This Article is filed under the Culture Archive and explains the heart and root cause for the founding of Nicene International Ministries.
By: Steven Martins
It’s a common trend nowadays to hear from pastors and ministry leaders about the increased absentee rate of young adults and teenagers in church pews. South of the border, the term “graduation evacuation” has developed to refer to the mass exodus of teenagers leaving the church upon entering post-secondary education. Canada is no different, and despite statistics favoring the evangelical church compared to other Christian branches (i.e. Catholicism, Anglicanism, etc.), the trend is still the same.
In 1971, a survey was conducted across Canada which detailed the religious demographics of the nation. At the time, only 1% of the Canadian population identified as “non-religious.” Given the growing influence of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, that number increased to 23% after two generations. Although these statistics included other religious faiths, it didn’t seem to be much of an issue. That is until we came across the findings of a 2002 study of teenagers and young adults. It was reported that 66% of 15-29 year-olds regarded religion as unimportant. That number jumped to 78% of teenagers and young adults in 2009, demonstrating a steep decline in religious interest.
Some have said that religion may altogether be facing an uphill battle, but that’s not quite true. What we have instead seen is an exchange of religion, from theism in its various forms, to humanism. It is, however, humanism that disguises itself as a neutral and irreligious worldview, a belief system centered on man himself as opposed to anything outside of man. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, secularization is an on-going process in our modern society, and it has had a negative effect on the church and culture these past decades.
If we were to turn the calendar forward a couple of years and find that our church pews were nearly empty, it will be because the church had failed to respond to its surrounding cultural challenges and neglected the needs of teenagers and young adults, who are inevitably the leaders of tomorrow. It’s an issue worthy of attention, and it communicates that something isn’t being done right by the Church.
In a conversation with a prominent youth speaker State-side, his response to this issue was an attempt to “empower students” by developing “student-led ministry.” Intellectual, theological and cultural issues were of non-importance, so long as youth had a task at hand to fulfill, such as leading youth groups, participating in food banks, fulfilling assignments, amongst other things. In essence, the primary importance was to give youth something to do, to keep them busy and have them lead something or someone; that would resolve the issue. Unfortunately, despite the sincerity behind this initiative, it falls short of resolving the issue of the youth exodus. Given my own personal experience and hearing what other teenagers had to say, here then are three predominant reasons why millennials are leaving the church…