Already Gone, Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it, by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer is a short, powerful book. It lays out the findings of surveys the authors conducted with young adults, age 20 to 29, who don’t currently attend church but who did attend conservative evangelical churches as children. The common thought today is that anywhere from 75% to 90% of kids walk away from their faith in the first year of college. What Ham and Beemer found among other things was:
- 90% of young adults who don’t attend church had already “left” the church by high school.
- 61% of the study subjects said they attended Sunday school on a regular basis as a child. 39% said they did not.
- 40.8% of the study subjects who attended Sunday school as a child believe premarital sex is wrong. Surprisingly, 47.7% of those who did not attend Sunday school said premarital sex was wrong.
- Compared to the 39% who did not go to Sunday school, the research showed that those who regularly attended Sunday school are actually:
- - More likely not to believe all accounts in the Bible
- - More likely to defend premarital sex
- - More likely to accept gay marriage
- - More likely to accept that abortion should be legal
- - Much more likely to believe God used evolution to change one kind of animal to another
- - Much more likely to question the Bible because they believe the earth is not less than 10,000 years old
- - More likely to view the Church as hypocritical
- - Much more likely to have become anti-church through the years
- - More likely to believe good people don’t need to go to church
- 88% of those who doubt the accuracy of the Bible began to doubt in elementary, middle and high school. Relatively few, 11%, began to doubt in college. This throws into question the idea that college causes youth to doubt the Bible.
Ham and Beemer also found that the study group was about evenly split between attending church on Easter and Christmas and not attending at all. Of the half that does attend on Easter and Christmas, most expect to become regular attendees in the future when they have kids. Their challenge is not with the relevancy of Scripture or of God. Rather, they find that church is no longer relevant.
When did the Church become irrelevant? The authors point out, “…the Church gave up the earthly things (e.g., the biological, anthropological, astronomical, geological history as recorded in Genesis 1-11) and focused on heavenly things (spiritual matters, relationships, the gospel). When it came to science the Church gave in to human notions.”
The most important conclusion the authors reach is that the church needs to 1) Stand on the Word of God as it is written and 2) God’s people need live by the Word of God. The 20-somethings who are not in church desire good teaching. They desire the church to be relevant and stand on the Word of God and for its flock to live the Word of God.
I recommend at a minimum all pastors, Sunday school teachers and church leaders read this short book. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but we need to be able to recognize if our churches have wandered from standing on God’s Word. We also need to ask ourselves, are we truly living the Word of God?
May God be Glorified.