Church drop-outs

Ed Stetzer blogged: “there is no statistical difference that the dropout rate among those who attended college than those that did not attend college.”  Stetzer adds that 70% of all people from the ages of 18-22 stop attending church, though 35% of them return. So, the dilemma isn’t due to religion-hating faculty.

Since Vanda is now a full-time librarian (thanks for all the fb prayers and congrats), we’ve resurrected talk of me getting a master’s degree.  It has been a desire of mine for many years, but the cost and time consumption of church planting has prevented it.  The cost may still be too high, but the dream is still alive!  When I was younger I worked hard to excel in classes that interested me.  Those that didn’t click with me got a cursory effort, enough to get a respectable grade.  However, I eagerly look forward to educational opportunities as an adult.  The further along in the educational process I go, the more I can choose classes that really interest me.  But, that’s not all about schooling that is enhanced by age.

When I was young I had to take what teachers said as truth.  Even as an undergrad (the first time, when I was still in the 18-22 group), I had little life experience to bounce my learning off of to evaluate it’s truth. After a couple of major-changes, and nearly enough classes for a doctorate, my undergraduate degree in Christians Education was awarded to me in April, 2007.  I was 36, and had gotten more for my money than I could have at 22 because my life experience offered instant feedback on the teaching.  If what I’m being taught is true, than it has to make sense in real life. If it doesn’t, I get bored with it because of it’s not true and therefore irrelevant.

What if the 70% who drop out of church had more opportunity to ask questions about Jesus and the Bible instead of just being lectured on it once a week? I was in a rather large Sunday School class as an adult where the doctrinal beliefs of the teacher were well-known, but I wouldn’t raise my hand to ask a question.  Earlier somebody had made a point that contrasted slightly with the teacher, and the teacher responded in a loud voice, making it clear to everyone in the room (and the rooms around us) of the absurdity of the question.  The teacher had intellectual superiority and so there was no room for debate.

People leave Jesus because there is little or no opportunity to evaluate the Good News with real life.  That’s why I dream of having a church that meets around coffee tables where I can teach the Bible and allow for discussion around tables about it.  It’s a place where it’s okay to disagree because that is how we really learn – by testing the theories of faith against the backdrop of our own realities.

So, those in opposition to Jesus can’t lay claim as the cause of the collegiate portion of the 70% who drop out of church, but what affect do they have on those who go to college without knowing about Jesus? It’s easy to impress anti-faith agenda on people who don’t see a proper representation of the alternative.  We need to be accountable for those young people too.  I just finished a book by Philip Yancey called What Good Is God?  Three pages from the end of the book he wrote: “Jesus himself rarely offered theological proofs, he simply went around transforming lives.” He did that by teaching truth that can only be solidified in real life.


2 thoughts on “Church drop-outs

  1. It’s true. We hear many telling the church how to live and what to do but few transparently sharing their personal failings, struggles and sins to those hungry souls. If it isn’t working in my day to day life, it isn’t working, and if I’m called to share the gospel I’m called to willingly lay my own life bare for the world to see…and anyone who pretends not to sin or struggle is lying…hense the obvious contradiction with many “church leaders” and “spiritual giants” who want to point fingers rather than confessing sins. When I first began writing the immaturity of knowing the bible apart from humbly confessing my inability to live it often times came across as spiritual pride and arrogant finger pointing. By God’s grace, I hope to become more and more transparent and honest about how the scriptures challenge and slay me in my foolish worldliness. That can only be accomplished in real relationships and true-life investments, not mega events and new-age programs. What’s true is not new and what’s new is not true. Good observations.

  2. Dave,
    Great question.

    “It’s a place where it’s okay to disagree because that is how we really learn – by testing the theories of faith against the backdrop of our own realities.”

    God’s love is what we are called to overcome evil with. (Romans12:21)

    I just watched a live stream of Ravi Zacharius at Clemson University.
    Near the end he commented that he,” wished the questions had been more hostile ,because it makes it all the more worth while.”
    If you are familiar with R.Z. he wields the gospel sword of God’s love like a samurai !
    A wonderful closing statement also caps it off.

    Keep challenging people to bring it on, and yourself to meet them with the most powerful agent of change that exists.
    God’s love through Jesus Christ.
    Because He first loved us,

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