Why do youth leave the church?

A movie released not too long ago – November of 2010 – opened some eyes and ruffled some feathers about why so many youth are ill-equipped to defend their faith, or worse: stick with it.  The movie is called Divided, and it seems to put the responsibility for this mass teen exodus from the Church square on the shoulders of, well, all of us. But in particular the way we do youth ministries in our churches.  Now we know that there are some excellent youth programs out there, and those who lead them are doing a great job. But the film does ask tough questions of the rest:  Could there be a problem with how our youth leaders are running the Wednesday night show?  What about parents? Society? The teens themselves?  Says the film maker, Philip Leclerc:

We believe that the mass exodus of youth is the result of disobedience. Apostasy always follows disobedience. There is a long list of things that we believe has caused the youth crisis including the preaching of a false gospel, of homes out of order, of churches out of order, of hypocritical parents, of a famine of the preaching of the Word of God in churches and of unbelief. All of these have contributed to the mass exodus of youth.

The whole point of Divided is that the Bible can be trusted for the way we disciple youth. Our message is that God has spoken clearly about the discipleship of youth, but the modern church has set aside Scripture, has ceased to do what Scripture prescribes, and instead has done something that is foreign to Scripture and actually contradicts it.  The age segregated world that now dominates modern church life is only one of the may effects of rejecting the Lord and the authority of His Word. It is one problem that stands among many others. However, we believe this is a critical issue because the gospel is not being preached to youth in the way that God has prescribed. We have sidestepped His methods and preferred our own.  While the only explicit kind of worship, discipleship, celebration, and instruction in the Bible is either in the family or is age integrated in the church, we have chosen the opposite.

But Leclerc doesn’t just look at the problem; he offers a solution. See for yourself and let us know your thoughts.


(HT to Michael at A Twisted Crown of Thorns)

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3 Responses to Why do youth leave the church?

  1. Larry says:

    Where is the Scripture on this matter of falling away? Is it the great apostasy? Is it a failing church organization, a tire old wine skin that has been discovered for the lifeless shell it is? Is it naughty kids who want to get their freak on? Or is it all of the above?


  2. Mr Davis says:

    To me it is evidence of the unregenerate church. Regarding the youth, they are not falling away from the faith how can they fall away from that which they never had. They have been taught a system established by men and held up by men and is contrary to the whole counsel of God.

    Why is the so called church teaching contrary to the Bible because the world is contrary to the Bible? Because it is not the Bride. The bride knows and listens for the masters voice, she longs for it even if it is hard to bear. She will not be long fooled by a stranger though his words are smooth and his demeanor charming.

    The so called church speaks as the world speaks and does what the world does. If it doesn't teach the Bible then it doesn't need to follow it in deed, does it? So it does what is good in its own wisdom because they think they are something, even wise.

    So the saying is proved true:

    Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh ; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer ; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.


  3. Sam Wood says:

    If you listen to the youth who actually leave like I do as a college campus minister, it is clear there is a HUGE problem. It's causes are complex, intertwining and a synergy of deception, disobedience and vice, with both the youth of our age and we, their mentors. To try and reduce this to any one cause fails to see the forest for the trees. Of course, from our perspective, they are disobedient and rebellious, they have had poor modeling, and they see Christianity as irrelevant to their generation, if relevance is defined as cooperation with or having continuity with the current cultural trends. In my estimation, they have NOT had an encounter with the REAL Jesus, without which, there is no reason to call oneself a Christian–it is merely a form of religion without the power. But can you blame them when the body of what is called Christian is an amalgam of competing, contrary and even contradictory doctrines and teachings? I do not blame them.

    We can burn time pontification how terrible the spiritual life of the youth are, but I fear it ends up as we Pharisees are ever so thankful that we are not like these youth are today. And when so doing, the REAL problem within Protestant Evangelicalism and a cultural Roman Catholicism is NEVER addressed…the continuous contradictions in doctrines and dogmas. I say this as a Roman Catholic not that the Roman Catholic Church itself in its official teachings has contradictions. It does not. What is contradicting is the various brands of doctrines that float around in a milquetoast cultural Catholicism (which is no Catholicism at all), doctrines that are taught as Catholic when in fact, nothing more than cheap forms of classic heresies rehashed and repackaged. We see Arianism in those false believers who believe that Jesus was a good man and ought to be imitated, but are not convinced of His deity. We see Pelagians EVERYWHERE who hold to the idea that we have innate goodness–we just need to act good and we'll earn our spot in heaven. We've seen two Catholics vividly illustrate this as they duked it out on national TV. You saw a laughing, smiling and obnoxious 60's relativist who deems his opinion as Catholic though his views of abortion are diametrically opposed to Church teaching. You saw a Neocon Randian syncretist whose boilerplate "conservative" views actualy polarizes the problems in our nation is the result of "Makers" catering to "Takers." Both men are flawed in their apprehension of reality, in essence what the Catholic Church actually teaches. It's deplorable. And we wonder why the youth of our day are confused and tired of the contradictions and hypocrisy? Their faith formation has been malformed…and we wonder why?

    Young people grow weary of the constant inconstancies in Christian world of which they find abhorrent. How can they know something of any credibility and integrity when there are various strains of what is Christian? From their vantage point, it is left up to the individual believer to decide what is true…and act which occurs daily among Protestants who move to different denominations or cultural Catholics who pick and choose what they want to believe. To the youth, this implies that there is no integrity in the Christian message–it's left to personal choice. And if it's left to personal choice and opinion, they will follow our lead and make their own choice! And, they will openly challenge the credibility of the Christian message when they see the bickering, fighting and disagreements of WHO Jesus is and WHAT He means by what He says. By making an appeal to Scripture Alone will. not. stop. the. exodus.

    In fact, since the advent of Sola Scriptura, religious relativism has splintered and fractured the Christian community into an atomized group of self-interpreting prophets. Have you seen the latest number of denominations in the world? 30,000 or more if you count independent churches who "affiliate" with themselves? The Devil couldn't be more happy with the results.

    Though Sola Scriptura has been fostered by a desire for knowing the pure truth of revelation, the unintended consequence, however, is the promotion and even safeguarding of human autonomy in determining what is true. The unexpected result of this viral idea has created the religious pluralism and rampant relativism we now suffer with today. Frankly and sadly, what we are witnessing before our very eyes the collapse of Protestantism Evangelicalism and a feel good cultural Catholicism. We hear the rasping gasps of their death throws. And if cultural Catholics continue to embrace private interpretation and fail to reject the deposit of faith, the Church closings and depletion of Catholic Christians will continue with the current pace.


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