Recent and irrefutable statistics are forcing us to face the truth. Respected pollster George Barna was one of the first to put numbers to the epidemic. Based on interviews with 22,000 adults and over 2,000 teenagers in 25 separate surveys, Barna unquestionably quantified the seriousness of the situation: six out of ten 20-somethings who were involved in a church during their teen years are already gone.11 Despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most 20-somethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years – and often beyond that. Consider these findings:
• Nearly 50% of teens in the United States regularly attend church-related services or activities.
• More than three-quarters talk about their faith with their friends.
• Three out of five teens attend at least one youth group meeting at a church during a typical three-month period.
• One-third of teenagers participate in Christian clubs at school.12
That’s all well and good, but do these numbers stand the test of time? Is the involvement of churched children and teens continuing into young adulthood? Unfortunately not. Not even close. The Barna research is showing that religious activity in the teen years does not translate into spiritual commitment as individuals move into their 20s and 30s (and our own research, you are about to discover, will illuminate you with reasons as to why this occurs).
Most of them are pulling away from church, are spending less time alone studying their Bibles, are giving very little financially to Christian causes, are ceasing to volunteer for church activities, and are turning their backs on Christian media such as magazines, radio, and television. What does this look like numerically for today’s 20-somethings?
• 61% of today’s young adults who were regular church attendees are now “spiritually disengaged.” They are not actively attending church, praying, or reading their Bibles.
• 20% of those who were spiritually active during high school are maintaining a similar level of commitment.
• 19% of teens were never reached by the Christian community, and they are still disconnected from the Church or any other Christian activities. — Ham, Ken (2009). Already Gone (Kindle Locations 202-220). Master Books. Kindle Edition.