

      Listen, there are scholarly and intellectual challenges to the Christian worldview which must be dealt with. This isn’t one of them.

      “However, I found no Christian willing to listen and talk. All I got was the same old tired talking points I had been hearing my entire life. In the years and months that followed, I examined my former views of the world against new information as it came to light. After some time of research, delib