Why are people leaving the church?

There are lots of anecdotal experiences and theories tossed around, but what does the data say?

Nathan Daniel Blake summarizes the six top reasons the Barna Group has found:

  1. Overprotectiveness and Defensiveness
  2. Shallow Faith Experiences
  3. Antagonism Toward Science and Reason
  4. Simplistic Views of Sexuality
  5. Spiritual Exclusivity
  6. Unfriendliness to Doubters

He then lists the main subpoints in each category:

1. Churches Are Overprotective and Defensive

25% of 18-29 year olds cited the demonizing of “the world,” ignoring real-world problems, & obsession with culture.

2. Experience of a “shallow” faith.

31% said church was boring. 25% said church wasn’t relevant to real life, and 20% said God seemed to be missing from church.

3. Antagonism toward science and reason.

35% said Christians are too confident they have an answer to everything. 29% they are out-of-step with scientific discovery. 25% said we are anti-science.

4. Experiences with sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental.

A majority cited trying to wrestle with meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality.

Nearly 20% said they feel judged for their sexual mistakes. 40% said teachings on sexuality are out of date.

5. They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Churches.

29% said church feels afraid of the beliefs of other faiths. Another 29% said they felt forced to choose between faith & friendships. 22% said that church felt like an exclusive spiritual country club.

6. Church feels unfriendly to the doubter.

36% cite not feeling like they can ask their most pressing questions in church. 23% said they had significant intellectual doubts, and 18% said the church doesn’t take emotional problems seriously enough.

Have you seen these issues in your community?

Let’s talk about them…