Review: Generation Ex-Christian

Let’s talk about Drew Dyck’s book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith… And How to Bring them Back.

As a former youth pastor, I heard the stat over and over again: “70% of young people leave the church by the time they’re 22.” But why? This book sheds some light on this question. Through a number of personal interviews, Dyck discovered 6 kinds of people who’ve abandoned their Christian backgrounds:

#1. The Postmodern

This is the “That’s true for you, but not for me” kind of crowd. Still, they love to hear about honest experiences. So share your story, but keep it real. He gives a good reminder not to approach them like they’re into logic, reasons or science.  Save your theistic arguments for later.

#2. The Recoliers

People who’ve been hurt by Christians and feel like it’s all God’s fault. They might bring up intellectual challenges even though they left for emotional reasons. Empathy’s a big need here. Show them how God really wants Christians to relate to hurting people. Again, save the theistic arguments for later.

#3. Modern Leavers

Some people do leave because of problems with ideas that don’t make sense to them. Many atheists like to talk about reasons, evidence and logic. Your theistic arguments will be a lot more useful with people described here.

#4. Neo-Pagans

Wiccans. I’ve got a relative who’s a Wiccan and I found this section interesting. Dyck says Wiccans benefit from seeing Christians pray, and he suggests sharing your spiritual experiences with them. Incidentally, the book I recommend for those who want to understand Wiccans is Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca (by my former professor, Craig Hawkins).

#5. Rebels

This describes one of my good friends really well; a guy who left his Christian background for the party scene or another form of outright hedonism. Dyck shows how some of this can be traced to popular trends which began in the 80s and continues today:

As we fired up the fun in youth ministry, we watered down the gospel…That mentality has actually led to entertainment numbness and resulted in a boring gospel. Somehow we thought we could water down the message for young people and make it easier for them to swallow, but it turns out that they’re choking on our concoction (148-149).

If it weren’t for the grace of God, I might have gone this way myself. I like his point here:

They don’t want pizza and video games…They want a cause to live and die for. In other words, they want the true gospel (150).

#6. Drifters

Some leave gradually. They went to church cause everyone else did. As everyone else drifted away, they left, too. Again, I found myself going, “He’s describing another realtive.” Dyck says to invite them back, challenge them and connect them to real relationships in the church.

As someone who’s currently involved in a church plant doing multi-generational ministries, I loved this insight:

Young people who had relationships to older Christians, whether their parents or other faithful congregants, were far less likely to abandon their faith in their twenties (177).

My only caution would be to remember that people aren’t always going to fit into these little categories. But understanding some of these broad themes will no doubt assist you as an ambassador of Jesus.

I enjoyed this book and suggest you check it out. It’s an easy read at just under 200 pages.
Look inside the book on Amazon.com 

Note: I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Purchasing resources through the links on this page will help support my apologetics ministry.

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7 Responses to “Review: Generation Ex-Christian”

  1. Taber's Truths Christian Blog June 28, 2011 8:53 AM
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    Great post. He is so right about the need for young people to have a cause. And all the points on how to reach the different types of people are valid. I also have had to deal with wiccan’s and they are experiential in their orientation so yes prayer is a key, that and showing kingdom power that God is real.

  2. Lisa June 28, 2011 8:59 AM
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    “As we fired up the fun in youth ministry, we watered down the gospel…That mentality has actually led to entertainment numbness and resulted in a boring gospel. Somehow we thought we could water down the message for young people and make it easier for them to swallow, but it turns out that they’re choking on our concoction (148-149).”

    Sadly, I see this in our own church. The kids who come from non-christian households that attend frequently comment that coming to church is not a big deal because it’s ‘just like going to an afterschool activity, with all the gosip, games, food and pairing off’.

    There’s a ‘fear’ that by giving these kids the whole gospel, mentoring them and helping them to ‘walk the walk’ that it will frightened many of them away.

    • Apologetics Guy June 28, 2011 12:59 PM
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      Great observation. I’m a former youth pastor and I know what you’re talking about. We don’t help anyone by taking the guts out of the gospel. If Christianity doesn’t offer anything more than the world is selling us, then “whatever.” Right? What’s the big deal? Let’s not compete on the same level as the shallow stuff. Let’s be up front about what Jesus claims, commands and in fact demands. Thanks for the comment, Lisa!

  3. Apologetics Guy June 28, 2011 7:14 PM
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    Thanks for dropping me a comment here, Duke. Dyck mentions a lot of young Wiccans he interviewed came from a Christian background. But I’ve found the opposite—almost every Wiccan I know doesn’t have a Christian background. Maybe the greater Sacramento are is different. I do agree that Wiccans need to understand the power of God. They also need to meet more Christians who will love them and treat them as Jesus would.

  4. MJ IntelliChristian July 21, 2011 1:26 AM
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    I helped teaching a Sunday School class last year. We did like an hour and half Bible discussion, and a few songs at the beginning. That was a class of 10-year-olds. I first thought, how could you preach at these kids for the whole time? They would be bored! To my surprise, they actually listened to the end. Not just that, they were asking such meaningful questions at the end of the lessons, I had no doubt they were listening and ‘getting’ what we were saying. Then at our youth services, the minute it starts being not entertaining enough, people just get up and leave. I used to blame that on the culture, but I’m beginning to think there’s a different cause now. Maybe we teach kids to be bored at church. I’m glad more and more Christian leaders are beginning to realize that, I’ve seeing some positive moves in that area. Let’s keep going.

  5. Noel December 28, 2011 6:40 PM
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    Hello, don’t know which one I would fall under, but I consider myself a Reflective Christian who has been slowly drifting away from the religious aspect of Christianity, and embracing a more inclusive, flexible, profound approach to seek God. Interesting blog. I may continue to keep browsing.

  6. Apologetics Guy December 28, 2011 7:56 PM
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    Hi, Noel. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Not everybody is going to fall neatly into the categories in this book, but it’s good to examine your own personal reasons for drifting. I hope you find some of my articles helpful. God bless you, Noel.