Why Young Adults "Drop Out" of Church

Statistics have shown that 7 out of 10 young adults who grew up in Church dropped out, or stopped attending by age 23.  Over a third of those (34%) had not returned, even partially, by age 30.  I first heard this statistic a year or so ago, and I have contemplated what it means ever since. 

The reasons given on research of "why they leave" are:


Wanted a break from church (27%), Found church members judgmental or hypocritical (26%), Moved to college (25%), Tied up with work (23%)

and more at USA Today ... 

All "surface" reasons if you ask me.  I had a realization the other day while spending time with a group of friends.  I know dozens of young adults who are serious Christians and even some who are in ministry in some form or another around the country who are not going to Church!  Essentially, they are taking a break from Church for one reason or another.  This does not mean they are taking a break from Christianity.  Many of them listen to Christian podcasts, socialize in community regularly with other Christians and as I mentioned, participate in ministry to others.  Here's some common themes I've seen from young adults I know who have "dropped out" of Church:

-They deeply understand the importance of Church.  They recognize their need for a local community of faith, but for one small reason or another are currently away from the practice of it.

-There are many much more serious Christians than we would think doing this.  For those of you who went to Bible College, think back to those days and recall all the students who slept in on Sundays because they went to chapel so much already during the week.

-There are seemingly small reasons for why many young adults are not currently at church.  Some of the most common are: pure laziness, overworking, lack of a ministry group focused on them (ie - Young Adult Ministries, beyond college ministries), lack of connection and accountability small groups would bring, moving away from home and home church and not trying hard enough to find a new one, feeling spiritually full without needing a local church ... and mainly, what I would say are the two main reasons ...
not having a way made for them by leadership.  Much spoken emphasis is put into saying "the door is open for you" to young adults, especially ministers, but very little actual practice of it.  And, probably the greatest reason, young adults are in a time of questioning.  They are away from home, away from rules and are learning to think and act for themselves.  THIS INVOLVES A NATURAL PROCESS OF REDEFINING VALUES themselves, including attending Church or not. 

What we can do as a Church is to:

1. Pray hard for them.

2. Connect with them on a relational level.

3. Kindly invite them to events, without being judgemental or rude.

4. Open doors for them to get young ministers involved - ask God for a vision for this (Prov. 29:18). 

5. Create focused groups/services just for them and make it a priority (practically do this by emphasizing their budget, staff, etc).

6. Rethink the way we are doing ministry ... for older people or all people?  What is our succession plan to the next generation?