Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and it seems like everyone is trying to figure out why.
Last week, Christian Piatt offered seven reasons here, and four more reasons here. David Kinnaman recently authored a book entitled, You Lost Me, which details the findings of Barna researchers who interviewed hundreds of 18-29 year-olds about why they left the church.
I left the church when I was twenty-seven. I am now thirty, and after trying unsuccessfully to start a house church, my husband and I are struggling to find a faith community in which we feel we belong. I’ve been reluctant to write about this search in the past, but it seems like such a common experience, I think it’s time to open up, especially now that I’ve had some time to process. But let’s begin with fifteen reasons why I left:
1. I left the church because I’m better at planning Bible studies than baby showers...but they only wanted me to plan baby showers.
2. I left the church because when we talked about sin, we mostly talked about sex.
3. I left the church because my questions were seen as liabilities.
4. I left the church because sometimes it felt like a cult, or a country club, and I wasn’t sure which was worse.
5. I left the church because I believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that humans share a common ancestor with apes, which I was told was incompatible with my faith.
6. I left the church because sometimes I doubt, and church can be the worst place to doubt.
7. I left the church because I didn’t want to be anyone’s “project.”
8. I left the church because it was often assumed that everyone in the congregation voted for Republicans.
9. I left the church because I felt like I was the only one troubled by stories of violence and misogyny and genocide found in the Bible, and I was tired of people telling me not to worry about it because “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
10. I left the church because of my own selfishness and pride.
11. I left the church because I knew I would never see a woman behind the pulpit, at least not in the congregation in which I grew up.
12. I left the church because I wanted to help people in my community without feeling pressure to convert them to Christianity.
13. I left the church because I had learned more from Oprah about addressing poverty and injustice than I had learned from 25 years of Sunday school.
14. I left the church because there are days when I’m not sure I believe in God, and no one told me that “dark nights of the soul” can be part of the faith experience.
15. I left the church because one day, they put signs out in the church lawn that said “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman: Vote Yes on Prop 1,” and I knew the moment I saw them that I never wanted to come back.
“I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals.” – Evolving in Monkey Town, p. 207
“We aren’t looking for a faith that provides all the answers; we’re looking for one in which we are free to ask the questions.” – Evolving in Monkey Town, p. 204
In the weeks to come, I'll be sharing more about why I stayed with the Church--with a capital-C-- and about our search for a local faith community.
Follow up: 15 Reasons I Stayed With the Church
Why did you leave the church?
Why do you stay?