Why do young adults leave church? That was the question thrown to us during a forum held yesterday in a church, one which I had no idea that I was attending until a few hours prior. The forum was attended by young adults from different churches, featuring three panelists whom shared different background. One a pastor, the other a pastor's daughter and another a writer. It was an interesting event, where the organizers said that they sought to understand better the reasons behind young adults leaving the church.
As I sat there listening to the reasons given out by the attendees whom attended the event, I can't help but felt that the overall reason that we wanted to uncover that night eluded us. Many theories were proposed, from the lack of leaders to the shifting priorities of young adults to the poor transition between youth ministry and young adult ministry, but somehow I felt that none of them encapsulated the overall reason, the underlying factor that links all the different reasons together.
We may leave church for different reasons, but surely there must be a common factor that underlies each of our decision to leave? An overarching theory?
I thought about all the reasons given, and thought about my own story. There was a period where I grew disillusioned with the church, where I hated the thought of going to church. For me it was because church became a place where I must act holy, where I felt that I was constantly judged. The entire experience became like a show to me, where all of us put up a mask to compare whom of us is the most "righteous" one. It felt fake to me, because it was no longer about loving each other. And so I drifted off. My experience in Psychology later propelled this process, and I ended up as a sort of person who left church.
Perhaps one reason I felt why some young adults leave church and why some don't is because for those who leave, church stopped being relevant in their lives for them. It may be due to many different reasons, be it changing priorities, shifting responsibilities and finding their new identities, but in a way, church became something that is of no relevance anymore in their life, which is why they leave. You can say that church and spirituality sort of took a second priority instead.
Of course, it's really hard to pinpoint an exact reason if you don't have a large enough population and the correct people to sample. In our case for example, the people who attended the forum were still very much Christians, so hence I was not sure how accurate were the views offered by them, since they have never really experienced the struggle of leaving church before. Maybe some did, I don't know, but at least that was what I felt.
But still it was a good effort, and because I need to work tomorrow and I'm feeling ridiculously sleepy now, I will leave a more deeper thought about the subject until the next time. Good nights.