Young Evangelicals are Leaving the Church in Droves

Image result for image of young people leaving a church

Biola University (evangelical Christian institution):

Losses. The data show that compared to the 1970s, evangelicals now have two to three times the loss rate among young adults raised in their churches. Over the past 30 years, American Christianity has experienced substantial decline, especially, but not exclusively, among younger Americans. Those born after 1980 (millennials) are one- third less likely than their grandparents to be evangelical Christians.

The role of intellectual doubts. Research by the NGP and Barna Group have identified “doubts” as one of the primary reasons that millennials raised as Christians disconnect from Christianity. David Kinnaman has concluded that “unexpressed doubt is one of the most powerful destroyers of faith.” In three independent studies, NGP researchers found that doubts were associated with greater risk of leaving Christianity and with poorer spiritual health. Those with more doubts felt distant from God, prayed less frequently and attended church less frequently. The impact of doubts fully accounted for the higher drift- away rates among younger Americans, and doubt had a stronger impact on overall spiritual health than any other of several hundred factors examined.

(emphasis, Gary’s)

To read the entire article, click here.


Gary:  Doubt has always been a problem for Christianity.  Remember “doubting Thomas”?  So why after 2,000 years is doubt now such a major issue?  Why are young people leaving “the fold” in such record numbers? I believe that the answer can be summed up in two words:  the Internet.

Never before has so much information been so readily accessible to the average person as today.  With the click of a mouse one can look at the pro and con arguments for any issue…including the arguments supporting your supernatural belief system (religion). In the past, if someone wanted to check out the criticisms of one’s religion, you had to go to a lot of effort to find them.  You would need to go to a library or bookstore.  You would need to do a search in the card catalog for publications discussing the issue of religious skepticism, atheism, or other such topics.  If you lived in a small or medium-sized town, you might have had to have gone to a special library in a larger city or ordered books by mail to obtain this information.  The entire process would have taken weeks or even months. Therefore, you would have had to have been really curious and really determined to access this information.  Today the same information is available to you in literally seconds while sitting at your breakfast table sipping your morning coffee.

Think about it:  One third of all young evangelicals are leaving Christianity.  If that trend continues in subsequent generations, how many evangelical Christians will be left in the United States in 100 years???  And notice the advice given for how Christian pastors, parents, and educators should address this problem:  Expose young people to Christian apologetics.  But are Christian young people encouraged to read both the pro and the con arguments for their religious beliefs?  Nothing in this article explicitly gives that advice.  But isn’t that the advice most educated American parents would give to their children regarding any other issue in life?

“Research the issue, Son/Daughter.  Study the arguments both in favor and against the issue.  Be informed.  Then, once you have evaluated both sides of the argument, make an informed decision on where you stand.”

Sadly, most Christian pastors, parents and educators do not encourage their young people to study, in depth, the arguments of “the other side”.  If keeping their young people in the Church at all costs is their goal, then maybe this is the correct strategy.  But I believe that it is still a losing strategy.  Sooner or later, most young people are going to “google” some issue related to their religious beliefs.  And speaking from experience, that one internet search could be the beginning of the end of his or her “faith”.

I say:  EVERYONE should study the evidence for supernatural claims, in particular the supernatural claims of religion, pro and con, and let the chips fall where they may!

27 thoughts on “Young Evangelicals are Leaving the Church in Droves

    1. That’s great, Liam.

      I tell my own children: As you grow up, I don’t want you to accept my beliefs as fact just because I am your father. I want you to investigate the evidence and decide for yourself. If you want to believe in God, go ahead. That’s fine with me. Just know why you believe in God and be ready to give evidence to back up your position.


    1. I haven’t looked that up, but I will. Do you have an article you can reference?

      Here is the conclusion to the Biola article:

      “Apologetics is of the utmost importance. These three findings highlight the wisdom of the Apostle Peter when he commanded followers of Christ to “be prepared always to give an answer” (1 Pet. 3:15). The findings also make a strong case for the critical importance of apologetics for the church in the current generation. Doubts are everywhere. Almost all of us have them. And when not properly addressed, they can be spiritually disastrous. By contrast, faithfully answering questions and providing strong evidence for the truth of the Christian faith can have dramatic positive effects on the spiritual lives of others, especially our young people.”


      1. I think that reading the Bible leads one to leave the churches here on earth, not God. It is the hypocrisy of the Modern Church that drives away younger people. Stick with scripture, not the Christian religion made of man……


        1. Hi Greg! Welcome.

          That is great that you can see that many Churches today are hypocritical. Why do you feel that the Bible is more worthy of “sticking to”?


    2. Here is the story of another young evangelical (the daughter of evangelical apologist Matt Slick) who deconverted:

      Below her deconversion story, someone left this very profound comment:

      “For all his brainwashing efforts, Slick made the mistake of teaching his daughter to think critically and honestly. Look what happened. This is why religion fights broad education, fights critical thinking, fights internal reflection. Teach those skills to somebody intelligent, and odds are they will lose their religion.”


      1. From the article, “I must believe in Christianity because it is the Truth, and if it is ever proven otherwise, I must forsake it no matter how much it hurts.”
        Yes! Forsaking religions that prove to be untrue is wise.


        1. I would expand that and say: “Forsaking any belief system that proves to be untrue is wise.”

          I would encourage everyone to base your beliefs on evidence alone. Avoid believing things based on feelings/emotions/intuition/political philosophy. Be willing to admit when you are wrong on a particular issue and be willing to abandon your position if the preponderance of the evidence suggests it is wrong. A wise man can admit when he is wrong. A fool refuses to recognize and learn from his mistakes.


    3. Well, it definitely worked for me. By the time I finished Judges, it became extremely difficult to reconcile what I was reading with the concept of a loving, just and merciful God. And by the time I finished the Book of Job, it was nigh impossible. That’s why I heartily encourage Christians to read the Old Testament in sequence from beginning to end. 🙂


  1. Why are young evangelicals are Leaving the Church in Droves?

    Because they reckon William Lane Craig, Mike Licona and Gary Habermas are really weird and a bit creepy and the final nail, a True Believer recommended they read John Branyan’s blog?


  2. Many progressives and non-supernaturalists are very demoralized living under the administration of Donald Trump, a president who was elected due to near solid evangelical Christian support. Take heart in the above statistics, my friends! Evangelical Christianity cannot retain its political and social power if they are losing so many of their young people. Eventually their numbers will be too small a percentage of the population to have any significant influence. Let us all “pray” for that day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d caution against making blanket statments about the impetus behind the Trump win. My extremely devout mother despsises the man. And based on this exit poll, it appears the key policy issues for Republican voters were:

      – illegal immigration
      – terrorism
      – the negative effects of foreign trade policies
      – the nation’s economy
      – disastisfavtion with the nation’s direction
      – extreme dissatisfaction with how the federal government operates
      – a sever distrust/dislike towards Hillary Clinton

      Note that in answer to “Most important candidate quality”, Republicans anwered overwhelmingly:
      Can bring needed change (83%)

      And in answer to “Best description of vote”, the Democratic/Republican votes were:

      I strongly favor my candidate: 53% / 43%
      I like my candidate but with reservations: 48% /49%
      I dislike the other candidates: 39% / 51%

      So, in light of the above, I’m inclined to argue the Trump vote was more a vote against establishment politics — and Hillary Clinton in particular — than it was in favor of Donald Trump or Christian values.


      1. The over-riding issue for many evangelicals is still abortion. They will not vote for anyone who supports it. So if there are two candidates for president, and one favors abortion, the overwhelming majority of evangelicals will vote for the other candidate who does not support abortion, even if that candidate is Satan himself.


            1. Agreed; which counters the contention that the overwhelming majority of evangelicals will vote for the other candidate who does not support abortion, even if that candidate is Satan himself.


              1. Yes … and no. There are many hardcore fundamentalists that put moral and ethical preferences over and above anything else. That slim percentage that gave Jones the win was an anomaly for a state like Alabama, which is highly religious AND adamantly against abortion. Had there not been “other issues” involved, there is little doubt he would have lost.


                1. Nan, of course they place moral and ethical preferences over and above all else. Don’t you? (You don’t have to answer this, but consider how you would vote in a two-party race if you’re preferred candidate is confronted with similar allegations. Would you still vote for that person? Abstain? Or vote for the opposing candidate who doesn’t support your political ideals?)

                  And those fundamentalists, along with a smaller number of non-fundamentalist and non-religious voters, view abortion as murder — a moral issue they deem significantly more important than all others. Undoubtedly, a fair number of hardcore religious voters held their noses and voted for the Moore because he opposes abortion. However, a small but statistically significant enough number stayed home or voted against their preferred candidate allowing Jones to win.


              2. Take a look at the Washington Post’s exit polling for the recent Alabama special election:


                Key results: Evangelicals/Born-again Christians represented 44% of the electorate: 80% of them voted for Roy Moore, a man accused of pedophilia.
                Of the remaining 56% of the electorate (non-evangelicals), 76% voted for Jones.

                A pedophile is about as close to Satan as is humanly possible, yet evangelicals in Alabama voted in mass for him. Why? Answer: He is opposed to abortion and gay rights.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. And from USA Today:

                  “Alabama evangelicals admire Roy Moore and not only for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, which houses the state Supreme Court. Moore has been a dogged champion of greater religious freedom for evangelicals. He is a staunch opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage and talks of privileging Christianity as the country’s preeminent religion — all positions favored by conservative evangelicals around the country.”



                2. Alleged pedophile (I still subscribe to due process).

                  And as I responded to Nan, evangelicals who voted for Moore (even if they believed the allegations to be true) view abortion as murder and considered it the greater of the two evils.


                  1. True.

                    As a former evangelical, I can tell you their thinking: “If Moore did commit these immoral crimes, he is not doing them now and Jesus has forgiven him. But which is more evil: Electing a man who committed terrible sins in the past or putting a liberal Democrat into office who will vote for the continued legalization and possibly the expansion of the murder (abortion) of thousands of babies each year?

                    Liked by 1 person

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