Why Young People Are Leaving The Church

What does it mean to be a Christian these days? Does it mean adapting to the times and being more open to changes? Or does it mean sticking to the word of the bible steadfastly and literally? Well, it seems there is a strict divide between these two answers and a lot can be told about someone by which answer they choose. A lot such as their age, their philosophy (because everyone has one) and even their politics. I have reached this conclusion after much conversations with friends, family and strangers. The two paths that these two answers create, also serves as the reason why a lot of people, especially young people are leaving the church. 

You hear it heard a lot, “It is 20xx, you need to be, more enlightened”, ‘You need to be more tolerant” or “You’re not being open”. These sentences are repeated on a daily basis, usually from unbelievers towards believers because in terms of being open and being accepting a certain demographic of Christians just are not progressive enough. Or rather is it that they are not even attempting to be open. This is what is driving many young people out of the church. Many churches present themselves as caring, loving, a safe haven, a community but then from attending, many young people especially start to feel the opposite. They feel judgement, stares, gossip, unsafe and paranoid for being themselves. 

In speaking to a friend of mine, I came to understand that this struggle doesn’t only relate to just young people, as it is not only young people who are of a different sexuality than heterosexual, it is not only young people who are females, it is not only young males who are feminine and it is not only young people who drink or party. All of these are some reasons she listed out for why she left the church. She spoke to me about how excited she used to get when she used to go to church, the happiness that filled her due to the illusion of the church being a safe space. The bible said in Psalms 122 “I am glad when they say let us go to the house of the lord” and for a long time this bible verse was her experience. That was until she started to discover who she was and started to hear the hate that her church sometimes preached. Most of the time, this hate is very passive and unintentional but, it is very noticed. This hate found in comments like “homosexuals who are assaulted as children” or comments like “can the boys pick up the chairs and the girls serve the food” or her personal favourite the extensive quoting of scripture to confuse. 

It seems the illusion of the church to her began to wear off fast, and she just needed to find an escape to somewhere she can be safe. A community. She identifies as someone who is spiritual, she believes in a higher power but she doesn’t believe in the way the churches she has been to present this higher power. She believes in a loving God and a God that doesn’t make a mistake. She accepts herself and believes that God accepts her in every way that he has created her. It seems now until the two paths ways of what it means to be a Christian begins to narrow to a middle ground, the church will continue to create vagabonds. 

So, what does it mean to be a Christian? I believe it means to be loving, to follow the golden rule- ‘do as you will be done by’ Matthew 7:12, it means to be wise and filled with wisdom. It doesn’t just mean quoting bible verses and not being able to explain them, because that just goes again to reasons why young people are leaving the church. 

I’d be interested to find out what readers think about why young people are leaving the church and what it means to be a Christian. 

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