Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith... and How to Bring Them Back

( 2 )

Overview

Young people aren't walking away from the church-they're sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these "leavers" are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community such as home churches and small groups. When ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $7.17   
  • New (6) from $7.17   
  • Used (5) from $9.85   
Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . . and How to Bring Them Back

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - New Edition)
$8.99
BN.com price
(Save 14%)$10.49 List Price

Overview

Young people aren't walking away from the church-they're sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these "leavers" are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community such as home churches and small groups. When they leave church, many leave the faith as well.

Drawing on recent research and in-depth interviews with young leavers, Generation Ex-Christian will shine a light on this crisis and propose effective responses that go beyond slick services or edgy outreach. But it won't be easy. Christianity is regarded with suspicion by the younger generation. Those who leave the faith are often downright cynical. To make matters worse, parents generally react poorly when their children go astray. Many sink into a defensive crouch or go on the attack, delivering homespun fire-and-brimstone sermons that further distance their grown children. Others give up completely or take up the spiritual-sounding "all we can do is pray" mantra without truly exploring creative ways to engage their children on matters of faith. Some turn to their churches for help, only to find that they frequently lack adequate resources to guide them. This is where Generation Ex-Christian will lend a hand. It will equip and inspire parents, church leaders, and everyday Christians to reawaken the prodigal's desire for God and set him or her back on the road to a dynamic faith. The heart of the book will be the raw profiles of real-world, young ex-Christians. No two leavers are identical, but upon close observation some categories emerge. The book will identify seven different kinds of leavers (the postmodern skeptic, the drifter, the neopagan, etc.) and offer practical advice for how to connect with each type. Shrewd tips will also intersperse the chapters alerting readers to opportunities for engagement, and to hidden landmines they must sidestep to effectively reach leavers.

Read More Show Less

What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

FRONT MATTER BLURBS (see below for FRONT COVER and BACK COVER BLURBS)

"Simply the best guide on the varieties of unbelief in the postmodern era. Not only does Generation Ex-Christian compassionately diagnose the ways people flee and fight God, but Drew Dyck wisely counsels his readers on how to best communicate and model the beauty, truth, and compassion of the Gospel to each variety of unbelief. The book captivated me from beginning to end."

-Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church

"Drew guides us through the blur of the forest's edge, and crouches down to point out the various root causes of why young people are deserting the Christian faith. By exposing our overgeneralizations, this book helps us to respond with love, truth, and grace-one person at a time."

-James Choung, author of True Story

"Many of us have had the heart-wrenching experience of watching someone we love abandon their walk with God. In fact, young people are leaving the Christian faith at an alarming and unprecedented rate. In this insightful and important book, which I nearly finished in a single sitting, Drew Dyck delves into the reasons for this phenomenon, giving us six different categories of leavers and practical ways to re-engage them. A compelling read for anyone involved with today's youth."

-Felicity Dale, House2House Ministries and co-author of The Rabbit and the Elephant

"As a 20-something I struggle with watching my peers leave the church one-by-one. Generation Ex-Christian is a great tool to better understand the needs of young adults. Don't wait for another young person to leave the church. Pick up your copy today!"

-Renee Johnson, author of Faithbook of Jesus and creator of Throw Mountains.

"Every person that leaves the church has a story-it's often complicated and interwoven with a myriad of life experiences. Dyck unwinds these multifaceted stories and carefully explains why young adults drift from God. You will recognizemany of Dyck's portraits. They are people in your life-your neighbors, family, and friends. He reveals the emotional backdrop of why people wander from faith. This book will help you find ways to journey with people and help guide them back to the one, true story that matters most."

-Sam Rainer, president of Rainer Research and author of Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts

"What Drew does here is take something that people of faith are often scared to think about, something that people of faith need to think about, and make us face the problem. Then he provides real insight into why young people leave and gives guidance on how to engage them."

-Josh Riebock, author of mY Generation

"Drew Dyck wants to help people who once were found, but now are lost. He paints detailed portraits of those who've left the church and the Christian faith in all their complexity. But he doesn't write as a disinterested documentarian merely cataloguing the reasons for their departures. Generation Ex-Christian is ultimately about bringing 'leavers' back to faith. He offers unlikely but welcome counsel in this age of non-judgmental 'conversations' and 'journeys.' If you're longing to rescue friends, relatives, and others who've left their Christian faith, Generation Ex-Christian is for you."

-Candice Watters, founding editor of Boundless.org

FRONT COVER BLURB

"Simply the best guide on the varieties of unbelief in the postmodern era."
-Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church

BACK MATTER BLURBS

"Drew guides us through the blur of the forest's edge, and crouches down to point out the various root causes of why young people are deserting the Christian faith. By exposing our overgeneralizations, this book helps us to respond with love, truth, and grace-one person at a time."

-James Choung, author of True Story

"Young people are leaving the Christian faith at an alarming and unprecedented rate. DrewDyck delves into the reasons for this phenomenon, giving us six different categories of leavers and practical ways to re-engage them. A compelling read for anyone involved with today's youth."

-Felicity Dale, House2House Ministries and co-author of The Rabbit and the Elephant

"Every person that leaves the church has a story-it's often complicated and interwoven with a myriad of life experiences. You will recognize many of Dyck's portraits. They are people in your life-your neighbors, family, and friends. This book will help you find ways to journey with them and guide them back to the one, true story that matters most."

-Sam Rainer, president of Rainer Research and author of Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802443557
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/27/2010
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,269,987
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


DREW DYCK is the managing editor of Leadership Journal at Christianity Today International. Drew holds an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before coming to Christianity Today he was the editor of New Man magazine. He and his wife, Grace, live in Carol Stream, Illinois and attend Jericho Road Church.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword by Sean McDowell
Introduction: Follow the Shepherd

Section 1: Postmodern Leavers
1. Goodbye, God
2. Reality Remix
3.Welcoming Back Postmodern Leavers

Section 2: Recoilers
4. Into the Night
5. Recoilers
6. Reaching Recoilers

Section 3: Modern Leavers
7. Dawkins Disciples
8. Modern Man
9. Speaking to Modern Leavers

Section 4: Neo-Pagans  
10. Wicca's Spell
11. Engaging Neo-Pagans

Section 5: Rebels
12. Party Time
13. Rebels
14. Rebels Needing a Cause

Section 6: Drifters
15. Meet a Drifter
16. Getting the Drift
17. Turning the Tide

Chapter 18: Come Home!
Appendix: Won't They Just Come Back When They're Older?
Notes
Acknowledgments

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

GENERATION EX-CHRISTIAN

WHY YOUNG ADULTS ARE LEAVING THE FAITH ... AND HOW TO BRING THEM BACK
By DREW DYCK

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2010 Drew Dyck
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8024-4355-7


Chapter One

Good-bye, God

My friend Abe was raised as a Christian, but abandoned his faith during college.

"I don't know what happened," he said with a shrug. "I just left it."

When I heard about Abe's "deconversion," my mind jumped to the last time I'd seen him. It was at a Promise Keepers rally the year after we graduated from high school. I remember being surprised to see him there; neither of us had been strong Christians in school. But watching him standing next to his father in the coliseum, it was clear something had clicked. As the voices of twenty thousand men lifted in unison, Abe squeezed his eyes shut and extended one slender arm skyward. He seemed solemn yet peaceful, totally absorbed in God's presence.

It was a powerful evening. I can still hear the words of one of the event's speakers. He wasn't the most eloquent in the lineup, and he had a slight speech impediment, but his passion for Christ was palpable.

"I don't know about you guys," he said. "But I want to run the race so hard that when I reach the end, I fall exhausted into the arms of Jesus."

After he spoke, the stadium was silent. In that moment I think we all felt the same way. We didn't want to just hobble through our spiritual journeys. We wanted to sprint. When we came to the end, we wanted to collapse into the arms of Jesus.

I'd considered myself a Christian ever since my dad walked into my room one night in 1983, knelt beside my lower bunk, and led me in the sinner's prayer. I was five years old when that happened and probably didn't understand exactly what I was saying. And yet, it was real. It wasn't until my late teens, however, when I carefully read the gospels, that the faith truly became my own.

When I saw Abe worshiping at the rally, I assumed he had undergone a similar transformation. We were both pastors' kids. We had both gone through the proverbial rebellious phase, but that didn't mean we didn't believe.

How could the guy I'd watched lost in worship turn cold toward God?

That's why I was shocked by his decision to leave the faith. I was a little curious too. What had prompted Abe, who was my age, and from a remarkably similar background, to defect? How could the guy I'd watched lost in worship turn cold toward God?

EXODUS NOW

It's a question that's being asked a lot these days. Young adults are fleeing the faith in record numbers. Abe may be a riddle, but he's not rare.

Religious beliefs are elusive targets for conventional research. No survey or study can fully probe the heart of a person, much less the mind of God. So when it comes to assessing how many people are joining or leaving the faith, we're dealing with educated guesses. To steal the apostle Paul's beautiful phrase, "we see through a glass darkly."

Still a number of recent surveys give us important clues about the emerging generation's patterns of belief. And it's not a pretty picture. Among young adults, there's a major shift taking place-away from Christianity.

The first indicators are church attendance and involvement. Here the statistics are grim. According to Rainer Research 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are twenty-two years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are twenty-nine years old. Unlike older church dropouts, these young "leavers" are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community, such as home churches and small groups. When they leave church, many leave the faith as well. One commentator put the reality in stark terms:

Imagine a group photo of all the students who come to your church (or live within your community of believers) in a typical year. Take a big fat marker and cross out three out of every four faces. That's the probable toll of spiritual disengagement as students navigate through their faith during the next two decades.

I don't need a "big fat marker" to perform this experiment. I've watched it play out among my friends over the past decade. The social networking website Facebook has emerged as the younger generation's preferred way to communicate with large numbers of friends. It's a great way to keep tabs on people from the past. As I scan the online accounts of former youth group friends, the drift from God is unmistakable. Many no longer even wear the Christian label. Others have not explicitly renounced the faith, but their online pictures, comments, and profiles reveal lifestyles and attitudes few would describe as Christian. Some were particularly surprising to me. Under the "religious views" category in her profile, one previously devout Christian had simply written: "God has left the building." Another shock came from a sweet, soft-spoken girl who used to sing on my church's worship team. Now her album of pictures looked like an advertisement for Girls Gone Wild. She had sent me a message wanting to catch up. I wrote back and asked if she was "still into Jesus." Her response said it all-I didn't get one.

As I scan the online accounts of former youth group friends, the drift from God is unmistakable.

Of course Facebook accounts hardly serve as reliable gauges of spiritual health. When it comes to most of my friends, I probably won't discover where they are at in their relationships with God. I might not have the opportunity to see them again face-to-face, let alone delve into their most deeply held beliefs. Thankfully, I did have that opportunity with Abe.

"I FELT NOTHING"

Fast-forward six years from that Promise Keepers rally and Abe's sitting in my studio apartment, slapping a cigarette from a pack of American Spirits. The intervening years had taken us each down very different paths. I was married. He was single. I was headed to seminary. He was wrapping up law school. I was an active Christian. He'd rejected the faith. At the time of his visit, he was celebrating a last stint of student-life freedom by motorbiking across the United States. I offered him my futon when he rolled into town. It wasn't much, but compared to the nights he'd been spending in his pop-up tent, it probably felt like the Marriott.

We talked late into the night. Since high school he'd lived an exciting and eclectic life. I felt a twinge of jealousy as he described experiences that seemed lifted from a Jack Kerouac novel. He had lived in London, and worked as a bartender. He backpacked through India. He spent summers tree planting in northern Alberta, a lucrative seasonal gig that funded his nomadic existence. Somewhere in Asia he suspended his travels to meditate in a Buddhist monastery. He'd become a vegetarian.

"I can't see how people can justify using animals as a resource," he said as he fried up a delicious feast of falafel balls for me and my wife.

His experiences had changed him-most significantly in his views about God. When I broached the subject, his voice grew quiet.

"When I left the faith, I thought it would feel really bad. I assumed I'd come right back. But I didn't feel bad. I felt nothing."

Though he was philosophical about his departure, he didn't regret it. In fact he felt liberated. And he was slightly combative.

"Can you honestly say that Christianity has been good for humanity?" he asked.

His tone was equally critical when he talked about his parents, especially his father whom he described as "a right-winger."

If I had been saddened by Abe's decision, his father was devastated. When he heard of Abe's decision, he rushed him the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, hoping it might bring him back.

It didn't.

Abe read the book, even enjoyed it, but didn't change his decision to bid his faith farewell.

"Growing up I had an uncle that wasn't a Christian and we prayed for him all the time," Abe said wistfully. "They probably pray for me like that now."

A DIFFERENT UNIVERSE

Why do young people leave the faith?

Whenever I ask people inside the church I receive some variation of the same answer. They leave because of moral compromise, I am told. A teenage girl goes off to college and starts to party. A young man moves in with his girlfriend. Soon the conflict between their beliefs and behavior becomes unbearable. Something has to give. Tired of dealing with a guilty conscience and unwilling to abandon their sinful lifestyles, they drop their Christian commitment. They may cite intellectual skepticism or disappointments with the church, but don't be fooled. These are just excuses, smoke screens designed to hide their real reason for going astray. "They change their creed to match their conduct," as my parents would say.

There's even an academic basis for this explanation. Psychologists call this "cognitive dissonance." Basically the theory goes like this. Opposing beliefs or behaviors cause psychological distress. We seek to resolve the tension by dropping or modifying one of those contradictory beliefs or behaviors. Once we do, our psyche's harmony is restored.

I think there's a lot of truth to that hypothesis-more than most young leavers would care to admit (and we'll explore this reason for leaving later in the book). "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting," wrote G. K. Chesterton. "It's been found difficult and left untried." Even practicing Christians can attest to the truth encapsulated in that clever verbal twist. Living the Christian life is hard, and when you're failing short, as we all do, it's easy to forfeit relationship with an invisible deity in order to indulge sinful, real-world desires.

For Abe, I'm sure moral compromise played a role. Christian morality didn't exactly jibe with his new lifestyle, which included relationships with the opposite sex that fell outside the biblical model. It would have been difficult for him to hold a Christian worldview while engaging in a pattern of behavior that opposed it.

I saw that his parents' attempts to call him back to God were futile because he inhabited a different universe.

Yet the moral compromise explanation didn't tell the whole story. He had other reasons for leaving, and they weren't just smoke screens. The more we talked, the more I believed that they were at the root of why he left. He balked at Christian entanglement with conservative politics. He pointed out what he saw as a lack of compassion for the poor among Christians. And he wasn't moved by the apologetics of yesteryear. Ultimately I saw that his parents' attempts to call him back to God were futile because he inhabited a different universe, one populated with ideas and sensibilities that were completely alien to them. I'd soon begin to discover the laws of this new universe and find out just how many other young adults had followed Abe through the wormhole.

Chapter Two

Reality Remix

Have you noticed a change in the way today's young people speak? No, I'm not referring to the ubiquitous and improper use of the word "like" or the annoying addition of texting acronyms such as "OMG," "BFF," and "LOL" to the popular lexicon. I'm talking about a way of speaking that suggests a subtle yet profound change in the way the younger generation actually processes reality.

Maybe you have heard young people talk about a different "truth" for each person, an idea that would have seemed absurd even fifty years ago. "True for you, but not for me," is a common refrain. Or maybe you've sensed the high premium the emerging generation places on individual experience.

The language used in regard to romantic relationships is especially telling. Recently I was watching a TV show popular with young adults. One of the characters was counseling a friend in a troubled marriage and urged him to get a divorce. The breakthrough came when he grabbed his beleaguered friend by the shoulders and said, "You know that you haven't loved her (his wife) for a long time." This was supposed to be a good friend, delivering good advice.

The scene's implication was clear: staying in a relationship after feelings of love have fled is wrong. How you feel in a particular moment trumps any previously made commitments, including wedding vows. This way of thinking seems to permeate all aspects of morality: "Do whatever works for you," could be the mantra of many of today's young people.

Such statements may leave you scratching your head. Isn't truth by its very nature exclusive? And why is experience the end-all when it comes to morality? What if your experience leads you astray?

If you've noticed this type of language, you've detected the influence of a paradigm commonly called postmodernism.

THE END OF REASON

With our bellies filled with falafel, Abe and I moved the few short feet from the kitchen to the living room. In reality, the presence of different rooms was an illusion, the work of imagination and clever furniture arrangement; the small apartment had no dividing walls. We put on some tea and plopped into my secondhand IKEA chairs. I leaned across the coffee table. I needed to understand how Abe dismissed the central claims of the Christian faith, claims that were so compelling to me.

The writing of C. S. Lewis had been a formative influence in my own journey. One of Lewis's most popular arguments is often referred to as the "liar, lunatic, or Lord" or "trilemma" argument. It is a response to the view that Jesus was merely a great moral teacher, but not the divine Son of God. Nonsense, says Lewis. If Jesus was not telling the truth about His identity, He was not a great moral teacher. To Lewis, there were only three possibilities about a man who claimed to be God. Either he was lying, crazy, or he was telling the truth. "You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God," Lewis writes. "But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

How could Abe sidestep such a potent argument'? What had he decided about Christ? In order to find out I began a line of questioning designed to steer him toward Lewis' trilemma trap.

"What do you think of Christ's ethics?" I asked him.

"Flawless," Abe conceded.

Now I have him cornered, I thought.

"Okay, then how do you deal with His claim to be God? How can someone with flawless ethics lie about his identity?"

Abe is educated, and he knows the Bible. I expected a sophisticated explanation for this apparent contradiction. Maybe he would attack the historicity of the gospels or challenge my traditional interpretation of them. I was ready for such objections. I wasn't ready for what he said.

How could I reason with someone who didn't believe in reason?

"I don't really believe in all that rationality," he said. "Reason and logic come from the Western philosophical tradition. I don't think that's the only way to find truth."

His response silenced me. How could I reason with someone who didn't believe in reason? My interactions with Abe sent me on a quest to understand his worldview.

SHIFTING GROUND

In the preface to his book, Live to Tell: Evangelism for a Postmodern Age, Brad Kallenberg recounts his decade-long stint as a college campus evangelist. When he started in the late 1970s, conversion rates were high. Kallenberg recalls that about 10 percent of gospel presentations resulted in conversion. But by 1985 the percentage rate had slipped to about 6 or 7 percent-this despite the fact that Kallenberg and fellow evangelists were working twice as hard to make the gospel intelligible to increasingly biblically illiterate students.

Disheartened by the dwindling numbers they switched tactics, investing money in huge on-campus advertising campaigns to generate a "warm market" of students. Despite such efforts, numbers continued to fall. Shortly after Kallenberg's departure from the ministry in 1989, the percentage of conversions fell to an abysmal 2 percent.

All along Kallenberg and the other campus evangelists were sharing the same message. The results, however, were changing dramatically. So what was happening? For Kallenberg the mystery cleared when he enrolled in graduate school and began studying philosophy. A major shift had taken place in the field, he discovered, that was now beginning to affect the culture. Suddenly Kallenberg understood why it felt like the "ground was shifting under (his) feet." The old ways of thinking were crumbling and Christian faith was regarded differently in the new milieu. Kallenberg discovered that he had been feeling the impact of postmodernism. And those were just the first tremors. The earthquake was still coining. By the 1990s, it had shaken Western culture to its core, changing the ideological landscape for an entire generation.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from GENERATION EX-CHRISTIAN by DREW DYCK Copyright © 2010 by Drew Dyck. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    A must read for anyone in ministry

    Great information on the 'personality' of the different groups that a ministry will face.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)