Friday, July 13, 2012

Which Religious Group Best Retains Their Youth?

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Working off data from a recent PEW Report, Dr. Mark Gray has done some follow up and found some interesting and concerning trends.

Gray's work is focused on social scientific studies relating to the Catholic Church, but look what he discovered.

Interestingly, atheists do not successfully pass their beliefs, or lack there of, along to their children. Only about 30% of kids who grow up in an atheist household remain so when they become adults. Apparently people are converted to atheism as adults, not as children.

This is the lowest retention of any group studied.

Of those raised in atheist households, 30% are now affiliated with a Protestant denomination, 10% are Catholic, 2% are Jewish, 1% are Mormon and 1% are Pagan.

Gray found that 38% of those who grew up with no particular religious faith or belief system remains that way into adult life.

Here's the "Retention Rate" for youth in all religious groups:

Hindus 84%

Jews 76%

Muslims 76%

Greek Orthodox 73%

Mormons 70%

Catholics 68%

Protestant churches don't do so well retaining their youth.

Baptists 60%

Lutheran 59%

Pentecostal 50%

A number of conclusions can be drawn from these findings, but think about this:

Regarding Protestants. Could it be that in our "rush to relevance" we are putting more emphasis on style than substance------trying to be cool more than trying to be biblically correct?

We are losing 1 of every 2 kids that grows up in our Protestant churches.

Other studies have shown that even when our kids sort of know what they believe, many have no idea why.

Are we so consumed with being culturally relevant, trying to "identify," that our kids are not even learning the most fundamental evangelical biblical truths, biblical values and principles, that they simply leave when it isn't fun anymore? Or when some other religion appears to be more cool?

You probably won't hear this discussed at church this Sunday, but it is something we better start thinking about. And taking constructive action.

I never knew Henrietta Mears personally, but during my years at First Assembly of God in North Hollywood, we had a close relationship with First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, or Hollywood Pres., as they were known, and I saw the direct results of someone who, in her time, felt it was important to educate the kids. And she did. The education classes grew from 450 people to 6500 under her leadership. She was considered by many to be the mother of modern Sunday School. Her many accomplishments are listed in the link above.

One thing stuck in the minds of many who had known her.

She often said regarding a local church or denomination, "Every church is one generation away from extinction."

I would add, our local churches are only as important as the message they communicate. When the Message is gone, the church is gone.

Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.