In the Christian community, there is a great deal of concern that young people, particularly young adults in their twenties and thirties are leaving “the church.” While this is not a new trend, by any means, it has certainly given many Pastors cause for concern. Some seek solutions to the “problem” by changing worship formats from traditional to contemporary. It may be too early to tell, but I have the feeling the hole in the dam will take more than a patch here and there to stem the torrent.
Here’s my take: Do whatever the church leadership advises, throw out the hymnals and “sing off the wall,” eliminate the church choir and stimulate the congregants with exciting music of praise teams, make all aspects of the worship experience entertaining for everyone from the youngest to the oldest, then de-emphasize sin and accentuate praise. Do all these things or any combination of them or try something else altogether, if you like. But, none of this will stop the exodus.
It’s not like young people have just started leaving the church since the generational group of Millennials arrived or the Gen Xers before them, no it’s been happening at least as long as I can remember. As a young adult, I had problems remaining faithful in attending church on a regular basis, not because I was rebellious or because I rejected the programs of the church. No, there were then, as there are now, many things to distract one from faithfulness to the church.
Young adults marry, start families, seek to advance their careers, which are all good things, but in doing these, they often lose sight of the need to balance work, play, family, and church activities. They know what happens in church, but suddenly they’re hit with all things new to them, as they begin their life’s journey through child-rearing and work years. When there’s only so much time to do it all, some things fall by the wayside, and church attendance is among the first to be discarded.
The good news is the Bible plainly states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
If parents have done so, if church leaders and teachers do their jobs in helping with the spiritual training of our children and youth, regardless what happens with those who migrated away from the church, many will return, and it’s probably a lot many more than most people think.
Any church of any denomination that revamps its programs and activities to focus greater energies on a particular age group does a disservice to the rest of its members and may be setting up itself for failure.
I don’t have a seminary degree; neither do I have a degree in psychology, though I may be a qualified observer of human nature. Churches are wasting a lot of energy trying to stop human nature, and if churches expect to be around for the long haul, they best stick with the tried and true, the things that are known to work. It's okay to experiment with new forms of worship and service, but caution is needed before making wholesale changes.
Besides evangelizing the lost, the highest calling of a church should be to educate its youth and leave the rest in God’s hands, for the child that is trained in the way he should go, will not ̶ even when he is old ̶ depart from it.