Thousands of viewers and listeners tuned in to a webcast Tuesday evening to hear Christian apologists tackle the pervasive problem of youths leaving the church.
Guests on the American Family Association broadcast, “Church Dropout: Overcoming the Youth Exodus,” agreed that young people were quitting the faith because of intellectual skepticism.
"One of the major reasons is intellectually they don't know why Christianity is true," said apologist Frank Turek, founder of Crossexamined.org, "because we haven't told them why it's true."
Citing surveys by The Barna Group and LifeWay Research, Turek says that about three in four youths who are brought up in the church walk away from the church after high school. And the problem exists across denominations "from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal and everything in between," he said.
Christian leaders have for years sounded the alarm on the church dropout rate among young people. LifeWay Research explored in 2007 some of the reasons why there has been and continues to be such a large exodus. One in five surveyed young adults said they wanted to take a break from church once they finished high school.
Responding to the excuse, Turek said students are likely to think college is "a good time to put God on the back burner" because they are on their own for the first time and "don't really want to live like a Christian" during their college years.
"Sometimes I want a break too, but I don't stay away for four years," he commented.
But the high dropout rate doesn't apply only to those who go off to a bigger campus after receiving their high school diploma. The problem is also rampant among those who do not go to college, Turek noted.
The problem and the solution lie in churches.
"I think that if more churches actually taught people the truth and challenged them with truth they would stay engaged," said the Crossexamined.org founder. "But they're not staying engaged because we're feeding them cotton candy."
Rejecting "easy believism" and entertainment, Turek called churches to ground young people in the truth. Otherwise, they'll search for it elsewhere.
Turek visits campuses and churches across the country and in Canada, laying out the root of the problem and equipping believers with a solution. The apologist believes most American churches over-emphasize emotion while ignoring the biblical command to develop the mind. Many churches fail at presenting logic, truth and a Christian worldview.
"Christians don't get Brownie points for being stupid! We're supposed to know what we believe and why we believe it," he maintains. "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."
During Tuesday's webcast and radio show, Turek – along with renowned apologist Dr. William Lane Craig, Dr. Bill Dembski (a leader in the Intelligent Design movement), Dr. Mike Adams (Christian professor at University of North Carolina Wilmington), and apologist Josh McDowell – presented evidence for why Christianity is true. The aim of the program was to equip churches and young people with truths and ultimately help reverse the dropout trend.