Research indicates that about 5 out of every 10 high schoolers will walk away from the church and their faith after graduation. There are a variety of reasons a student might leave their faith behind:
- Other things simply become more important (driver’s license, dating relationship, etc.)
- Acquire a new group of friends that don’t desire to be a part of the church.
- Some simply experiment with straying from every opinion their parents hold in the quest for their own independence.
- Some never felt like they belonged to the church to begin with.
The Fuller Youth Institute, in their exhaustive, nationwide studies discovered the number one reason young people leave church and faith behind: the Church’s failure to engage difficult questions.
From the research, “Specifically, these young people cited the church’s failure to wrestle with issues like the reliability of the biblical text, sexuality, evolution versus creation, and the exclusivity of Jesus. But notice these students did not say they left the faith because of the stance of their church took on the issues above. They left because the church failed to address them at all. When tough questions were addressed, the answers were found to be vague and superficial.
Last week I gave 41 students a pen and a blank note card. I told them that as a church and as caring Christian adults we wanted to listen, validate, and attempt to answer any and all questions they had about faith, God, etc.
Our group comes from pretty diverse church backgrounds (wide-ranging denominational upbringings). We have a few students who are the only Christians in their family. We also have several atheists in our group as well as some who aren’t sure what they believe or why what one believes even matters.
These are their questions: (the last two were especially tough to read)
- Why are there poor, hungry, and thirsty people if God is real?
- Why do we not get what we need when we need it?
- Why do we have to struggle with things over and over again? Sometimes it feels like we have no help from God.
- How do we know someone didn’t just write down whatever they felt like in the Bible?
- Why does God let such bad things happen to good people?
- How can God be good if people who follow him get so down that they commit suicide?
- If God really wants us to follow him, why doesn’t he just make us? Why do we want other things more than him and why do some people never want to follow God?
- Why isn’t there more proof? It would be so much easier to believe if we had physical proof like the people in the Bible did.
- What do I have to do to go to heaven?
- How do I love people who are bad influences for me? I love my friends but I don’t love what they do and I worry about how that affects me.
- Why does God seem to punish people who don’t deserve it?
- I feel like I only believe in God because I’m scared of hell. Is that wrong?
- When you get saved, is there a chance you can still go to hell? P.S. I don’t want to go to hell.
- Can I be a Christian and believe in evolution?
- Why doesn’t God help when you’re going through a rough patch and you pray and pray and nothing happens, nothing gets easier?
- Can you have faith in more than one thing, more than one god?
- How come Christians are able to forgive so easily?
- How do I know my faith is true and real? How can someone restore their faith?
- I have heard that God is with me but why does it sometimes feel like I’m all alone?
- Does God stay in your life even if you do a really bad sin?
- How do I get away from pornography?
- Why can’t God simply speak when we need him the most? How are we supposed to know what we wants us to do?
- Is sex outside marriage really wrong? If so, why?
- Can you go to heaven if you are not baptized?
- What happens when you die? Like right after you die, when your brain stops, what do you see or think or remember?
- Is it possible to grow your faith, to get stronger in your relationship with God?
- How can I get better at spreading the word in my school?
- Do people always have doubts about God? I believe in him but I sometimes feel guilty about doubting.
- Why did God not just make everything perfect?
- How did different races exist if everyone came from God?
- Can people believe in God and be gay at the same time?
- Why do some people who claim to believe in God not ever go to church?
- Does faith in God require me to be a good person?
- Why is lust bad?
- Why don’t we ever have to be physically punished for our sin? The pain Jesus went through on the cross seems so unfair.
- What do I do when it feels like Jesus shouldn’t forgive me? I know he does but it sometimes feels like I don’t deserve it.
- Why did God make us?
- Do you need to ask Jesus for forgiveness more than once?
- If God wanted us to choose his way, why did he make it so difficult?
- Why would someone pay attention to the Christians when there’s so many different groups of them and they hardly seem to agree on anything?
- Why do some people hide behind religious cliches instead of trying to wrestle with real questions?