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Why Do Young People Leave the Church?

Recently someone I know asked for some reasons why young people leave the church. Initially I wasn’t going to answer because I thought that those type of questions often bring one sided responses from young people, responses that only show them as victims. However, I decided that the question was important and merited serious considerations. I hope to present here four reasons why I think that young people leave the church.

It is not comprehensive because I can’t presume to know all the reasons. This is a reflection on why black youths in the Seventh-day Adventist church leaves.

1. Not Interested

One of the reasons that is usually ignored by young people when they are asked to state their opinion on this question is that some of the young people that leave are simply not interested in the God of the Bible and the lifestyle that He is calling them to lead. This is one of the most neglected reasons. Some young people are simply not interested in church. Nobody chased them out, they just prefer the lifestyle that non-religious people are living.

2. Frustration with how the Church Function

A second reason is that some young people didn’t like how a particular church functioned and so they started going around visiting other churches. They never found what they were looking for. It wasn’t their intention to leave but eventually that’s what they ended up doing. They lost interest after a prolonged period of instability. It is important to note that not everyone who leaves the church made a conscious decision to stop going. Most of the time people leave after slowly moving away from fundamental spiritual practices–prayer, Bible study, etc.

3. Bad Reputation

A third reason is because of the shame or ill reputation that some of them gain from bad actions. Some young people commit mistakes, others live a lifestyle that is contrary to the practices of the faith they claim. I emphasize the difference because some young people really try to do what’s right, but since they are imperfect they make mistakes–I’m using mistake here to indicate that they are not living a lifestyle contrary to scripture, they just slipped. Some of these mistakes can be very bad. Others are just on the membership listing of the church but can careless about what God wants.

In either case what usually happens is that once something goes wrong then they are viewed as “children of darkness.” Of course once you are classified as such it’s hard to make a comeback. The pressure of being classified as spiritually worthless drives some of them away. They don’t feel as if there is a place for them in the congregation.

4. They Crave Relationship

A fourth reason young people leave the church is because of the church’s emphasis on “right doing” over “relationship.” These young people feel as if the members of the church don’t care about knowing them but care about judging their actions. They feel as if they are under a microscope all the time and nobody cares about the real them, so they decided that they had enough.

Your Turn

What are some other reasons why you think young people leave the church? How can we resolve these problems?


Jerry Jacques is an accounting student in New York. He blogs at The Rhetor.

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