Barna: 8 out of 10 young Christians can't apply their faith to everyday life

Pollsters look at the top six trends in faith for 2011

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Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt. Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36 percent) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23 percent). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background

said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18 percent).

How can we keep these kids engaged in church?

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And what about the five myths about why kids drop out of church?

Myth 1: Most people lose their faith when they leave high school. Reality: There has been considerable attention paid to the so-called loss of faith that happens between high school and early adulthood. Some have estimated this dropout in alarming terms, estimating that a large majority of young Christians will lose their faith. The reality is more nuanced. In general, there are three distinct patterns of loss: prodigals, nomads, and exiles.

One out of nine young people who grow up with a Christian background lose their faith in Christianity—a group described by the research team as prodigals. In essence, prodigals say they have lost their faith after being a Christian at some time in their past.

More commonly, young Christians wander away from the institutional church — a pattern the researchers labeled nomads. Roughly four out of ten young Christians fall into this category. They still call themselves Christians but they are far less active in church than they were during high school. Nomads have become 'lost’ to church participation.

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Related Topics: George Barna, Barna Group, Trends

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