I listened to a sermon by Dwight Nelson (Pioneer Memorial Church) recently that should cause great concern for those of us in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. He sited stats from Roger Dudley’s study of Adventist teenagers (15-16 year-olds) Why Our Teenager Leave the Church? Here are some of the numbers:
A conservative analysis of the data reveals that between 40-50% of young adults are dropping out of the church.
Of the approximately 50% who do remain, only 55% attend church regularly, 45% return a tithe, 34% attend Sabbath School, and 21% hold some type of church office.
Moreover, only 13% read the Bible daily and 30% weekly, while 36% rarely or never do.
“Many are finding a good experience in the church, love it dearly, and are deeply committed to it. But as we have seen, 40 percent to 50 percent of those who are baptized members in their mid-teens will drop out of the church by the time they are halfway through their 20s. This is a hemorrhage of epic proportions.” (60, emphasis supplied)
“The church can have no higher priority than stemming the loss of young adults and winning back those who have left its ranks.” Roger Dudley, Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church
“Many teenagers and young adults are leaving the church because they perceive it to be behavior-centered when they are looking for relationships…’without [new] effort we will never retain our youth. They will not continue to struggle in a contest they cannot possibly win.'” Roger Dudley, Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church
Pretty significant study one I think has implications for our adult ministries as well. Not only do young people see our church as being behavior-oriented many adults do also. Our challenge is to move away from the hyper-religious, behavior-centered model of how we do church to a gospel-centered, community of faith. Then the back door will be closed to both the young and the not so young. Your thoughts…