The question of why youth leaving the Church has long circulated in the minds of youth leaders. In addition to the weakness of our denomination, the Free Methodist with the leadership of women. We have a challenge that lacks young leadership.
Why do young people leave the Church?
The study was published by St. Mary’s Press and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate of Georgetown University (CARA) under the title of “Going, Going, Gone! The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics.” The dynamics of disaffiliation in young Catholics. 74% of the 214 ex-Catholics interviewed said that they had left the Church between the ages of 10 and 20.
Transcendental questions from children
“We have heard that young people begin to have important doubts and questions very soon, between the ages of 10 and 11, some even younger,” said John Vitek, one of the main authors of the study. Vitek, president, and director of St. Mary’s Press (www.smp.org), has told the CNA that this may be surprising to many adults “because many of these young people explained to us that they had never discussed these questions with their parents or priests.”
Reasons to quit
CARA researchers have identified specific patterns among the participants’ statements and have found three archetypes among them:
– the “wounded,”
– the “left.”
– and the “dissidents.”
The “wounded” are those young people who lived through some tragedy or difficult time in which God seemed to be absent.
The “left behind” are those who had trouble connecting their religious beliefs with their actual experiences in the world. They ended up wondering what it was like to be Catholic or not, and finally, they left the Church. The researchers warned that the influence of the family environment was one of the main reasons for the “left behind” to leave the Church. Little by little, they abandon their religious customs and become worldly.
Finally, it is in the “dissidents” that the researchers found a more active rejection of the Church. These young people explained that disagreements on controversial issues such as same-sex marriages or contraceptive methods precipitated their abandonment.
Based on the responses of young adults, Kinnaman’s book presents six causes that motivated them to disconnect from the Church and the consequences of them.
1) The Church is overprotective. The young generation has creativity and desires for cultural commitment, to innovate and to start new paths. Still, the Church sees a rejection of the original and a fright at the risks of becoming involved in today’s culture.
2) The Church is felt as superfial, as boring and proclaiming vagueness, instead of communicating the importance and strength of following Christ. In this context, young people cannot connect their faith with their qualities and passions.
3) The Church is shown as unscientific. While young people appreciate the role of science in the world they live in, the Church poses questions to science and skepticism. Thus, young people cannot find compatibility between faith and science.
4) Sometimes the Church represses. Young people feel that religious rules stifle their individuality, particularly in sexual matters. This creates profound challenges to the development of young people’s faith.
5) The Church maintains positions of exclusion for certain groups, while the youth has a culture that appreciates the openness of mind, tolerance, and acceptance. This causes both exclusion and whoever maintains it to be rejected.
6) The church is reluctant to doubt, while young people need a place to express their doubts. They are not satisfied with trivial answers.
Finally, the itineraries that the young generation travels present a challenge to the established Church, but they can also give reasons for hope for the faith community, offering ideas for pastors, youth leaders, parents and educators to help young people to find themselves involved in a total search for Christ.
Stay at church
The Church is not there to entertain young people, nor should we be so concerned with offering them “a better alternative.” That has become, what I have called, competing with the world.
Many leaders think that if there is something outside that attracts many young people; then we have to offer something equal or better. An obvious example is that of music.
If tomorrow a secular group comes out with a different rhythm and style of music, one of those that “hits,” it seems to me a pity that almost immediately, Christian singers come out copying that style of music that is becoming fashionable.
I want to clarify that I am not against music. I love all the rhythms and flavors. But I am presenting an example of how the Church reacts and enters into competition with the world.
Young people like to enjoy themselves. Hanging out with friends, playing soccer, going to the movies, listening to music, but also, they like to be heard. They like to feel that someone cares about us, to want to know that they are valued and unique.
How many of these young people, who party all the time, have cried because no one understands them, who listens to them, who values them? How many of them have had to resort to drugs or alcohol, because they have not found anyone they can trust and talk about the abuse they received in their homes?
In these moments, they face two options: 1- Seek the relief and forgetfulness in the vice (whatever it may be) or 2- Seek a Christian leader or friend to help them get ahead.
The love and support they receive have kept him in church.
We must demonstrate that they are essential to us and that we desire their well-being. The Bible says that we must love and express that love as Christ did for us.
No matter how many activities you do, you will never be able to keep these young people in the church, unless you also care about giving them attention.
Simply that attracting young people is not enough. We want to keep them in church, and this is only accomplished by showing love and concern.
David Kinnaman, You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith, 1973- Aly Hawkins, 2011. pp, 256