Christian Youth In America Are Leaving the Church

Dr. Frank Turek | June 20, 2013

We have a problem in America: 

  • 70-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school (see survey data at Barna and USA Today).
  • Christian youth in America are not being taught to cross-examine the skeptical and atheistic views they encounter when they leave home.
  • More than half of all college professors view evangelical Christian students unfavorably (see article at Free Republic).
  • College professors are five times more likely to identify themselves as atheists than the general public.
  • Christian students are not equipped to resist rabidly anti-Christian college professors who are intent on converting their students to atheism.
  • The “new atheists” — Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens — are writing books and are growing in popularity.

“Dad, I’m not sure I believe in God anymore”

—   by Frank Turek

My friend never thought he would hear those words. After all, he’s a well-known pastor with a large church and an international ministry. Yet, after just one year of college, his own daughter doubted nearly everything he tried to instill in her for eighteen years. “I now realize that I didn’t do a good job showing her why Christianity is true,” he told me. “Now, it might be too late. “He’s not the only parent or pastor who’s failed to provide sound answers to young people. There are plenty of examples:

  • Anna, a pastor’s daughter, became an agnostic at UNC Chapel Hill.
  • Steve, son of a famous Christian, renounced biblical morality at Elon.
  • John, a high school worker for Campus Crusade, became an atheist after reading a Richard Dawkins’ book on atheism.

In fact, the problem is at epidemic levels — 75% of young adults raised in a Christian home leave the church after they leave the home. Think about that — on average, three out of every four kids attending your youth group won’t be attending any church a few years from now.

Are You Paying for Atheism? 

“Children spend the majority of their waking hours in school. Parents invest a good portion of their life savings in college education and entrust their offspring to people who are supposed to educate them. Isn’t it wonderful that educators have figured out a way to make parents the instruments of their own undoing? Isn’t it brilliant that they have persuaded Christian moms and dads to finance the destruction of their own beliefs and values? Who said atheists aren’t clever?”

– Dinesh D’Souza

What’s so great about Christianity? 

Why are they leaving? 

Some think church is irrelevant. Others, out on their own for the first time, are attracted by all the world has to offer and put God on the back burner. Yet many leave because they’ve come to doubt Christianity. In fact, intellectual skepticism is a major reason cited by those who have left. Now less than one percent of adults in America have a Biblical worldview!

We can lay the blame for much of this on ourselves — that is, on the church. While there are notable exceptions, most American churches over-emphasize emotion and ignore the biblical commands to develop the mind (1 Pet 3:15, 2 Cor. 10:5). In other words, we’re doing a great job performing for our youth with skits, bands and videos, but a terrible job informing them with logic, truth, and a Christian worldview. We’ve failed to recognize that what we win them with we win them to. If we win them with emotion, we win them to emotion.

Now, I don’t want to discount the importance of emotion. If the Bible is true (as we show in the seminar), then God does want us to love Him with all of our hearts. But He also wants us to love Him with our minds (Mt. 22:37). Christians don’t get Brownie points for being stupid! We’re supposed to know what we believe and why we believe it. And for good reason — emotion alone is not enough to protect Christian students at college or make them bold witnesses for those they meet. If they arrive at college with nothing more than good sentimental feelings about Christ, they are easy prey for anti-Christian professors and a campus environment intent on undermining their faith.

So what’s the solution? 

The good news is that we can do something about it! Start by reading our Solution page, and then browse the CrossExamined site for more information about how we’re helping young people understand and defend why the Christian faith is true and reasonable, and how you can help. — Dr. Frank Turek, Founder and President

Our mission at is to equip high school and college students to know why Christianity is true, how to defend it, and how to tactfully refute those who try to corrupt them.

Please browse the CrossExamined site to see how we are doing that and how you can help. Thanks!

– Dr. Frank Turek, Founder & President