By Aaron Earls
Those who stop attending church when they become a young adult have a vastly different perspective on their former fellow church members than those who continue attending.
According to a Lifeway Research study, 66% of those who attended church for at least one year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 to 22.
Those who leave church have significantly different perspectives than those who continue to attend when asked their thoughts on church members prior to turning 18.
When asked what their opinion of church members was before they became adults, church dropouts are more likely to say those in church are:
Half of church dropouts (49%) describe those in church as judgmental. Around a quarter of those that continue attending church (26%) shared that opinion.
Disapproving of those that don’t meet their expectations
More than 2 in 5 of those that stopped attending church (42%) say church members disapprove of people based on expectations. Only 23% of those who stayed in church agree.
Before leaving, a similar number of church dropouts (41%) had the impression that church members were hypocritical. Almost half as many of those who continued to attend (21%) say the same.
Church dropouts are more likely than those who remained in churches to look back at church members growing up and see them as separated into cliques (41% to 27%).
For 37% of those who left church when they became an adult, they look back on church members and see them as insincere. That’s only the case for 21% of those that stick around.
Not only are church dropouts more likely to use those four negative concepts to describe their previous congregation, they are less likely to use any of these five positive ideas when thinking about church members.
While more than 3 in 5 of those who stayed in church beyond their teenage years (65%) describe church members as welcoming, only 37% of those who left do the same.
Authentic or real
For 60% of young adults that continued to attend church, those in the congregation were authentic or real. But for those that dropped out, only 32% say the same.
A similar percentage of young adult who never stopped going to church (59%) look back and say members were caring. Among those that dropped out, 33% agree.
More than half of those who stayed in church (52%) say church members were forgiving. For those that left, 29% have the same impression.
Inspirational (like role models)
Fewer than half of those who never left church (43%) have this opinion about church members growing up, but that’s still more than twice as many church dropouts (20%).
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.