It is common today to hear “experts” proclaiming the coming crisis facing the evangelical church, a crisis they tell us will be the result of Millennials leaving the church in search of an “authentic” faith elsewhere, a faith that upholds “their values.” We are told that unless the church abandons its “archaic” beliefs and begins to aligns its doctrines with the values of the postmodern culture, that it will inevitably loose the next generation. Tragically those advocating these changes seldom ask questions about the biblical foundation for the doctrinal changes they are advocating. And the new and unorthodox doctrines that we are told to embrace stand almost entirely on a foundation built from anecdotal evidence that, upon examination, seems to be crumbling. The study cited in the following article from the Gospel coalition is just one of a number of recent studies that demonstrate the frailty of the foundation on which these claims stand and it is time for the church to stop reacting, out of fear, to those who proclaim the church’s demise and instead trust that Christ is strong enough to protect a church that remains faithful to him.
Who is Really Leaving the Faith and Why?
by Andrew Hess
It’s likely you’ve heard the news: the sky is falling. Reports have been circulating for a while now that our churches are on the decline and it’s the young people who are to blame. Articles, blogs and even books have been written warning ministry leaders and parents alike, the Millennials are leaving our churches in droves of hundreds and thousands. Intrigued by the implications of a generation giving up on organized religion, we set out to understand who is leaving and why. And what we found was surprising. Many of the most significant and encouraging findings are largely being ignored, while the less accurate and discouraging ones are being emphasized. Focus on the Family talked to respected sociologists of religion and studied the best, nationally-representative studies and found the bad news is not as bad as you might have heard. Our new report, “Millennial Religious Participation and Retention” draws out some very important research for those who are raising and ministering to the next generation Pew Research recently found that 18% of young adults leaving their faith altogether and another 20% are switching from one faith to another. This latter cohort, while leaving individual churches, are not leaving their individual faith. They might be switching to a church across town or to one near their college campus. With more young adults switching than leaving, it’s odd very few are talking about those switching. In fact, many, we suspect, have been counting them along with those who are leaving. Also interesting is the huge difference between conservative, Bible-teaching churches and mainline Protestant churches. The General Social Survey, perhaps the most academically-trusted source for demographic data back through 1972, recently noted a 2.2% decline in mainline churches and a slight 0.6% increase among conservative churches (from 1991 to 2012).