Why Don’t Young Adults Go To Church? 10 Reasons You Should Know

Why Don't Young Adults Go To Church

A good number of people want to know why don’t young adults go to church. It is evident that the youth attend church less than their predecessors, but why? There is no one answer to this question, but young adults’ attitudes towards the many reasons they avoid church and religion are pretty similar.

This post will look at the most popular reasons why young adults are not attending church and the various ways to attract youth to church.

Young Adults Leaving The Church Statistics

The statistics are all over the place about young adults leaving the church. Most importantly, they seem to agree that there is an increase in youth who don’t attend church today for various reasons. It seems that 70 percent of adults stop attending church by 18, and about 75% of young adults stop attending church altogether once they get into college.

So, Why Don’t Young Adults Go To Church? 10 Reasons Follow:

The reasons below answer the question, Why Are Youth Leaving the Church, or Why Don’t They Go? Are based on answers given by young people between the ages of 18 – 29.

Some Young Adults Were Not Taught to Go To Church in the First Place

When children are not taught to go to church in the first place, it becomes a challenge for them to attend when they become adults. Think of it, most people, when asked, why do you go to so and so church? Will respond that they were born into such a church, or my parents went to such a church, or even grandma went to such a church.

Of course, there are many instances where people are invited to try out a church and stay on because they loved the experience or sought out church themselves.

Most children grow up doing what their parents teach them positively or altogether avoiding what was taught if they have a negative experience with it.

To encourage your children to go to church, you should do so yourself. Kids and young adults learn a lot from parent figures and role models.

Why Don't Young Adults Go To Church today

Moved to College

Unfortunately, moving to college is a reason many of our youth leave the church. Many young people who grow up attending church move to college and stop. Some individuals find it hard to join a new church because it is an entirely new environment for them and does not feel like the church they grew up attending. Some don’t feel connected to the new church, and others are so busy trying to figure out college life, they don’t have time for anything else.

The question, Why Don’t Young Adults Go To Church when they move to college is of great concern to churches as statistics show that this affects about 75% of our youth. This leads the church to ask questions like, “is it possible that Agnostic college professors are targeting our youth?” and so on. On the other hand, parents wonder if churches are doing enough to reach out to newly admitted college students.

Lack of Belief in the Bible and Miracles

The Bible is full of amazing stories, some of which sound too good to be true. And while I am one of those that believe every last story, some young adults say that bible stories sound more like a fairytale. To make it worse, some of these stories have no historical documentation, such as Moses’ splitting of the red sea, and others that are introduced as miracles have a scientific explanation. In reality, many people believe that miracles are not real. Many others don’t comprehend the miracles in the bible.

Lack of Belief in God

Why Don't Young Adults Go To Church

Some people just don’t believe there is a God. Many say there is no proof. Others that may have believed in God encounter moments where religious doctrines don’t work as preached. For instance, you pray for your dying Grandma to live with the faith that God will answer your prayers, but she eventually dies. Not having your prayer answered is one of the main reasons that people who already believe in God will stop believing and stop going to church.

Unacceptable Scandals by Church Leaders

While condemning immoral acts, many church leaders have fallen from grace for practicing just the opposite of what they preach. Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Gothard, Shoko Asahara, Bob Coy, Robert Tilton, and several Catholic Church priests came to the end of their preaching careers for committing acts where they would frown upon others doing the same thing. Scandals such as child porn, child sexual abuse, solicitation of prostitution, rape, sex trafficking, fraud, and misuse of church funds are among the main reasons many church leaders were disgraced.

Reduced Ties to Religious Affiliations

When asking why young adults don’t attend church, look at individuals’ choices not to be affiliated with any specific religion. Some individuals do not want to be affiliated with a specific church and therefore don’t attend any. Others don’t want to be identified as Christians, Muslims, etc. In recent years, the number of people, both youth and adults, who are choosing not to identify with any religion has grown quite significantly.

Boring Pastors and Boring Programs

While most people love their priests or pastors and accept them with any shortcomings, one flaw that cannot be forgiven by many is flat, uninteresting, tedious, insipid preaching or sermons. Most people don’t want to go to church to sleep, and if a pastor or priest is consistently dull, they will lose their church members (including young adults).

Churches should train their priests or pastors in strategies that keep their audience engaged.

Disconnect From “Real World Problems”.

Some Young people complain that the church does not give enough attention to real-world problems. They say there is an obvious disconnect. Recently, we have experienced major issues that had global attention, and in many cases, the churches remained silent as they tried to avoid taking a political stance. The effect, however, is that they seem unreal. As one young adult told me, “how do I go to church on a day a whole city is burning down and get no comment from the priest? Aren’t they supposed to be leaders?”

But the church does speak up about things it takes a stance on, such as abortion and gay rights. However, being selective about what they choose to speak about leaves young people wondering whether they are concerned enough.

Some People are Opposed to Harsh Bible Stories

Bible terms like “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (taken from the book of the Bible, Exodus, 21:24) and other similar bible verses cause readers to question whether they should be involved in religion that supports such principles.

The Bible makes use of some very strong language, and also, there are dealings and punishments that are questionable in the bible. Today’s youth may not think of everything as acceptable or fair, as most of the principles in the old testament of the bible may conflict with today’s teachings of fairness.

This is not to say that the book of the bible does not change as, in the new testament, you will find the following, “…You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:38-39).

Fear of Sin and Judgment

People assume that young adults want to live a carefree life and not be held accountable in any way. In reality, they don’t want to be judged for their actions. The youth, like everyone else, know the difference between wrong and right but are not welcoming of biased opinions that many churches are guilty of.

Why Don't Young Adults Go To Church

Young people want to come into church without being judged for their dress, style, makeup, race, perception of their sexuality, who they are with, or what you imagine they did in the past.

Youth are More Tolerant

Most youths are more tolerant of behaviors classified as a sin and do not want to be told to hate anyone or group based on their acts. This would apply to race, sexuality, abortions, or even witchcraft. The youth believe that there is a lot of intolerance and hypocrisy in the church, and most do not want a part of it.

Poor Role Models

Apart from church leaders engaging in scandalous behaviors, people with role models who act poorly but emphasize churchgoing would likely not want anything to do with the church.

Poor role models for the church would include abusive parents, alcoholics, spouses who abuse one another or treat each other poorly, racist role models, and other bad actors.

Individuals who act one way behind the public scenes but are fully engaged in church activities may influence young adults negatively when it comes to going to church.

Young People Ask, Why Does God Allow Bad Things?

Accidents, deaths, job losses, divorces, mental or physical illness, and other such calamities are real reasons young adults don’t attend church today.

Many young people listen to Christian doctrines that tell that God makes miracles and answer prayers offered in faith. This results in young people asking God at desperate times for miracles, many of which they feel are unanswered.

The question is, “If God exists, why would he allow bad things?” But there is also the argument that if God were there granting everyone’s request for a miracle, then we would be in a world where nothing goes wrong. Everyone will be perfectly safe.


Many young people are just passive about the church. They don’t want to try to attend church, not because they don’t believe, but simply because it requires effort they are not willing to give. Many argue that they can have the same relationship with God from their homes as they do from the church.

What are Young Adults Looking For in a Church

what are young people looking for in a church

Young adults come to church because they are hungry for God’s presence and want a relationship with him. If you can guide them to this experience, they will most likely stay with your church.

Most young adults seek a nonjudgemental church – they want to come as they are. They feel uncomfortable when they listen to sermons that seem to condemn them. This is not to say that the message from the church has to change to suit the audience. Pastor Priscilla Shirer would say, “…come as you are but leave a changed person.” But she, like a few other pastors, can tell the truth gracefully in a way that their audience is willing to listen.

Young adults want preachers that are honest and who practice what they preach. If you have no business being a church leader because you do not believe your own words or stand by them (and you know yourselves), do the church a favor and find a different career. Most young adults can discern your character or at least tell you that you are not sincere in your teachings.

They want practical churches that tell believable stories and relate to today rather than ages ago.

Here are some social activities youth like to engage in.

So, What Attracts Young Adults to Church

Sincere, friendly members who genuinely care about and reach out to them can be quite attractive to young adults. These individuals are looking to grow, so programs that will increase them or others are important. Further, many young adults are givers and are attracted to churches with programs that help the community.

How Do you Attract youth to a Church?

People come to the church for many reasons. The top reasons are for answers, a personal relationship with God, and the community church provides. If you can provide answers to their questions, lead them to a relationship with God, and be a welcome home to them, they most likely will stay at your church.

It is said that the Christian religion is the only religion known to worship a living God. For this reason, he craves a relationship with his people, and so do they. They also want to talk to him, ask questions and even scream at him when things go wrong.

The church can help people with issues they understand that they search for in the church. While avoiding those issues that drive away young people, they should be able to recruit and retain young people in their churches.

Some youths want to be involved in a youth ministry or similar group. Depending on how engaging and welcoming your youth groups are, you may be able to attract and retain young adults who want to be a part of the church.

Other Reasons Why Young People Leaving Religion

what attracts young people to church

Controversially, many new-age doctrines teach the youth to worship themselves and not to engage in the worship of any God or gods. They view God as an egotistic spirit that desires people to bow down and worship him. Such young people will reject the church’s teachings, which require the worship of God.

Some others believe that God practices favoritism and does not treat everyone equally. They look to the bible to support their claims that God has his favorite people and tribes. Instead, they would not worship him, especially if they didn’t feel a connection with God.

Here Are A Few More Reasons Why Youth Don’t Go To Church

In addition to all that has already been covered in this post, and apart from the controversial new age doctrines mentioned in the paragraphs above this one, we asked the youth why they don’t go to church. Here are the reasons they gave us.

Even after talking to the youth, we can say the answer isn’t always clear, but there are many reasons that could explain this trend.

The Youth Say The Church Is Not For Everyone

Churches are not just places where we go to worship God; they are also places where we come together as families, friends, and communities. They offer opportunities for socialization, education, and spiritual growth. However, some people feel uncomfortable at church because of the environment, the rules, or the expectations. This leads them to believe that the church isn’t for everyone but for certain types of people.

The Youth Believe They Have No Time

Many young people say they don’t have enough time to attend church. In fact, one study found that only 20% of youth who attended religious services weekly said they had no other activities during the week. So what do these busy teens do with their free time? According to another survey, more than half of them spend their time working, playing video games, watching TV, hanging out with friends, or doing homework.

Young People Say They’re Afraid Of Getting Scared

Some young people feel the church is an accusatory organization with the goal of calling people out on what the church believes is wrongdoing. Understandably, some young people would prefer to avoid church because they feel uncomfortable there. After all, churches are places where people come together to pray, sing songs, and share stories. And while those things might sound nice, they also bring up feelings of fear and anxiety.

They Think It’s Just A Place Where You Sit And Pray

Many young people think the church is just a place to sit and pray. That’s not true at all! Churches are places where people gather to worship God and celebrate His love for each other. Many social activities are designed around the church to engage its members and help the community.

The Youth Say The Church Isn’t Making an Effort to Reach Them

There are many reasons why youth don’t go to church. One reason is that churches haven’t made an effort to reach them. They need to make sure that they are doing everything possible to attract youth to their services. And if young people come to your church with family and friends for other reasons, try to connect with them.

A Few Final Words

In this article, we have examined many reasons to answer the question: Why don’t young adults attend church today? But we may have left something out. If you have any ideas, please share them below or inbox me on this topic.

Christopher Udeani and Christine Udeani, JD
Christopher Udeani and Christine Udeani, JD

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