I’m reading a book right now called Essential Church. The theme of the book centers around the study of churches which have managed to build a culture that provides key essential elements that help their members to thrive. Why is a book like this necessary? The opening chapters describe some major issues facing the American church today, including a mass exodus of the younger generation.
I quoted this statistic last Wednesday night in our opening week of “Talkin’ Church,” a six week teaching series we’re kicking the year off with at LPC. The goal of this unique mid-week adventure is to help us gear up for the vision and direction we feel God leading us in 2012.
Here is the stat:
For people who have attended church for at least 1 full year before they turn 18, 70% of them leave the church between the ages of 18 and 22. In an extensive survey of this group (that drops out of church life), here are the top 10 reasons cited for why they leave:
1) Simply wanted a break from church.
2) Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical.
3) Moved to college and stopped attending church.
4) Work responsibilities prevented me from attending.
5) Moved too far away from the church to continue attending.
6) Became too busy though still wanted to attend.
7) Didn’t feel connected to the people in the church.
8) Disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues.
9) Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.
10) Was only going to church to please others.
It is pretty apparent that for those who leave the church, one word they would not use to describe their experience is “essential.” These factors necessitate local church bodies not simply attempting to program better or employ new gimmicks, but actually aligning and unifying around an essential process where transformation occurs and community is strengthened. That process should be centered around the biblical mission of the church (making disciples), and be carried out within a church structure that is both biblical and practical.
There is a lot more to say, but I’ll leave the next chapter to “Talkin’ Church,” coming this Wednesday, beginning at 7pm sharp, at the LPC facility.