10 Reasons Kids Leave the Church

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 Of all the hats I wear in life, the one I enjoy most may be that of “dad.”

As much fun as Trent, Troy, and I have together, whether it’s camping or just throwing the ball around, not a day goes by that I don’t give serious thought to how my wife, Jean, and I are leading them spiritually. In the grand scheme of things, we only a have a short window to help them build a solid biblical foundation before they launch out on their own.

If you’re a parent, I’m guessing you’re well aware of how challenging that can be. Even the statistics bear out the struggle we face. The exact percentages are up for debate, but we know that a significant number of kids walk out the church doors after high school graduation and never return.

Why?

Well, the specific reasons depend on which study you read, but most of them point out how adults fail to connect teenagers to God’s redemptive work in meaningful ways. A recent example of this comes from a website designed for workers in church leadership. The article’s author , Marc5Solas, lives in a college town. He interviewed a large number of twenty-somethings to get their take on why Christianity is no longer important to them and boiled down what he learned into ten reasons you might find interesting.

Take a look and see what you think:

10. The church is “relevant.”

Normally, “relevant” is a positive term. In this case, it labels the problem. We’ve couched our faith in modern trappings to the point that 2,000 years of history and rich tradition have been diminished. As the article suggests: “What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize to. In our effort to be ‘like them,’ we’ve become less of who we actually are.”

9. They got into church, but the church never got into them. 

Many young adults may have been taken to church by their parents, but the church wasn’t integrated into the fabric of their lives. Church was a Sunday event, not something that impacted the everyday realities of their lives.

8. They were treated as smart by others.

Many students interviewed felt they were spoon-fed a Christian worldview, while professors and others who held atheist viewpoints challenged their intellect and inspired them to ask questions and to use their mind.

7. They were sent out unarmed.

Many youth have mastered Christian lingo – the pithy catchphrases spoken regularly in churches and marketed through popular evangelical campaigns – but they’re ignorant of deeper theological truths. They know what “WWJD?” means, and they’re familiar with how to “invite Jesus into your heart,” but they can’t explain what atonement or justification means or its relevance to life’s realities.

 6. They’ve been given a “hand-me-down” religion.

Many kids leave the church feeling like they’ve been asked to accept their parents’ faith, instead of encouraged to ask tough questions, so they can incorporate Christianity into their lives and make it their own.

5. They exchange one community for another.

Our modern faith sometimes places a greater emphasis on community than on God. As a result, many of today’s youth see other people as the answer to their problems instead of God. When they leave home, they often seek out a community of people of any belief system rather than one committed to the God of the Bible.

4. They seek opportunities to “feel” better.

Much of modern Christianity is based on “feeling,” rather than on objective, eternal truth. It reduces the Christian faith to a search for good feelings rather than exhortation to conform our human nature to God’s standard of righteousness.

3. They got tired of pretending.

Some segments of Christianity suggest that being a Christian removes all struggle from life. But that message rings hollow for many kids who try to serve God and continue to face difficult challenges … or who see their parents teach a similar message while succumbing to anger or depression themselves. Many youth feel Christianity leaves no room for authenticity.

2. Christianity is reduced to “do/don’t do” instead of “be.”

Many church kids were taught it’s all about what they do, not who they are. The Christian faith was reduced to a long list of do’s and don’ts. They felt trapped beneath the weight of their own abilities, instead of freed by the work only God can do in their hearts and lives.

1. They don’t need it.

When church is perceived as nothing more than a place to learn good principles for living, or to have a happy marriage, or well-behaved kids… Well, you can find that in most any self-help book. You don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. What kids need is the gospel; what they’re sometimes given is “a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before.”

These findings challenged me. For one thing, I think it’s important to listen carefully to those we’re trying to reach, even when what they say isn’t so easy to hear. Only when we dig beneath a person’s words can we hear the true cries of their hearts.

I should add that I have the utmost admiration for pastors and youth workers, who are often lone voices, speaking truth into the lives of young people against a cacophony of noise from the culture. Add in limited budgets and time constraints and reaching young people for Christ is often an uphill battle indeed. I feel confident that most churches are doing everything they can to minister to young and old alike in their community.

And what about us parents? Well, articles like this that suggest how much may be amiss in the spiritual lives of today’s youth can certainly be daunting. As such, it’s always wise to be aware of our kids’ struggles and to make adjustments as necessary. But it’s just as important to remember that our kids are ultimately in the Lord’s hands. Strip away all the research and facts and figures, and underneath is this bedrock of Truth:

God has called us to rely on His grace to do the very best we can and to trust Him with the rest.

I’d like to hear what you think.

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ShayShay Smith 10 months ago
I have struggled with every one of those. Im 21 and I am still in church but I don't want to be. 
Fotf Moderator-Team 10 months ago
Thanks for your honesty, friend.  We can't pretend to know your exact situation, but we do know you're not alone!  

If you're interested, our Boundless site has some articles that might help: http://bit.ly/1lruIKG, http://bit.ly/1kQHRNb, http://bit.ly/1kQI574.  Otherwise, feel free to give us a call at 800/A-FAMILY and ask to speak with a chaplain.  They'd be happy to hear you out and may be able to answer some questions.  

God bless you!
chad finck More than 1 year ago

as a Godly parent my heart yearns for my children as all Godly parents do.  i take my lead from the Holy Spirit and pray that God will bless me with His Holy Spirit guidance in all that i do.  this includes the most special gift of my children.  if i can be the face of God to them, if i can be the voice of God to them, if i can raise them up in the ways of the Lord then by the grace of God they will know the goodness and love that God has for them and for all mankind.  Going to church is another leg on the Christian stool of faith but it starts at home with all of us Godly parents following the Lords will in our lives and in the lives of our children.  it is foolish to believe that it is the churches responsibility to keep our kids living a faithful life.  they are a tool in Gods hands to help.  

i do like the comments about having our children go to a college that has a Christian environment.  i would not send my kids to a bar because that is not where the will learn Godly ways...  think about it.

Jaime Renville More than 1 year ago

Thanks for your comments, DBurke.  We couldn't agree more about the importance of giving our young people tools to strengthen and defend their faith.  We encourage you to visit our TrueU site, http://www.trueu.org/ , to check out some curriculum we've developed with this in mind.  Blessings, friend!

Pam meyer More than 1 year ago

Great article! I see so many kids who tell me # 1. It just doesn't matter to them, they don't need it. Also have heard a lot about the pretending and fakiness of the Christians they know.

Sabrina Haid More than 1 year ago

I have 3 teenagers.  All three of them grew up in church and I am a professional Children & Family Minister.  None of my children are in an organized church right now.  All of them providing excellent reason why.  I have always taught my children that the church is an extension of  my teaching -- that it is my responsibility as their parent to make sure they receive proper biblical training including biblical truths, memorization, being able to handle "meat" and the wisdom to make choices and decisions based on the Bible.  MY responsibility not the church's.  When they individually came to me to discuss the possibility of them not attending (this was over a long period of time and many conversations - not a one time thing) most of their complaints were the hypocrisy they saw in behavior (especially from the adults in authority positions), how the things the church was doing / not doing looked nothing like the church described in Acts 2, and how they were personally treated.   After these were brought to my attention, I took the time to observe and realized that the church was teaching exactly the opposite of what I was trying to instill in my children.  I thank God frequently for His hand in opening their eyes as well as mine.

Though we do not attend a local, organized church, we do meet regularly with other Christians who have run into similar issues.  I believe this is better for my children than any local church in America today.

Rosang Puii More than 1 year ago

@MeLoux: Thanks for your suggestion regarding the print option.  Know that we've passed it along to our development team. Blessings!

Kimberly Belgarde More than 1 year ago

Dear Slmynatt, (posted April 17, @ 4pm)

Why not encourage your daughter to join a group of older godly women that could teach and train her as it says in Titus 2:3-5.  I would guess that she receives enough peer interaction at college.  It is always an encouragement for me as a young women to have time with the older godly women in my life.  I know it will be a blessing to her as well.  

Michael Loux More than 1 year ago

Would like to see a print function added to these blogs?

David Jones More than 1 year ago

Been working with High School Seniors for 6 years for this very reason.  Whether off to Christian or Secularly based college, results delta between the two is insignificant.  It's not just church attendance, but the overall priority of the believer's walk once they leave high school.  In short, 1) their faith must be their own; 2) most don't know why they believe what they believe or are supposed to believe (yes even those from Christian academies, though they can give the answers) to include church attendance; 3) many are more like Christian groupies than believers in Jesus Christ; 4) ill-prepared for the dramatic and often traumatic changes in all aspects of life after high school; 5)  high school programs demand greater accountability and responsibility than youth ministries; 6) church programs for college aged adults follow suit to #5; 7) quote from high school students: "same messages we heard in children's sunday school."  8) as one stated earlier, our churches should be true sanctuaries, not an extension of society.  9) parents spend more time encouraging, investing and preparing for careers and sports than the believer's walk.  The walk is preached as an addendum to what we do, not a reflection of who we are and the most important aspect of our life.

Concerning church attendance, the answer is simple, based on why parents will return to church once the marriage is in trouble and/or they have children.  Let's face it, after "to 'worship' God", everything is about us and what we can get out of church.  Challenge yourself or your study group to list the reasons you go to church.  Bet you'll find the overwhelming majority is about us:  teaching, fellowship, food, encouragement, support, and yes ministering to others.  All of these are biblical, but the priority is off.  Guess what?  All of these can be found outside the church.  But believers know church is important to God, otherwise He wouldn't have put such an emphasis on our gathering together.  So what is important to God, should be important to use.  By doing what is important to God, we are loving Him (John 14-16).  And by loving God, we are fulfilling the first and greatest commandment (Matt 22:38-39).  Yet, "liken unto it", is equally important.  We should not be going to church for ourselves, but God and others.  God won't care about our worship if we're not loving on others, just like if we spend all our time on others and never giving Him full attention.  So we should show up no matter what with eyes off ourselves and trust God with our own needs while we love Him and love others.  If we truly fulfilled this, our barns couldn't hold the harvest.  Allow me also address our behavior based on attitude.  "Come just as you are" has turned into "Come however you want".  There are no expectation of manners.  We come before our supposed Holy, Almighty God like it ain't no big thing.  We stroll in and out of service or study time with no regard for anyone or whatever is going on.  Do you really think when the King of Kings appears, we'll be taking sips of coffee between our "hallelujahs"?  

If our children understood this and saw a true passion in us for church, maybe they would be more apt to make church attendance a true priority once they move on to college or elsewhere.

Thanks for reading and keep praying. . .

Dustin Burke More than 1 year ago

I have read the article three times: once for structure, once for substance, and the third time for purpose.  After the final reading, I’m perplexed.  The author bookends his writing with plugs about being a dad, equates leaving the church with an abandonment of Christianity, and pretty much ends it with “Oh, well.  We’re doing the best we can.”  The writer may have good intentions, but he is far from compelling.  That’s because he really hasn’t asked the reader to do anything.  

I’ve also ready the comments.  Many blame secular schools for challenging the faith of their children.  My question is:  Why isn’t the church challenging their faith?  Asking the hard questions?  Rather than teaching church-going children to simply regurgitate catchy slogans, teach them how to reason out God’s word.  Most reputable college professors, if not all, will require students to reason through their studies.  They’re required to dig deep when considering  financial statements, works of literature, science formulas, and sociology problems.  After 18 years in the church, our kids should have a Ph.D. in Jesus, but they don’t.  If we do not challenge our children to carefully examine the spirit and letter of the Book, they will give mental assent while in our households but it will not come alive in their heart.  They will be as the seeds that fell along the path where the birds came and ate them up.

Dar Melcher More than 1 year ago

From all the above "reasons", it seems that the problem is that we are not effectively communicating that God is real- that a relationship with Him is really possible, that He is more than enough for all we need, that He is thrilling and answers the questions deep inside for all the longings we find there. Seems we are not leading our children into real relationships with Jesus, Himself. And, honsetly, there is only so much that parents/leaders can do...really it is God working in their hearts. We must pray, pray, PRAY! And we must be as transparent as possible. Maybe our kids don't want to keep going to church because we don't have good reasons for going. Maybe tradition and not love for the Body is our reason. Maybe good appearances and not humble, corporate worship is our real motivation. This is a good reminder that the issues that we don't really deal with in our own hearts really do affect others.

Michael Leberte More than 1 year ago

When you say "leave the church" - is that a euphemism for "losing their faith"?  

The visible "church as we know it" is not the faith.

The things that are seen are perishing.

The things that are unseen are eternal.

The scriptures are only a sample of the relationships with YHWH and are only examples for us. The relationship with YHWH shared from parent to child is the original design, but was damaged by Adams sin.

Now we have the Holy Spirit to lead us and our children into all truth.

Joh 16:12  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Joh 16:13  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Joh 16:14  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Shalom!

Steven Bolting More than 1 year ago

The message of salvation is very sobering.  Are people comfortable with church leadership calling on God's Holy Spirit to bring the congregation, including the children, under conviction about their sin through the proper reading and interpretation of Biblical Scripture?  For the most part: no.  The focus is on "fun", and as the child matures the lure of "fun" will loose the attraction to keep them in the church. Jesus Christ did not come to establish amusement activities.  He came to pay the eternal debt of our sin that separates us from God the Father, and He has a mission for each of us.  That is what will keep the children from leaving the church as they grow up, because they see God has a purpose for them, and they have an obligation to Him to fulfill it.  

Robyn Jara More than 1 year ago

As a child that was brought up in the church, I can relate to all of those reasons above.  My sisters and I have left the church at one point in our lives and we are preacher's kids!  However, even though our stay away varied for each of us, you can now find us in our respective churches today.  I guess my point is even though we left, thank God for giving us parents who may not have "perfectly" laid the foundation, may not have found the "perfect" church, may not have been the "perfect" examples, they laid the foundation nonetheless and even though our departure caused them sadness and even with some of us anxiety, they prayed continually and left things in God's Hands.  And from my personal viewpoint, even though I had strayed, thank God He never let me go.  He was never far from my mind or my heart.  As a parent now, the best I can do is find every opportunity to help my child know the Word of God and recognize His voice.  I can show her that even through my faults and  shortcomings, God grace gives me hope.  My child has since entered teenhood, and all the drama that entails, but the best thing I can do is pray for her, encourage her to pray and ensure that  we can always openly discuss feelings, point of views, etc.  

Robert Sievert More than 1 year ago

The sad thing is that the very thing that young people want and need these days- truth, meaning and community- are not being given by the typical youth ministry of the Church. Yet, only as a follower of Jesus will someone find the answers to the questions of life: What is real (worldview)? What is true (belief)? What is good (ethics)? How then shall I live (behavior)?  All must be addressed by a follower of Jesus. I believe that young people are up to the challenge - but only if the party music is turned down and they're given a chance to question and think.

s uemura More than 1 year ago

well stated.  i agree that so much importance is placed on feeling good that most forget that it is necessary to feel badly about sin.  dismissing it does not make for eternal "happy."  as parents we shall often be disappointed, but we must speak truth no matter how unpleasant it is, confess swiftly if we have made an error and resist trying to be our children's best friends.  we are their parents; and, if we trust our Lord, we accept how He orchestrates the outcome of any situation.  i would much prefer a sleek, smooth, silky road to eternity as a parent; but i can only do the best i can as a flawed individual and leave each child in God's hands.  He does a great job when we fit into His plans and avoid telling Him how to fit into ours.  our church will be the reflection of all of us together.  it starts with us being accountable to teach our children accountability; and we show them how to humbly enjoy rewards and how to accept consequences gracefully.  after that, their free will kicks in and we pray.

Debbie Walmsley More than 1 year ago

When our kids were in high school, my husband felt that they needed to hear his story of how he came to know the Lord. We can't assume that they know our conversion story by osmosis. They need to hear of how God changed our hearts. Both of our girls gave their lives to Christ and are married to godly men. They are raising their kids to love God. Both of them, and their spouses, are active in their churches. I feel so humbled by such a blessing.

McKissick Sherri More than 1 year ago

I am so thankful for the denomination that our family is in because kids are taught the whole Bible (Old and New Testament) and the summary of the Bible through the Westminster Catechism.  My children who are high school and college age have the opportunity to go to a week-end retreat about every other month where they have great speakers and are given the opportunity to ask deep questions about their faith.  My husband and I were raised in families where our fathers took time each day to have family worship (even though we were in different denominations at the time).  My husband has been faithful to lead our family in family worship most evenings of the week.  We pick a book of the Bible and then read one chapter each evening (sometimes only a half a chapter, if it is late), have a short discussion, sing a Psalm and then take turns praying (or one person prays). I think it is meaningful to the children to hear their father or another family member pray for them.  We talk about our faith all the time and try to live it out (when we fail/sin we seek forgiveness of God and the one we sinned against.  All 3 of my kids love the Lord Jesus and the two that are college age continue to attend church.  I want to encourage families to read the Bible and pray together regularly.  Help your children see how applicable God's Word and ways are to their lives!  Parents, live out your faith before your children!  Don't give up!

Lynne Harris More than 1 year ago

It is interesting to see that many of the comments posted address the problem as seen through the eyes of adults/parents/grandparents who are no longer actually the ones experiencing the issue first hand.

I appreciate understand and value the 10 reasons given by the group of young people interviewed.

I do not think there is a catch all answer.

It was an eye-opener to see, though, that not one of the 10 reasons mentioned "there isn't enough anti-evolution teaching in the church" but there WAS "we were spoon fed a Christian worldview" and, once out in the world they met people who " inspired them to ask questions and to use their mind."

Maybe youth groups could do with teaching/exposing kids to ALL IDEAS regarding how God might have created the World, and at the end of the day, what is important is not HOW but WHY?

For my own part, I kept going to Church as a child and a teen because I had friends there, it was a fun social group and I believed Jesus was my friend and saviour, and valued the teaching. I stopped when at college because I was sleeping with my boyfriend, and I felt judged (rightly or wrongly) by the established church. I began to attend Church once my boyfriend and I were married. Not once during the time I was not attending did I think "I dont think Jesus loves me any more", but I didn't think the Church would.

Mitchell Mitch More than 1 year ago

There's another reason not addressed here, and I say this as a spiritual, born-again, tithing member of my local church: I just don't like gatherings with other people.  I never have.  I attend church because my wife wants to, and as spiritual head of household I want my kids growing up in a churched environment.  I think it is a very positive thing, but that's the only reason I go.  I'm Christian in every way, and I attend church out of respect for my wife, but I don't really enjoy it, and socializing and small talk are exhausting for me.  I teach in the children's program and I love what I do, but when my kids are older I won't volunteer.  This isn't hypocritical, in NO other areas of my life do I seek out fellowship with other people, not professionally, not for hobbies, nothing.  I'm just not that kind of guy, I never have been.  I get most of my extra-biblical teaching through Christian talk radio and websites like this one.

This isn't an insult to the church!  If someone were to ask me what could they do that I would want to, look forward to, make it a priority to attend, the answer is nothing.  The people in my church are great people, and I support them prayerfully and financially.  I'm glad the church is there.

The Lord has richly blessed my life with full health, ample income and employment, and a beautiful wife and family.  I suppose it is out of obedience to Him that I betray my introvert nature and attend church.  And perhaps someone may think that I'll change, but I've been a tithing member of the church over 10 years, and I haven't changed yet.  Some people just aren't church going people, and I'm one of them.

Deborah Glasscock More than 1 year ago

Churches are not tasked with raising spiritual and godly kids rather parents are:

" Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deut. 6:4-9).

Talking with your children, rather than at them, about the relevance of God's commandments as you go about life together is the picture here. Today's society presents many challenges, because children are not as involved in daily life with their parents as they were in the agrarian societies of old. Parents modeling love for God and their fellow man will naturally love their children and delight in teaching them what are relevant truths and life principles.

Still, there are no guarantees that your child will not first stray before returning to the eternal principles that govern life. Scriptural examples abound, e.g., the prodigal son, the two sons sent to work in the father's field of whom one said "Yes, father, I will go" and didn't, while the other said "No, I won't!" but later went, etc. Compliance is often inversely correlated with true conviction.

My son in 8th grade stated, "I'm the kind of kid that has to touch the stove to make sure its really hot, but then I learn." Scary to stand on the sidelines and watch, and yes, burns leave scars, but it is the eternal soul that matters here.

Finally, I would leave off with Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

alissa conant More than 1 year ago

We are a young couple with small children and have been in the process of looking for a new church home.  I am astounded at the conversations about why these traditional churches are stripped of the younger generations.  Things like gay marriage are brought up (if I was gay I would be mortified-I'm completely straight and I still cringe-why are we talking about our sexuality with complete strangers?  This smacks of woman caught in adultery.  Why don't we just drag it out into the street?).  The middle age mourn like they can't comprehend us.  Weren't you 35 once?  Have you forgotten what it is to be young?  Yes .  Yes, you have.  If you are wallowing in self pity about why your kids want nothing to do with your brand if church, you have lost the battle already.  The answer to all this nonsense? It's a Sunday school answer if there ever was one: the real living Savior, Jesus.  Immanuel, God with us.  The suffering body of Christ.  If you aren't suffering you aren't part of us.  If you aren't dying for your younger brothers and sisters then you aren't living the Christian life.  Why do I stay?  Because I have been shown by regular saints what love really is.  I've been loved and I want to turn around and love because of it.  Love.  God.  God. Love.  Grace.  Service.  Church.  The living eternal bride of Christ.  From St.Paul to St.Francis to Juliana of Norwich to Luther to McDonald to Lewis to L'Engle to Bob to me.  Give them the real stuff or go home.  I say this with vehemence, maybe someday I'll have the grace to say it in love.

Carole Perkins More than 1 year ago

Why not have four teachers of teens... one for each Sunday of the month.

A college student, or a graduate, or maybe someone new to the work force.

A young married couple.

A young married couple with children and last, but not least,

A grandparent.

Most of the time a youth pastor is not much older than the teens, because "they" think they can relate. But they haven't really experienced much life:  

1. Job related relationships /from minimum wage jobs to management  

2. Marriage

3. Raising children

4. Having grandchildren.

5. Dealing with the loss of someone close to you.

6. Dealing with victory and defeat.

We need to give them a vision of the full scope of life/ and relationships. Truth, not fantasy.

Most importantly, what is the family home structure like? Are the parents working together, to raise their family in a Chistian home-life style setting. Do they read the Bible, have devotions & pray together, not just over a meal? consistant with Biblical truths? Is the father the head of the household caring for his family as Christ does the church? Is the mother honored as the helpmate and mother? Are the children secure in their rightful place within the family? Are all treated with respcet for one another?

There are no perfect families, but real familes, with real life problems. Where do we take our problems, how do we solve them?  

There are no perfect churches, we are all human, but we can strive to work together to build relationship that will last. Producing a network of believers that are knitted together by the love of God, through His Son, and in the power of His Holy Spirit.

Todd Tippin More than 1 year ago

We fail to see the point God makes in His Word as to the reason this continues to happen at epidemic proportions.  Eph. 6:4 tells us that fathers must not provoke their kids to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  I have been in family ministry for over 10 years and the common thread for this mass exodus is our failure to acknowledge God's perfect truth and command for raising children.  We think He missed something and we have a better plan, or at least a more convenient one for us.  We send our kids to a public school that blatantly teaches atheism throughout science, language arts and history.  We fail to disciple our own children leaving this up to others we trust can do a better job than we can do.  We do not consistently read and follow the Word of God in our own homes.  Our own behavior is determined by us rather than serving the Lord in the circumstance He has placed us.  If do not repent of this autonomy from God and embrace His plan for our own lives and those of our children, then we will not be afforded His power and protection from the continuing destruction of the family unit.  We will in effect provoke our kids to wrath.  Wrath for both us and them.

Bruce Decker More than 1 year ago

The reasons provided in the article are good and insightful, but I feel the artice too conveniently places the focus on external factors for the "blame".  The focus needs to be first turned inward.  Our college adult daughter has struggled with getting back into church for a number of reasons, but the single biggest is that she feels she was treated worst by churchgoers in both church and at a Christian school.  In short, she was ostracised and made to feel insignificant and unworthy of their attention, not once, but many times.  I can guess at a number of "reasons" for this, but none of them are justifiable.  We tried to address the issues head-on a couple of times, but no one had the courage or stomach to address the root causes.  I understand churchgoers are human, too, but like it or not, Christians are (and should be) held to a higher standard.  As her parents we have tried to manage this as best we can, but the emotional & spiritual damage is done and significant.  It has contributed to what I believe will be a lifelong struggle with insecurities and low self-worth.  My wife & I struggle with bitterness as well, and as a result, have a limping walk with God.  I've heard and know all the excuses, including that "our focus should be on God & Christ and not on others in church."  I get this, but we too are human and why should the prescription rely on just our responses/actions?