How many “deconverts” do you know? These are people who previously were active Christians but who have left the faith. Most are young but not all. Roughly two thirds grew up in religious homes. They are growing in numbers. Most never return to the faith.
These conclusions come from a fascinating and superbly written new book, Generation EX-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring Them Back. Author Drew Dyck, focuses on former Christians (not only on Generation-X), summarizes recent research, and describes his interviews with people who have moved away from Christianity. The book identifies six kinds of leavers:
- Postmodern leavers include many of the estimated 80 percent of those reared in the church that will be “disengaged” by the time they reach 29. Most have concluded that they don’t need God any more, don’t embrace Christian morality, reject the Christian worldview and criticize Christian indifference to the poor and disenfranchised.
- Recoilers withdraw because they’ve been hurt by Christians they trusted or are disappointed with a God who seemingly let them down.
- Modern leavers are the thinkers who like empirical evidence and debate about whether Christianity makes logical sense. Many are impacted by recent books that argue in favor of atheism.
- Neo-pagans are fascinated with various spiritualities, especially Wicca (witchcraft), one of the fastest growing religions in America. This rarely involves Satan worship but can include worship of mother earth, ecology, and participation in various rituals and spells.
- Rebels resist the confines of religion, especially the ethical and moral restraints that dampen hedonistic lifestyles.
- Drifters just move away. They stop going to church, praying, or thinking much about Christian beliefs. Many still identify themselves as Christians but their values, attitudes and lifestyles have drifted far from God.
This book is a guide to the varieties of unbelief in a postmodern era. It includes realistic, sensitive and practical guidelines for connecting with ex-Christians. It has significant implications for those who coach, counsel, lead or teach. Can you see which of these six ways of leaving could pull you away?
How might this apply to your work, your family, your clients or your life? Please comment.