The number of committed Christians in America has declined by half over the last decade according to a survey, and the loss of young people remains a huge factor.
According to The Barna Group, in 2009 half of Americans were considered practicing Christians meaning they identify as Christian, agree strongly that faith is very important in their lives, and have attended church within the past month.
According to the Christian polling firm, that number is 25 percent in 2020.
Barna president Dave Kinnaman says the church is not doing a good job at keeping its young people.
“We find that 64 percent of young people,” he says, “who grow up as Christian, or have had some sort of Christian experience, will walk away – either from the faith or from the church.”
Children will start mentally checking out at age 12 or 13. When they start making their own decisions, they stay away longer than their parents might have.
If they do come back, they are less connected to the faith.
“They would have made so much of their life apart from the church,” he observes. “That's a big challenge of trying to rebuild the connections from the church to those young people.”
The good news, according to Kinnaman, is that there is a way to recapture young believers, although it's not an easy fix.
“Make sure that that we're not just sort of packaging a Christianity for them,” he advises, “that we don't just make Jesus an interesting brand, like some celebrity they might follow.”
Those young people must know that Jesus is a real and relevant part of their lives, that they can rely on the authority of Scripture, and they are connected to a church that loves and supports them.