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Why Young People Leave Church

An Evans-Manning Award to Heather for this excellent comment on the earlier thread about youth ministry:

Having volunteered with my church’s youth group for the past four years, I will say that the number one factor in whether youth stick with their faith as they become adults is not their separation or participation in the liturgy. While I agree there are some problems with segregating age groups in the church, it’s parents who make the real difference. Parents who can say what they believe and why, who try to live out their faith in front of their children, and who accept big questions about faith from their kids without feeling threatened are the single most important factor in what kids grow up to believe. If real, living faith is part of everyday life, most kids stick with it. And if it’s something that’s done just once a week or very hypocritically, most of those kids walk away. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I couldn’t call a single specific one to mind from my four years when I tried.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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