Losing the young
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There was an article in the New York times earlier this month about concerns the conservative evangelical churches in the USA have because they are supposedly losing teenagers. One questionable extrapolation suggests that a mere 4% of American teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults.
It is far more likely that many of those who have doubts as teenagers manage to resolve those doubts and return to the faith.
But some people just extrapolate without understanding human nature.
“I’m looking at the data,” said Ron Luce, who organized the meetings and founded Teen Mania, a 20-year-old youth ministry, “and we’ve become post-Christian America, like post-Christian Europe. We’ve been working as hard as we know how to work everyone in youth ministry is working hard but we’re losing.”
I suggest that Luce does not understand the data; he does not understand teenagers, and, he does not understand how to minister to teenagers.
But let us suppose that there is an element of truth in the fears of these evangelicals. Let us hope that at least some of the young people who turn away from their version of Christianity do not return. Why would they be turning away?
- They find the claim that the bible is literal truth to be false. And the denominations they belong to have not laid the groundwork for the possibility of metaphorical truth
- They find the position of their church on morality to be at odds with their own sense of morality; this may relate to issues such as:
- equal rights and opportunity for women
- They see through gimmicks used to indoctrinate them such as Gospel Illusionists, Christian Rock, and Youth Ministries
- They object to being told what to think instead of being allowed to think for themselves.
- They see too much hypocrisy amongst those who claim to be following the faith.
There's probably more reasons. But ultimately they all boils down to the teenage years are when young people really begin to think for themselves, and when they have enough knowledge and experience to make intelligent decisions about many issues. And, intelligent decisions can run counter to the teachings of the more conservative elements of Christianity (or any other religion.)