How can we prevent young people “bleeding” away from their faith and the church?
If you are a visual thinker, it may not be so pleasant for you when I use the term “hemorrhaging”. But when it comes to “hemorrhaging faith”, picture this: Thousands of young people walking away from the church and leaving their faith behind. The Hemorrhaging Faith sociological study was created to investigate why young people who have been raised in the church decide to either continue in their faith, or leave the church.
“Our ceiling should be their floor.”
The study has proven that about 60% of individuals who were involved with their local church during their childhood, now struggle in finding a place where they feel they belong. The survey illustrates that this relates mostly to individuals who are from Catholic congregations, rather than Evangelical. It is has also been suggested that modeling the parents’ own spiritual walk affects the child's perspective on spirituality. For example, if the parents have changed their regular church attendance, it is during this shift that the child’s spirituality is turned as well.
There are four categories that describe spiritual types among youth,“engagers”, “fence sitters”, “wanderers”, and “rejecters”. Research has also found that the faith of young people began to drop during the transition from elementary school to high school. It is suggested that this is because of the strong influence of peer pressure.
Each spiritual type has been categorized based on the individual's reaction and response to church:
Engagers refer to those who are active in church and open to God.
Fence Sitters describe those who have Christian affiliations, yet they are not officially part of a church. Some fence sitters choose to resist church, while others are drawn in.
Wanderers are individuals who have removed themselves entirely from spiritually, and identify themselves as atheist, and agnostic.
Rejectors have left the church due to a personal scarring experience and call themselves atheists.
The transition from elementary school to high school is a journey of discovery as the child begins to explore who they are as an individual. During this time of transition, adolescents shape their beliefs based on how they perceive their environment. Therefore, I believe we need to be aware of their vulnerability in this time. The question to ask ourselves is: How can we affirm their faith?
“We have the privilege and opportunity as co-workers with God to shape and breathe life into the hearts of the youth around us.”
Our own relationship, journey and passion for God can be a tool in leading youth to continue seeking first His heart in pursuit of His kingdom. We have the privilege and opportunity as co-workers with God to shape and breathe life into the hearts of the youth around us. Our ceiling should be their floor. So, who can you encourage today?
Let’s embrace our youth’s gifts and talents. We can help maximize their potential by allowing them to use their gifts within the church. In doing so, they are likely to feel accepted, appreciated and affirmed, and therefore, stay in an environment where there is a sense of belonging.
How can you mentor, value, and encourage the youth in your home church? Leave a comment below and let us know your ideas and experiences of how we can empower our youth in the church today.
The youth form the church of tomorrow. Let’s stop the youth hemorrhaging from the church today.