Protestants down to 52% from 60%..Hike........

Young adults aren’t sticking with church

USA today

Just over half (51%) of Protestant young people surveyed (both the church dropouts and those who stayed on in church after age 22) saw church members as “caring” or had other positive descriptions, such as “welcoming” (48%) or “authentic” (42%).

Among dropouts, nearly all (97%) cited life changes, such as a move. Most (58%) were unhappy with the people or pastor at church. More than half (52%) had religious, ethical or political reasons for quitting.

I found that the issues such as authenticity not being the most relevant was interesting…Welcoming garnering a greater percentage…what’s up with that?

Huh, interesting! I found the part where it says

“70% of Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23”

I’m not sure what the Catholic youth “dropout” rate is, but I’ve noticed in my dioceses youth group, the “people in charge” are always trying to mimic what the main-line protestant groups are doing to attract the youth: hard rock during church and pizza parties with games after! Oi!

You have to admit, the protestants are good at attracting the youth, but if they can’t keep them, then what’s the point?! We need to start treating the youth like adults, giving them legitimate responsibility, and the resources to grow spiritually. Doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, you just can’t make it ALL fun and games.

For starters, Id say community service programs to teach them a little bit of discipline and self control; and most importantly, self-worth. Nothing better than the hard work that goes into climbing a mountain, eh?!


Maybe some white shirts, ties, bicycle helmets and some bicycles would be a good idea too…:slight_smile:

Dunno. What’s up with this??

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" Luke 6:41

As someone who works as a student leader in an on campus religious group, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am constantly struggling with people who think that we need to have that happy slappy Christian experience and not cover solid, Catholicism.

Sorry, my knees are too shot! :wink:

Maybe skateboards! Now those are the “cool” thing, eh?!

This is bad news because those who leave Protestantism don’t all become Catholics. Better to be Protestant than non-Christian. Rather, one bitten twice shy could apply here. If Protestantism is false some people will leave Christianity all together.

I’ve posted this in the Family section before, and I’ll say it again here.

A very wise (Protestant) pastor, the father of three sons, told me something once that I have never forgotten. He said that almost ALL children and teenagers do not have a real faith of their own; they only imitate their parents’ faith (or lack of faith). Even if they are super-religious, reading the Bible, praying, going to church, going to youth group, volunteering at soup kitchenes, serving on short term missionary trips–it’s still not their own faith…yet.

As they grow up, many of these young people fall away from church and religion because it never was their faith, it was their parents’ faith, and once they are away from their parents, the faith is gone, too.

It is vital that everyone has a “conversion” or whatever you want to call it, when they actually make an adult decision to trust and obey Jesus. Many of us have made this decision. Almost every serious adult Catholic that I know has a testimony of a time in their lives when Christianity all made sense and they made a mature decision to follow Christ and submit to the Catholic Church (Christ’s Church).

For many Catholics (and I would say Protestants, too), this adult decision comes when children are born. People are willing to go without any religion as long as there are no little ones, but they want their children to have the experience of church and all the rich rituals and traditions (and yes, even though they are different, most Protestant churches have some kind of rituals and traditions; e.g., many churches have a Rally Day or Founder’s Day. e.g., many churches have a Praise and Worship time–yes, this is a ritual!)

Some people get upset when I make these statements, because they swear that THEIR teenager is very religious and that their faith is definitely real.

They also point out that many of the saints were teenagers when they came to faith and when they died.

So of course there are exceptions. I’m sure there are teenagers who have a real, personal faith in Jesus.

But I think it’s important for every parent to realize that more than likely, their wonderful faith-filled teenager is actually just mimicking them, which is kinda neat. But the real test will come when the teenager leaves home. We need to pray for our older children!

As for reaching out to teenagers with music, pizza, etc.–c’mon, y’all, it doesn’t hurt! Many teenagers, even those from lovely families, have the need to “break away” from the parents and become independent adults. These “youth groups” give them a place to go to be away from their parents for a while, but in a good way.

Also, many youth groups get involved with various service projects in the Church, and this is very important to helping a teenager come to a point where they make an adult commitment to Christ and His Church–service holds them accountable; people are counting on them to fulfil their task. They have a “place” in the Church–that’s what keeps a lot of teenagers going to Church after they graduate because they know that they have a unique place, purpose, or “niche” in that parish.

As long as teenagers in the parish are not “required” to attend the youth group, I don’t know what the problem is. Different strokes for different folks. Let the teens who love this kind of group go and God bless them. And let the teens who really hate “youth groups” stay away, and God bless them, too.

I had an awesome youth group growing up, and many of the teens that were in that youth group grew up to be faith-filled. They are still active in churches all over the world today. What’s sad is that now that we are older, we are starting to meet up with each other again–at funerals. :frowning:

It’s true that many young people are falling away from the faith, but it is a lot less difficult to prevent that than most people believe. My church that I went to before college made a few changes to the youth program and the percent of students that fell away dropped to almost zero. As it turns out, most young people just want some more personal attention and mentoring than they usually get in traditional church environments.

Also, since being at college, I’ve had several of my friends tell me that their return to church was because me and one other guy have challenged them personally, asking the hard questions and not being shy about the importance of our faith.

That’s just my two cents, though, based purely on personal experience.


Did you not notice that this is Catholic Answers. Did you not know that this is one of the few places where Catholics can air their thoughts without being told that they are with the whore of Babylon, members of an Apostate Church, a cult…and so on…although on occasion that does happen…

This is the place where logs and specks are are wood and the eyes can be unshielded from the scales…

I assume you find this posting distasteful…I can understand that.:slight_smile:

in the faith community I converted from (episcopal) confirmation is like graduation from church. don’t come back until they are married with children…if they have them.

From what I’ve observed many Protestant churches help to reinforce the teenage culture. By teenage culture I mean a culture separate and distinct from the parents that is rebellious of authority. Examples from the Protestant world would be different music (contemporary vs. traditional) or having a ‘Youth Sunday’ that is a completely different format than normal - which suggests most Sunday services are not for youth. Doing this should have a very predictable result of driving young adults away. I agree with your general idea of integrating youth into the church culture and not keeping them as a completely distinct group.

I should add I think the modern teenager is an unnatural thing. In the old days you were given much greater responsibility much earlier. I think we keep treating people as children for far too long. Most Americans are children into their early to mid twenties.

I’ve noticed the same thing; folks return when they have kids. I think some folks do so for less than great reasons. They think they have no obligation to God but that religion makes for better behaved kids. But I’m sure there are many who are transformed and throw off some of the selfishness, or just self focus, that is easy to slip into in single life and married life without kids.

When I went off to college I stopped going to church and church had been a huge and positive part of my life. There are many reasons for this. But one thing I thought about was the lack of personal connection the church had to me as a college student and after college. I have often thought that a dedicated program to keep up with kids at college in a personal way would be fairly easy but very rewarding for the young adults and the church.

It doesn’t seem to me that this is particularly a Protestant or Catholic issue, since all denominations in the U.S. are in serious membership decline unless you are a Mormon, and Jehovah’s Witness or a certain type of Pentecostal. That is to say nothing about church attendance, which is simultaneously in decline.

In that sense the article in the OP is a little misleading; people of ALL ages are leaving organized Christianity. But perhaps the article is also helpful in beginning to understand what the U.S. church of the future will look like: see Europe. And their cathedrals at least still draw tourists; not many of ours will.

Overall, the Church appears to be growing, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

Most US Catholic church growth has relied on immigration to the U.S. from predominantly Catholic countries, as of course is strongly implied in the CARA study. As immigration has slowed, US Catholic membership has begun to decline:

Protestant and Catholic churches have been suffering from loss of youth, and why should there be any joy over defection of Protestant youth? In this particular area, in fact, ex-Catholics seem to be more numerous than ex-Protestants. Evangelical and mainline Protestant churches seem full of former Catholics. The parish I know best - a large parish -received three new communicants this year - one cradle Catholic who had never been confirmed, one former Protestant who had married a devout Catholic woman, one raised without any religion who also is married to a Catholic.

  The problem is that both Catholic and mainline Protestant churches have been losing out. The Catholic total has remained roughly constant nationwide because nine out of ten Christian immigrants to the USA are Catholics, overwhelmingly Latinos. The evangelicals are reporting great success in converting Mexicans and others from Latin America. Time will tell. The warped 'prosperity gospel' seems to attract many, together with dynamic preaching and aggressive evangelism. 

  A pattern that is common among Catholics and mainline Protestants goes like this. Children are confirmed, begin to lose interest, go off to college and really lose interest. They may be married in the Church (many are not), then return to Church for baptisms, but seldom become fully active in the Church. They become cultural and/or cafteria Catholics, largely because of family or ethnic influences. 

  Two groups profit from all this. The evangelicals plus a couple groups like Mormons. The other are those who become unaffiliated altogether. Some become atheist or agnostic. Many simply find the Church irrelevant or have been turned off by scandal or what they view as corruption and/or superstition.

Since the meat of the article is about the impact of Parish consolidation and not overall growth, it is poorly titled and introduced…

trying to put lipstick on a pig.

problems doen’t get solved by hiding them.

It’s interesting studying the generation of my great grandparents (late 19th, early 20 century). Boys as young as 15 were expected to be working, taking on responsibility. My GGF was already an apprenticed blacksmith by 19. Boys WANTED to be men, they couldn’t wait until they reached a certain age and were already acting as such before then.
I don’t see that today. I would even go further than you and say many Americans stay children into thier thirties.
Churches feed into this with things like “junior church” or competing youth ministries.
Years ago I knew a black pastor whose church was in one of the worst neighborhoods in town. One day he got tired of seeing the boys in baggy pants and the girls wearing next to nothing, both talking trash. He started a youth group he described as “teaching boys how to be young men, and the girls to be young ladies” in how they dressed and talked, everything. No music, no fun and games until they went through his classes.
Been a long time, so I don’t know how successful he was, but they should clone pastors like that.

This data maintains that the top Church remains the OHCAC…

Top 25 U.S. churches reported in the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches:

The Catholic Church 68,202,492, ranked 1 [ranked 1 in 2011], down 0.44 percent.

Southern Baptist Convention 16,136,044, ranked 2 [ranked 2 in 2011], down 0.15 percent.

The United Methodist Church 7,679,850, ranked 3 [ranked 3 in 2011], down 1.22 percent.

No, tarboy, the “meat” of the study is about the changing nature of Catholic parishes. There are two things going on here: (1) parishes are being consolidated as a result of the decline of religious vocations (i.e., priests), and (2) the population of US Catholics is growing.

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