The book Essential Church, by Thom S. Rainer and his son, presents recent research that indicates that more than two-thirds of church-going young adults drop out between the ages of 18 and 22. The research was done by Lifeway Christian Resources.
Here are the top 10 reasons:
- Simply wanted a break from church.
- Church members seemed judgmental and hypocritical.
- Moved to college or university and stopped attending church.
- Work responsibilities prevented me from attending.
- Moved to far from the church to continue attending.
- Became too busy though still wanted to attend.
- Didn't feel connected to the people in my church.
- Disagreed with the church's stance on political or social issues.
- Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.
- Was only going to church to please others.
As a result, they no longer saw church as "essential" to their life.
One-third of young adults do stay in the church. Why? Because they see their church as essential to their lives. According to Rainer's research an essential church has four major components:
- They have learned to simplify. They have a clear purpose and a clear process for making disciples. They get their structure right.
- They move church members to deepen their knowledge of God and his truth. They get the content right.
- They have high expectations of church members. This results in high commitment. They get their attitude right.
- They are committed to helping their members multiply spiritually. Evangelism, mission, and ministry are part of the heart-beat of the church. They get the action right.
Is your church an essential church? If so, be thankful. If not, what steps could you take to help change it?