Fewer Young Adults Attend Church

A majority of young adults, age 18 to 29, don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible according to LifeWay Christian Resources:

65% identify themselves as Christian, while 14% say they are atheist or agnostic, 14% list no religious preference, and 8% claim other religions.
65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
65% rarely or never attend worship services.
67% don’t read the Bible or sacred texts.
72% say they’re “really more spiritual than religious.”
Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes — half say no.

“We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

The recently released survey was based on telephone interviews in August 2009 with 1,200 18-to-29-year-olds. The study forms the basis for the upcoming book, The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, by Dr. Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer. (Source: http://www.lifeway.com/article/170233/)

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  1. Thanks for reposting this article, brother. How are you upping the question of “what it means to be part of a church” that Rainer asks?


    Phil Henry

  2. Honestly, by asking a lot of questions of our people re: what the church is, and what it means to be in God’s covenant community. Most people in Atlanta have a weak ecclesiology, and a low view of the church beyond showing up on Sunday, and even that is high commitment in their minds. We challenge our group with biblical evidence of what the church is, a rich, deeply relational, Spirit-led community on God’s mission. This is important, especially in the south when church has been relegated to a building, and God has no mission but to serve my needs. By keeping the gospel, and mission of God consistently in front of them; and the burden bearing, familial, confrontational nature of true community in front of them, I feel like we are starting to make some headway in Renovations church community.

  3. Great thoughts. I don’t think it’s just a problem in Atlanta. I think the way you’ve described it is accurate: “Most people…have a weak ecclesiology…”

    Irony: people who believe themselves to have a high commitment to worship, even God-centered worship, and to theology, may in fact be children in their Christian maturity, and especially in the area of biblical ecclesiology.

    I also appreciate your description: “familial, burden bearing, confrontational nature of true community.” It isn’t all just fun and games. Confrontation is necessary, which raises the issue of authority as well.

    Restoring a biblical ecclesiology means restoring a biblical doctrine of authority. I think a lot of missional movements are weak in this area.

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