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Will the Pandemic Cause Young People to Abandon the Church in Droves?

empty church

If your church pews seem a little empty, it might not be an illusion. Recent statistics from Barna indicate that as more people opt for online services, more young people will opt out of church altogether.

In fact, Barna researchers suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic might “push larger numbers of young people to abandon Christianity or churchgoing.”

This research is specifically referring to self-identified Christians aged 18-29. It’s no secret that this particular demographic has been leaving the church in mass numbers over the years. But Barna President David Kinnaman thinks the pandemic is further agitating the problem.

He says:

“I actually think we're going to see an increasing number of people who've lost connectedness with their faith community, with their usual rhythms and practices . . . We know that 22% of young people today are what we call “prodigals.” They lost their faith entirely. That number grew by double from 11% 10 years ago. So what it will look like in 10 years is hard to know, but we think it's going to actually accelerate that problem.”

Within that demographic of young people, Barna researchers found three prominent groups:

  • 10% are “ideal” or “resilient” disciples
  • 30% are “nomads” who say they’re Christians but don’t attend church regularly
  • 38% are “habitual churchgoers” who have “a minimal relationship with God.”

Unfortunately, as these young people get out of the habit of regularly attending church and interacting with other believers, they will likely disconnect from the local church altogether.

What’s the Root Behind This Pandemic-Related Exodus?

We know that a pandemic in and of itself cannot create a mass exodus in the church. No, the problem goes much deeper.

In fact, Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham believes the many unfortunate events in 2020 are a warning to the lukewarm parts of the American church. This warning, he says, is a call to wake up from our sleep and raise up generations with a solid foundation of God’s Word, beginning in Genesis.

“They need to be equipped with apologetics to answer the attacks on Scripture that can cause doubt and put people on a slippery slide of unbelief,” he says. “Sadly, much of the church has resorted to entertainment, performance-oriented singing groups, and shallow teaching that will not stem the exodus of the younger generations from the church.”

If history has shown us anything, it’s that solid faith doesn’t come from entertainment—it comes from the truth of God’s Word.

That’s why the team at Answers in Genesis works hard to make apologetics and biblical teaching accessible for as many people as possible. Defending the faith isn’t just for Christian scholars or philosophers—it’s for the everyday believer. Every person has the right to know why they believe in God’s Word and the vast evidence around us that supports biblical Creation.

Learn More About Christian Apologetics!

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Interested to know how the pandemic is affecting people’s faith? Check out Pandemic, a Ray Comfort film that looks at people’s responses to the coronavirus—and how it’s forcing them to face their own mortality.

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