A friend shared with me this article from Christianity Today, Drew Dyck, “The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church” (November 19, 2010), which has the tagline More than in previous generations, 20- and 30- somethings are abandoning the faith. Why? The title to this post derives from the large number of young people who grew up Christian, but now check “none” on surveys related to religion.
This article was very familiar to me. Yes, there are some differences between Mormons and more mainstream Christians, but the article seemed to me to be describing equally well a phenomenon that we Mormons are experiencing as well. Our young people go off to college or leave home for work, and they promptly drop out of the Church. This seems to be happening at accelerated rates compared to the past, and the old assumption that many will eventually come back when they start families of their own seems to be holding less than it used to. In short, we’re losing our young people at an alarming rate.
When I taught youth Sunday School a few years ago, I could see the seeds for this phenomenon being planted in our young people. The kids I taught were extremely jaded, they had just had it with church, and they were biding their time until they were out of the familial home and could easily disengage from involvement in the Church. They were all but lost already.
Some questions about this:
- Do you agree that our young people are leaving the Church in droves, at a far greater rate than in the past?
- In what ways is our problem the same as that of more mainstream Christians generally, and in what ways is our experience distinctive to our tradition?
- Can we Mormons and other Christians learn from each other in dealing with this phenomenon? If so, in what ways?
- Why is this happening? What are the forces that are driving our young people from the faith?
- What can we do about it?
In general, I’m interested in your thoughts on the phenomenon of our young people losing their faith and leaving the Church.