Teenagers Ditching Youth Group & Church

[caption id="attachment_2356" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="photo by marcia furman"][/caption] USA Today published a short piece on how the days of overcrowded youth groups and church trips are over.

Only about one in four teens now participate in church youth groups, considered the hallmark of involvement; numbers have been flat since 1999. Other measures of religiosity โ€” prayer, Bible reading and going to church โ€” lag as well, according to Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., evangelical research company. This all has churches canceling their summer teen camps and youth pastors looking worriedly toward the fall, when school-year youth groups kick in.
A few individuals guess why kids are ditching:
"Talking to God may be losing out to Facebook," says Barna president David Kinnaman.
"I blame the parents,"who didn't grow up in a church culture, says Jeremy Johnston, executive pastor at First Family Church in Overland Park, Kan. ... "Remember, 80% of kids don't have cars. Their parents could be lazy or the opposite โ€” overstressed and overcommitted. If parents don't go to church, kids don't, either."
Don't forget the overcommitted teens themselves, the recession and growing competition from summer mission trips, says Rick Gage of Go-Tell Youth Camps, based in Duluth, Ga.
But then this quote sneaks in at the very end without any explanation or curiosity from the authors:
"I started to question if it was something I always wanted to do or if I just went because my friends did," says Atkeson, now 18. "It just wasn't really something I wanted to continue to do. My beliefs changed. I wouldn't consider myself a Christian anymore."
This is where I think the article would get interesting! Why did they stop there? This may be the most important issue---beyond lazy parents and facebook. There must be more to kids leaving Christianity other than "I'm not attending church" or "I'm not going to camps with my youth group." Many Christians often say things like, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a mechanic." If Christianity and faith is so much more than just attending services, then what's causing this shift in teen commitments? (more…)