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Young people aren’t walking away from the church—they’re sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these “leavers” are Young people aren’t walking away from the church—they’re sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these “leavers” are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community such as home churches and small groups. When they leave church, many leave the faith as well. Drawing on recent research and in-depth interviews with young leavers, Generation Ex-Christian will shine a light on this crisis and propose effective responses that go beyond slick services or edgy outreach. But it won’t be easy. Christianity is regarded with suspicion by the younger generation. Those who leave the faith are often downright cynical. To make matters worse, parents generally react poorly when their children go astray. Many sink into a defensive crouch or go on the attack, delivering homespun fire-and-brimstone sermons that further distance their grown children. Others give up completely or take up the spiritual-sounding “all we can do is pray” mantra without truly exploring creative ways to engage their children on matters of faith. Some turn to their churches for help, only to find that they frequently lack adequate resources to guide them. This is where Generation Ex-Christian will lend a hand. It will equip and inspire parents, church leaders, and everyday Christians to reawaken the prodigal's desire for God and set him or her back on the road to a dynamic faith. The heart of the book will be the raw profiles of real-world, young ex-Christians. No two leavers are identical, but upon close observation some categories emerge. The book will identify seven different kinds of leavers (the postmodern skeptic, the drifter, the neopagan, etc.) and offer practical advice for how to connect with each type. Shrewd tips will also intersperse the chapters alerting readers to opportunities for engagement, and to hidden landmines they must sidestep to effectively reach leavers.


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Young people aren’t walking away from the church—they’re sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these “leavers” are Young people aren’t walking away from the church—they’re sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these “leavers” are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community such as home churches and small groups. When they leave church, many leave the faith as well. Drawing on recent research and in-depth interviews with young leavers, Generation Ex-Christian will shine a light on this crisis and propose effective responses that go beyond slick services or edgy outreach. But it won’t be easy. Christianity is regarded with suspicion by the younger generation. Those who leave the faith are often downright cynical. To make matters worse, parents generally react poorly when their children go astray. Many sink into a defensive crouch or go on the attack, delivering homespun fire-and-brimstone sermons that further distance their grown children. Others give up completely or take up the spiritual-sounding “all we can do is pray” mantra without truly exploring creative ways to engage their children on matters of faith. Some turn to their churches for help, only to find that they frequently lack adequate resources to guide them. This is where Generation Ex-Christian will lend a hand. It will equip and inspire parents, church leaders, and everyday Christians to reawaken the prodigal's desire for God and set him or her back on the road to a dynamic faith. The heart of the book will be the raw profiles of real-world, young ex-Christians. No two leavers are identical, but upon close observation some categories emerge. The book will identify seven different kinds of leavers (the postmodern skeptic, the drifter, the neopagan, etc.) and offer practical advice for how to connect with each type. Shrewd tips will also intersperse the chapters alerting readers to opportunities for engagement, and to hidden landmines they must sidestep to effectively reach leavers.

30 review for Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . . and How to Bring Them Back

  1. 4 out of 5

    Grace Dyck

    written by my sweetheart.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill Stegemueller

    Generation EX-Christian by Drew Dyck is a book that addresses the question, “Why young adults are leaving the faith?” but also deals with the question, “How to bring them back?” The author spent a lot of times dialoguing and trying to understand the mindset of the average person that leaves the faith. He uses real examples from the people that he has interviewed (changing the names and details to protect people’s privacy) The book is timely. Especially with the fact that 70% of youth leave the ch Generation EX-Christian by Drew Dyck is a book that addresses the question, “Why young adults are leaving the faith?” but also deals with the question, “How to bring them back?” The author spent a lot of times dialoguing and trying to understand the mindset of the average person that leaves the faith. He uses real examples from the people that he has interviewed (changing the names and details to protect people’s privacy) The book is timely. Especially with the fact that 70% of youth leave the church by the time they are twenty-two years old. The Barna Group even estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are twenty-nine years old. (p.17) Drew Dyck describes 6 different types of people (lost sheep) that leave our churches. Each section is divided into three parts in which the person and mentality is described and then suggestions are made on how to reach out and reconnect with them. 1. The Postmodern Postmodernism believes that there is no such thing as objective truth, reality, value, reason, and so on. It holds that there is a different truth” for each person. Experience –not rationality –is the key to finding that truth. (p.27) Reaching Out to the Postmodern: Talking to leavers with a postmodern worldview can be frustrating because they place experience above reason. Dyck suggests talking about YOUR experience. When telling your story, Dyke points out, “It’s especially crucial to avoid slipping into the traditional ‘testimony’ rut. Remember, you are speaking with people who have likely heard dozens of testimonies. They know the formula well and they can tell when you’re adapting your experience to fit the mold. They will be far more impressed with transparency. Be honest with them about your struggles and even your doubts.” (p.36) Avoid arguing for the legitimacy of the gospel based on reason and science. (p.37) The important thing is to build trust. Dyck writes, “Postmoderns prefer to discover truth through experience rather than reason… and they also have a strong social conscience and willingness to serve the poor and oppressed,” he goes on to write, “You can honor these admirable characteristics by inviting them to participate in service projects with you and other Christians.” (p.39) 2. Recoilers Recoilers are those who have had a negative experience in the church. They are the ones who have, “suffered abuse and vowed that they would never take the chance to be victimized again.” (p.49) They are people who, “feel directly hurt or disappointed by God… and sometimes hold God responsible for experiences as disparate as extended spiritual dryness to misfortune in life.” (p.59) Reaching out to the Recoilers: It’s important to let them tell their story. Dyck quotes Psychologist Gunnoe, “First, you have to send the message that you’re there for that person emotionally. ‘I will cry with you… I will curse with you,’ only then can you hope to talk through other things.” Empathy –not arguments –is what they truly need at this point. (p.65) It’s also important to eventually enable them to delineate between God and the people that hurt them. Finally, Dyck points out, “We have rich truths to offer the recoilers in our lives… the Bible is a deep well for the abused and broken.” (p.67) 3. Modern Leavers This describes the Atheist. They leave the faith for intellectual reasons. Dyck points out, “Unlike the postmodern leavers… they love linear thinking, objective truth and the Western tradition of rational thought.” (p.74) Reaching out to the Modern Leaver: The frustrating part of dialoguing with the Modern Leavers is that you don’t have a common line of argument. You can’t really argue from the Bible, because they reject it as the ultimate truth source. The Modern Leaver often loves to debate. Dyke points out, “Your job isn’t to straighten out all their opinions; it’s to light the path back to Christ.” When someone rejects Christianity it’s perfectly valid to ask the to consider if the alternative is more satisfying. (p.97) It’s also appropriate to launch out with apologetics (C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel). Dyck points out, “These aren’t people who are shy about truth claims… they just have different truth claims… so lay yours out with conviction.” (p.100) 4. Neo-Pagans This encompasses (but not limited to) the modern day Wicca Movement. According to Barna 55% of Americans have never even heard of Wicca and yet it’s growing at a staggering rate… doubling every thirty months! (p.110) Wicca is derived from the word witchcraft and is a neo-pagan earth based religion. Dyck points out, “Wiccans worship a goddess and a god, practice magic, worship nature, and engage in seasonal rituals… they believe in a unifying energy present in nature that can be manipulated through magic to bring personal rewards such as love, financial blessing, and general happiness… they deny a transcendent deity; the goddess and god are merely manifestations of nature’s energy… Wiccans regard themselves as divine, and freely refer to themselves as gods or goddesses as well.” (p.111) Reaching the Neo-Pagans: Wiccans often have negative feelings toward Christians because we have repeatedly twisted and misrepresented their beliefs. Dyck points out, “the first step in defusing these negative feelings is to demonstrate a familiarity with their basic beliefs.” (p.121) We also need to demonstrate care for the environment. Finally in addition to praying for them, it’s important to share spiritual experiences. Those who leave the faith neo-pagan religions often complain that Christianity is a dry and boring religion. 5. Rebels This category basically describes the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. This is the person who rebels for hedonistic motives. Moral Compromise plays a real strong role in the Rebel. Reaching the Rebel: Dyck points out that, “decrying their sin is not only futile, but can be counterproductive.” (p.146) Instead, it’s important to speak to them about their relationship with God. Other suggestions include giving them a cause. Ray Rayborn, the founder of Young Life once said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.” Also look for “Moments of Heightened Receptivity,” in which we demonstrate he freedom and joy that comes from serving God…but above all it’s important to PRAY. 6. Drifters These are what Dyck calls, “Slow motion leavers,” they don’t, “exit in sudden spasms of skepticism or rebellion… instead they leave gradually…” (p.159) Reaching the Drifter: Dyck points out that sometimes the biggest danger to Christianity is Christians. We need to raise the bar and expose them to the demands and challenges of the Gospel. Too often we expect too little of one another when Jesus demanded it ALL! Deep down inside we all want to be challenged to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. The book was an easy read. It was especially engaging because it told the story of real people. I saw the book as a personal challenge for me to get out and actively live out and demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ. I especially liked the fact that the book didn’t just describe the problem, but gave some solutions in reaching out to the people that have left the faith. FTC Disclaimer. I received this book free in exchange for a unbiased review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Ask any denominational rep and you will hear pretty much the same thing: “That church is predominantly filled with adults who are in their 50’s and above.” Sometimes it’s “in their 60’s” and not so infrequently you will hear, “They are mostly in their 60’s to 80’s.” America’s Church is aging, across denominations and even among “non-denominational” churches. So this begs the question, “Where have all the young adults gone?” and “How do we get them back?” Drew Dyck’s book, Generation Ex-Christian, Ask any denominational rep and you will hear pretty much the same thing: “That church is predominantly filled with adults who are in their 50’s and above.” Sometimes it’s “in their 60’s” and not so infrequently you will hear, “They are mostly in their 60’s to 80’s.” America’s Church is aging, across denominations and even among “non-denominational” churches. So this begs the question, “Where have all the young adults gone?” and “How do we get them back?” Drew Dyck’s book, Generation Ex-Christian, http://amzn.to/fd0AGv seeks to explain exactly how to do that. Perhaps one startling quote will suffice for the yet unconvinced of the need to reach young adults. “The first indicators are church attendance and involvement. Here the statistics are grim. According to Rainer Research 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are twenty-two years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be ‘disengaged’ by the time they are twenty-nine years old. Unlike older church dropouts, these young ‘leavers’ are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community, such as home churches and small groups. When they leave the church, many leave the faith as well.” (17) While the reality of this quote is startling and can lead some to discouragement, Dyck’s book is amazingly encouraging. In his honest portrayal of the millennial generation (born in the late 70s and 80s), Dyck seeks to talk about the lost sheep of the flock and the Good Shepherd who longs for their return. Providing experience and insight, Drew writes of his own quest to understand and evangelize those who have left the Church and, many times, the faith. Several times in the book, the author reminds us that many of these young adults have had a shallow or superficial relationship with Christ. Sometimes, though, this is not the case. Some leavers have had a vibrant experience within their local faith congregation. Six broad categories of leavers are found in the book, which follows a repeated process: Identify the kind of leaver, explain what Drew’s interviews and research have discovered about the leavers, and then how to engage and, hopefully, draw them back to the faith. • Postmodern Leavers – These young adults have adopted a worldview that radically redefines truth, reason and reality. They hold that there is a different “truth” for each person. Key to understanding these leavers is that experience – not rationality – is the key to finding truth. They are also very concerned for the poor and disenfranchised, which they often feel is not a priority in the church. Dyck provides specific strategies to reach these wanderers, starting with telling your story and building trust. • Recoilers – Hurt and hard, these leavers have been injured by people “of faith” and disappointed by God. So, they have decided to step away from the pain – which makes sense. Reaching those in pain requires empathy. One must show they get the agony and still love the leaver. • Modern Leavers – These are young adults who have found the answers to their sincerely posed questions wanting. It may have been by well-intentioned, but not well-reasoned family and leaders, yet these leavers wanted better answers than they got. The militant atheistic world preyed on them and they are now entrenched; we have a clash of worldviews. Listening to and talking with them, knowing your subject well and being willing to challenge them to explain what they have left the faith for are all part of the strategy to re-engage and return the modern leaver. • Neo-Pagans – Wicca doubles approximately every 30 months, making it the nations fastest growing religion. Young adults are drawn to it because of its alignment with feminism, consumerism, secularism and the environmental movement. “It’s rare to meet a Wiccan who wasn’t raised in the church.” (115) Listening and praying, caring for the planet (a Genesis mandate) and sharing spiritual experiences are among the strategies Drew uses to bring these leavers back to Christ. • Rebels – Citing Andrew Palau’s story, rebels are simply drawn to “the warm waters of moral laxity.” Laying some of the blame on the “cruise ship” mentality of youth group growth, Dyck calls us back to the preventative of Biblical discipleship. For those already out the door, strategies include giving them a greater cause to live for and showing the rebel the prison of self they are locked in. Living out our dynamic freedom in Christ and the abundant joy only he can bring are key to drawing them back. • Drifters – In a Pew Forum study, 71% of those who departed from the faith, “just gradually drifted away from religion.” Drifters simply disengage quietly and few put in the effort to track them down, engage them relationally and pray for them passionately. When these three steps are reversed, drifters often reengage their faith and follow Christ again. Throughout the book, Dyck’s aim is to inform, explain and encourage the reader to pray, consider and reach out to those who have left the Church and the faith. This is a “must read” book for all who are in church leadership and are contemplating the missing harvest of 20- and 30-somethings. The Details: http://amzn.to/fd0AGv Generation Ex-Christian · Paperback: 208 pages · Publisher: Moody Publishers (October 1, 2010) · Language: English · ISBN-10: 0802443559 · ISBN-13: 978-0802443557 Dr. Matthew Lee Smith As a pastor, university professor, leadership consultant and author, I have been dedicated for over three decades to proclaiming the gospel and Encouraging Achievement in Godly Leaders by Emphasizing Servanthood (EAGLES). As founder and executive director of Eagles In Leadership, http://EaglesinLeadership.org I have taught leaders and followers of Christ across North America and Israel, as well as touching lives around the globe through blogs, interviews and the Transformed! podcast, hosted by Farpoint Media. I love good books, Starbucks coffee, cooking, and walking through live with ‘the joy of my eyes,’ Melodee Joy, my wife. My newest book is Growing Missional Leaders, Biblical Strategies to Reach Your World for Christ. http://amzn.to/i4WWuk

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    One of the better books I've read on modern thought regarding faith or "loss of faith when you never had it to begin with".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Interesting and a good read for those who are looking on a primer for opening dialogue, but direction is not deep.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter LeDuc

    You don't have to be in the church very long to realize that people of all ages are leaving the church on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. In this book, Dyck helps us to see that "deconversion" does not happen in a vacuum, rather, each "ex-Christian" has reasons for leaving that are unique to him/her. He encourages us to be prepared to give good answers to hard questions by putting away our assumptions, seeking to understand where these individuals are coming from, listening to their st You don't have to be in the church very long to realize that people of all ages are leaving the church on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. In this book, Dyck helps us to see that "deconversion" does not happen in a vacuum, rather, each "ex-Christian" has reasons for leaving that are unique to him/her. He encourages us to be prepared to give good answers to hard questions by putting away our assumptions, seeking to understand where these individuals are coming from, listening to their stories, empathizing with them, and above all, praying for them. When we take the time to listen, we will discover that there are different kinds of wanderers and prodigals, which Dyck breaks up into six groups—postmodern leavers, recoilers, modern leavers, Neo-pagans, rebels, and drifters. He goes on to show the obstacles to Christianity unique to each group and gives practical insight into how to best interact with them and beckon them to come home. Our goal should not be to win arguments in a momentary interaction, but to have the long view in mind where we help them to see the truth through loving relationships. I found the book particularly helpful to youth ministry—the struggle for these ex-Christians' souls fought on the anterior of this spiritual battle.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keith Shoulders

    This was an excellent read! I will have to order a second copy of this book to that I can share it with friends in the ministry, while at the same time keeping copy on my bookshelf. Dyck does an excellent job of getting into the minds of those who have left the faith. Ironically, the most helpful aspect of this work is his inclusion of copious accounts of people who left the faith and have not returned. I think if he had ended each of the examples or stories with stating that person X eventually This was an excellent read! I will have to order a second copy of this book to that I can share it with friends in the ministry, while at the same time keeping copy on my bookshelf. Dyck does an excellent job of getting into the minds of those who have left the faith. Ironically, the most helpful aspect of this work is his inclusion of copious accounts of people who left the faith and have not returned. I think if he had ended each of the examples or stories with stating that person X eventually came back then it would have left many of us feeling as though everyone who leaves is eventually coming back thereby hindering our sense of urgency for evangelism.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Yanka

    Lots of great info I enjoyed this book because it gives solid information on reasons why young people leave the faith and also identifies specific categories of leavers.. This is not a one size fits all book and provides help, but not easy answers. I think the subject of "how to bring them back" was not definitively answered. I think much of the information we need on that subject requires a deeper study. The best advice given was to keep communication open and pray, pray, pray!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Nordquist

    This book explained different reasons people leave the church today. It really helped me expand my view of evangelism and to see people as individuals with different needs. He doesn’t claim any special technique that guarantees results but he does say that through the Holy Spirit God can use us to clear a path for His people to return. He emphasizes our individual responsibility and mentions how the church (especially youth ministry) can make an impact. This is a good resource for anyone interes This book explained different reasons people leave the church today. It really helped me expand my view of evangelism and to see people as individuals with different needs. He doesn’t claim any special technique that guarantees results but he does say that through the Holy Spirit God can use us to clear a path for His people to return. He emphasizes our individual responsibility and mentions how the church (especially youth ministry) can make an impact. This is a good resource for anyone interested in evangelism.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daunavan Buyer

    This book was a good start to a very important conversation, it left me wanting more though. I wish that Drew had gone into more depth about some of the ways that we can engage with “leavers” - essentially the last chapter could have been a lot more... that said this book is crucially important to read as a starting point for this conversation.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim Mueller

    Great easy read, especially for those looking for an answers to help our youth Great book to help reverse the tide of millennial and generation z kids from leaving the church. A great resource for this purpose.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Bennett

    Thoughtful, helpful, and thoroughly researched, this is THE book for anyone mourning a prodigal in their life, or anyone interested in reaching "leavers" for Christ. I'm buying another copy for a friend whose daughter left the faith.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Duck makes some solid points while at times using faulty reasoning and / or sweeping over generalizations to get there. This is more frequent later in the book, leading to the distinct impression that for whatever reason he was rushed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Greco

    Dyck unpacks many of the reasons why folks leave church and sometimes, even the faith. I found it helpful though I wish he had gone a bit deeper into causality.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Clark

    Very good insight into the different reasons why young people are leaving the faith. Each section is a different category of leaver and ends with an example of someone he has personally encountered that fits into the specific category. The best takeaway from this book, and Paul said it best: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23International Standard Version (ISV) "19 Although I am free from everyone’s expectations, I have made myself a servant to all of them to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew Very good insight into the different reasons why young people are leaving the faith. Each section is a different category of leaver and ends with an example of someone he has personally encountered that fits into the specific category. The best takeaway from this book, and Paul said it best: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23International Standard Version (ISV) "19 Although I am free from everyone’s expectations, I have made myself a servant to all of them to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew in order to win Jews. To those under the Law I became like a man under the Law, in order to win those under the Law (although I myself am not under the Law). 21 To those who do not have the Law, I became like a man who does not have the Law in order to win those who do not have the Law. However, I am not free from God’s Law, but I’m subject to the Messiah’s[a] law. 22 To the weak I became weak in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some of them. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel in order to have a share in its blessings." We have to tailor our approach to the different types of leavers, without sacrificing our own convictions however, to win others to Christ.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I did learn from this book and it was engaging. I guess my biggest complaint with it is that most of the ex-Christians I know don't fit neatly into one single category. So when the author tries to provide some helpful ideas to entice an ex-Christian into a conversation about worldviews, it might not be as easily done as one would hope. While he did an excellent job of explaining why someone would fall into a particular category, it was a little lighter on the side of useful means to bring that n I did learn from this book and it was engaging. I guess my biggest complaint with it is that most of the ex-Christians I know don't fit neatly into one single category. So when the author tries to provide some helpful ideas to entice an ex-Christian into a conversation about worldviews, it might not be as easily done as one would hope. While he did an excellent job of explaining why someone would fall into a particular category, it was a little lighter on the side of useful means to bring that non-believer back into a dialogue. Overall, it was an interesting read, but maybe not as meaty as I hoped it would be.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robin Gough

    This book was very descriptive about those who have left the church - especially among millennials. However, it does come across as too simplistic or rather Dyck paints with a very wide brush. Yet, it is still worth the read for church leaders and those working with young adults.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tony Seel

    Pretty good analysis about young adults leaving the Christian faith and some practical pointers on how to help them find their way back.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Bukiewicz

  20. 5 out of 5

    AJ

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Couch

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Robertson

  24. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    Very informative. In depth but not overwhelming.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Richardson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anita

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dane

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Ferguson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Justin Edgar

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dave

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