Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wicker's Fall of the Evangelical Nation Part 3

Christine Wicker's book details numerous serious problems facing the evangelical church today, as explained in earlier posts.
Read Part 1
Read Part 2

One of the most ominous facts she refers to comes from Josh McDowell. Wicker quotes McDowell from his book, The Last Christian Generation, saying. "It has been estimated that between 69 and 94 percent of churched youth are leaving the traditional church after high school, and very few are returning. Furthermore, only 33 percent of churched youth have said that the church will pla a part in their lives when they leave home."

This is about as bad as news can get. The church is losing its voice with young people more than any others. Why should we be concerned about that? Look at this chart:

As you can see, most people become Christians during their high school and college years. If the church is losing its voice with these people it means we can expect the anemia of recent years to deepen rapidly. This is perhaps the most critical problem the church faces today--how will we develop effective outreach to students, and how can we form communities that they consider cool, spiritual, and nourishing?

Even though Xenos is know as a leader in this area, we too feel the tension. The reputation of Christians are at an all time low with students, especially in college. You can check out our work with 750 university students here.


Christine Wicker said...

I'm the author of "The Fall of the Evangelical Nation." Thank you for opening a discussion of it.

One of the most depressing facts that your chart doesn't show is that most of those kids who are being saved won't stay in the church after they graduate from high school. Being saved has become almost a rite of passage that is left behind in adulthood. The book, "unChristian" documents that well.

Even if the kids come back when they marry, they won't marry for 10 to 20 years. A long time for the church to be without them.

Dennis said...

Hi, Christine. Good to have authors visit.

In our group, our 28 or so high school house churches are nearly all led by college students in our university group. They make friends with students in this 550 student group, and then recruit them to come to join their college home churches. our rate of transition from high school to college is in the 95% range every year. So in my view the church has no excuse for losing these kids.