Survey Indicates Youth Falling Away from Christianity in School

imagesbannerscp_120x1201Reprinted by permission of the Christian Post

By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Jun. 29 2009 05:08 PM EDT

The Bible calls the Church “the Body of Christ.” Today, that body is bleeding profusely, says a Christian author and sought-out speaker.

“The next generation of believers is draining from the churches, and it causes me great personal and professional concern,” said Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis and a Young Earth creationist.

Hoping to shed light on what he believes is a monumental problem, Ham enlisted the services of America’s Research Group to study why young people were leaving. The results, published in Already Gone, will shake many churches to their very core, Ham states in the new book.

While previous surveys have shown that Christian students tend to quit church during their college years, the data collected by ARG found that most of them were already gone in middle school and high school.

According to ARG’s survey, 95 percent of 20- to 29-year-old evangelicals attended church regularly during their elementary and middle school years. Only 55 percent went to church during high school. And by college, only 11 percent were still attending church.

“They’re sitting in our churches right now … and they’re already gone,” Ham said during a “State of the Nation” address last week.

Delving deeper into some of the reasons for the exodus, the research group found that nearly 40 percent of the surveyed twentysomethings first had doubts about the Bible in middle school. Another 43.7 percent said they first doubted that all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are true during their high school years. Only around 10 percent said they first became doubtful about the Bible accounts during college.

Among those who said they do not believe all the biblical accounts are true, the top reasons they gave for doubting the scriptures were: “it was written by men” (24 percent), “it was not translated correctly” (18 percent), “the Bible contradicts itself” (15 percent), and “science shows the world is old” (14 percent).

In an even more alarming finding, attending Sunday school proved to be of no help in strengthening a young person’s faith. In fact, the survey revealed that Sunday school is actually more likely to be detrimental to the spiritual and moral health of children.

Recognizing that such data may not sit well with many Christians, Ham encouraged believers to consider the research before reacting.

He stressed, “We’re not advocating getting rid of Sunday schools.” Instead, we’re advocating a revolution of them, he added.

Sixty-one percent of the surveyed young adults said they attended Sunday school while 39 percent said they didn’t. When comparing the two groups, the survey revealed that those who attended Sunday school are actually more likely: not to believe that all the accounts and stories in the Bible are true, to doubt the Bible because it was written by men, to defend keeping abortion legal, to accept the legalization of gay marriage, to believe in evolution, and to believe that good people don’t need to go to church.

Part of the problem, Ham pointed out, is the curriculum. While Sunday school teachers teach “Bible stories,” children are left to learn biology, anthropology, geology, astronomy and other science courses at public schools.

By merely calling it Bible “stories,” churches end up communicating the biblical accounts as “fairytales” rather than history, Ham noted.

“To them, the Bible is not real,” he said. “In churches we’re teaching moral things, spiritual things, relationships, doctrine … [but] we’re not teaching those earthly things. We gave that up to the world.”

“Who said that’s not for the Church?” the Young Earth creationist asked, noting that the Bible deals with geology, biology and other sciences.

“We gave it up because we didn’t know how to deal with it and now we’re losing generations,” he said.

A display in the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A display in the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky (Credit: Wikimedia Commons) CLICK TO ENLARGE

Ham – whose Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., displays dinosaurs next to humans – finds many pastors and Sunday school teachers teaching what he believes are compromised positions, informing youths that they can believe in evolution and that the age of the earth is millions or billions of years, rather than 6,000 years, while still believing in Jesus.

But by being taught such views, students begin to question the first book of the Bible, particularly the creation account. Later they find themselves not trusting the entirety of the Bible and its authority.

“If we teach our children (or anyone) to take God’s Word as written concerning the Resurrection, the miracles of Jesus, and the account of Jonah and the great fish … but then tell them we don’t need to take Genesis as written but can reinterpret it on the basis of the world’s teaching about millions of years and evolution – we have unlocked a door,” Ham wrote in his book.

That door is the door to undermining biblical authority.

“When we undermine the word of God, the next generation undermines it more and more,” Ham said.

The foundation of biblical authority and God’s word is crumbling in America while human reasoning and man’s word is being held high.

There’s a spiritual problem in America, Ham said, and sadly it is Christians who have dropped the ball and allowed moral relativism and secular worldview to rise.

Churches have failed to raise the younger generation on the authority of God’s word and to teach them how to defend their faith or give answers to secular attacks, Ham said.

“We let them (secular humanists) take generations of our kids and give them a different foundation,” he lamented.

Christians have an epidemic on their hands and what they need now is a “complete renovation,” not a mere remodel, Ham stressed.

It’s time to call the Church back to the authority of the Word of God. And for the Young Earth creationist, that call begins with Genesis.

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12 Responses to “Survey Indicates Youth Falling Away from Christianity in School”

  1. Wow. Some good news at last.

  2. It's not the secularists that are driving kids out of church, but the strict,rigid, fundamemtalist church that is driving them out by insisting these kids believe in the literal interpretation of a 6000 year old earth.and if they don't , they are not Christians. Kids want to accept the New Testament and the idea that Jesus died for their sins, but thay dont want to accept the mean-spirited, vengeful, jealous God of the Old Testament and His 6000 year old creation.Give them a little breathing room and you'll keep them. Condemn them and they will leave.

  3. There are very few of those “strict, rigid, fundamentalist churches” still around to drive kids out. And it's actually the watered-down liberal ones who substitute the “wisdom” the world offers that are bleeding members so badly. Young people still have a lot of learning to do, but there's one thing a lot of them are pretty good at: detecting BS.

    Perhaps better than most adults, they can see that these liberal churches try to keep the touchy-feely's of church while adhering to no sensible doctrine, no foundational truths, and no logical way of living. On one hand these churches claim to revere the Bible…but then treat the Bible like Aesop's Fables…and expect kids to have any respect for their spiritual authority? These church leaders might just be getting away with fooling themselves, but most of the young people can see right through the dichotomy.

    Who would want to keep going to an institution week after week that doesn't really have a clue what it believes, and offers nothing fundamentally different than the world? Especially when you can have a lot more fun bar-hopping or doing something else fun.

  4. I understand what you are saying, but from what I have read and understand, kids are leaving the churches that adhere to your beliefs and ideals as well.

  5. That's true, but only nominally. Even in the ones that aren't sold out to liberalism, the churches (and parents) aren't doing much to give them any intellectual grounding in their faith. As good a song as “Jesus Loves Me” is, that and a sermon or two on “be good to your neighbor” isn't even close to good enough for the hungering, questioning mind of a young person.

    And if parents and churches don't give young people education and training in their faith that has some meat in it, young folks will get tired of it and look for substance somewhere else…almost always the wrong place, i.e. something that seems to have meat and meets a need, but in reality is just rotten meat that will poison them.

  6. I too am concerned about our youth. You say that even the conservative churches arent giving kids intellectual grounding and education and training in their faith. That is true, but when they are told that they must believe that Eve was created ny a God who ripped a rib out of Adam, what education can you give them that would increase the chance they would believe that story. The only thing you can say is that it is true because the Bible says it is true. Thats not intellectually grounding( to use your terms) at all to them. It's just telling them to accept it.

  7. No more or less than telling them telling them fairy tales like the universe came into existence on its own from nothing, that life just magically pops up from a collection of chemicals, and that princes come from frogs. (Hint: at least one set of teaching, if done competently, isn't illogical within its own framework of assumptions)

  8. I agree with your comparison, but what we are discuusing is why kids, even those brought up in conservative Churhes that focus on educaton and training in the Christian faith, have problems with stories like Adams rib and a 6000 year old earth.

    Much more than we were, kids are exposed to the world at a much earlier age.Some of the things they learn make it hard for them to accept a 6000 year old earth. I am not talking about someone teaching them 'evolutionary dogma', but everyday knowledge that they are exposed to..

    As I mentioned in an earlier thread, a TV show revealed that man can now make diamonds. This was a show that kids commonly watch. It showed that with proper time, pressure and heat, diamonds can be created. With super amounts of pressure applied( more than what is under the earths crust even if a vast ocean lay on top) diamonds can be made in a short time. If you reduce the pressure to what is under the earths surface, then it takes millions of years to make a diamond at that pressure. It's a mathematical equation that has now been confimed by man because he can make the diamonds.

    Again, this is not an example of liberal church failing in its educational duties nor is it scientists telling kids evolution is correct. It is merely a fact on what it takes for the earth to make diamonds and how man can artificially now produce them.

    Kids see and hear these truths all the time in various aspects of their lives. then they go into a church that tells them the eath is 6000 years old. but they know that, as an example, diamonds take millions of years to form naturally under the pressures under our crust, unless they can be shown why that isnt true. That then puts the Church in an awkward position

  9. The following are questions taken from an eighth-grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, Kansas.

    1. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
    2. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
    4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
    5. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided..
    6. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
    7. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
    8. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
    9. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
    10. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
    11. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
    12. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
    13. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
    14. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
    15.Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.
    Need I mention that most young people of that era continued in their fundamental Christian beliefs through adolescence and adulthood? It could be argued that the more they knew about the world, the more likely they were to remain faithful to God.
    Today, in many school districts, 60% of young people fail to finish high school and of those that do half are functionally illiterate. These are the young people that we are losing from our churches. They have been told how smart and important they are (against all evidence), then imbued from infancy with the culture of materialism and the doctrines of pseudo-science. The problem is much deeper and more serious than you suggest, Dr. Rutledge. The soft and non-judgmental feel-good efforts of many churches have done little to help our youth live happy productive lives or secure their eternal salvation. It is little wonder they grow to distrust and even disdain the church.
    That is why I teach a class at my church that presents the fundamentals of science, the theory of evolution with all its inconsistencies and falsehoods and the relevance of Genesis to understanding the rest of the Scriptures. Genesis is foundational and if we don’t explain that to our youth (and many adults) then we run the risk of losing them to a seductive world-view that they are ill-equipped to question critically.

  10. Those “stories” you mentioned only become hard for them to accept because from every corner lies and misrepresentations of scientific fact is pushed at them, and most of the Christian community couldn't be bothered to educate itself well enough to help young people understand the difference between assumptions and fact.

    For instance, from news, school, television and movies children are bombarded with multiple messages that science has proved, proved beyond any doubt, that evolution is true and that the earth is billions of years old. What young people (or anyone, for that matter) almost never hear is that these assertions are blatant lies, that evolution and the allegedly vast age of the earth has not in the least been proved, that some people who are ideologically and theologically predisposed to disbelieve the Genesis account have examined the evidence, manufactured a host of assumptions regarding that evidence, and have attempted to pass off those assumptions as established fact.

    They also don't hear about the incredible problems the theory of evolution has, nor about its irrational dependence on supernatural events to bring about a 100% natural chain of events. They also don't hear about creation theories that line up very well with the objective facts–often lining up much better than the assumptions made by evolutionists.

    Your analogy of diamond creation has a great degree of merit, but what you failed to mention is that you are assuming there have been no extraordinary circumstances (a global flood, say) which could produce diamonds tremendously faster than they could otherwise be produced under present, relatively stable conditions. Or the fact that diamonds have been found to contain levels of carbon far, far too high for their alleged ancient age.

    See, the science can easily fit creationist theories…and when you consider the contradiction of carbon levels, the evolutionist/ancient theory becomes illogical and irrational. Young people (even adults) seldom hear this other side.

    That's why the church, the Bible, and Christianity in general starts to look stupid and silly to them. They never hear the other side.. That is partly our culture's fault for perpetuating an illogical, unfounded lie, and partly the fault of the church and the Christians in it for failing to, as the Apostle Peter admonished, “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

  11. dr theo

    To properly argue your point, you would have to state how many kids in 1895 even attended highschool and how many finished as well. You are saying it is much worse now, and you could be right, but I need comparative statistics to know if that is true. That being said, I certainly agree that todays educational system needs vast improvements and it always will.Can never have too much education. I wonder what the percentage of kids overall that attend college today is compared to 1950 ? Any idea ?

    I do believe a child that comes from a stable family, strong ethical background and even a strong religious fundamental background has a good basis to help them advance in life.I was brought up in a family where one parent was religious and the other was not, but always gave us immense love and encouragement. Values were taught by both.

    But where I find fault with your arguement is that your postulation that people with a strong Christian upbringing will equate with higher education and more success in life than someone… say brought up in an atheist environment. Would love to see the stats on that. Eternal salvation arguments are a different subject and can't be quantified. Do you really know which of our kids will achieve it ?. The problem is indeed complexed.

  12. dr theo

    To properly argue your point, you would have to state how many kids in 1895 even attended highschool and how many finished as well. You are saying it is much worse now, and you could be right, but I need comparative statistics to know if that is true. That being said, I certainly agree that todays educational system needs vast improvements and it always will.Can never have too much education. I wonder what the percentage of kids overall that attend college today is compared to 1950 ? Any idea ?

    I do believe a child that comes from a stable family, strong ethical background and even a strong religious fundamental background has a good basis to help them advance in life.I was brought up in a family where one parent was religious and the other was not, but always gave us immense love and encouragement. Values were taught by both.

    But where I find fault with your arguement is that your postulation that people with a strong Christian upbringing will equate with higher education and more success in life than someone… say brought up in an atheist environment. Would love to see the stats on that. Eternal salvation arguments are a different subject and can't be quantified. Do you really know which of our kids will achieve it ?. The problem is indeed complexed.