Why 20-Somethings Leave The Church

Why 20 somethings leave the churchWe’re the group that is consistently missing from the church. We’re the ones that go missing for a few years, and then return to the church houses of our childhoods. We’re the “20-somethings.” Now, not ALL 20-somethings aren’t in church; my husband and I are both 20-somethings, and we attend church every time the doors are open. But still, the majority of our age group is missing from the church. Everyone talks about trying to bring our age back to the church house, but no one bothers to ask WHY we aren’t in church. Some answers may surprise you.

I’ve talked to friends and family members that are 20-somethings, and I asked them why they stopped going to church, or felt like they didn’t want to go anymore (because even if we ARE there, sometimes, it’s still hard to WANT to be there). Here are some answers I’ve gotten.

There’s the first, and obvious, reason: they leave home. When young adults (18-20somethings) gain the freedom to make their own decisions, they tend to choose NOT to do things that they were forced to do as a child. If they were raised like I was, they probably went to church every Sunday — there was no option. So, when they have the choice to either go to church or stay home after a long Saturday night or a long work week, they tend to just stay home. It may start out as just every now and then, then they become “Sunday Morning Only” (S.M.O.s) Christians, then they become “once a monthers”, then they become “holidayers”, and then, before they know it, they aren’t going at all. Missing church is a slippery slope, and when you are young and busy, it’s easy to choose comfort over God’s house.

There’s not much you can do but pray for those 20-somethings. They will have to realize on their own just how badly they need to attend God’s house and spend time with His people.

Then there was another reason: those 20-somethings that stay in church, feel out of place. They are too old for the youth group, but they don’t really have a role in the adult classes either. I refer to us 20-somethings as “in-betweeners.” We are in-between the two biggest groups in the church. A lot of churches are so busy trying to cater to the youth and the elders, that the 20-30 age bracket gets forgotten about. And when there are activities for all ages at church, they tend to schedule them during the work week and at an inconvenient time for any 20-something that has to work. Churches are so concerned about keeping their youth numbers up, and their adult class numbers up, that they forget that there is another whole age group that doesn’t get to fellowship or participate in anything other than services, and even then, they usually just get to sit in the pews.

If we want the 20-30 age range to grow in our church, we have to make sure they feel A PART of the church and not like the church doesn’t care about them. Most 20-somethings don’t get encouraged as much as the youth, and they definitely don’t get respected like the older adults in the church. That’s not a fun place to be!

One of the most alarming facts I found was that some 20-somethings don’t feel like they had been prepared enough in their youth to be able to join the adult classes. A lot of adult classes are intimidating, but when you don’t know basic Biblical truths, I can imagine it can be so much harder! We need to be teaching our youth, not just about the dangers of drugs and drinking, but about God’s Word! If you are a youth leader in any capacity, then I BEG you to please start giving your youth the meat of the Word, not just the milk, it will help them when they become 20-somethings!

Churches, you’ve been trying to win our age group back for years, and now, we’ve given you some insight as to how. You don’t have to change services, you don’t have to really go out of your way at all. We just need to be recognized. We need someone who will take the time and teach us things we need for our everyday life. We need Bible studies for our age group, we need to be included in activities, we need THE CHURCH!

This cycle of 20-somethings falling away from church is just going to continue unless the church decides that it’s enough. We need to expect more from our 20-somethings, we need to show them love, we need to include them. If we can get just a few of them back, then I know that we can end this cycle. It’s up to you church. We need you.


Are you a 20-something? What’s your reason for leaving church? I’m sure it wasn’t completely intentional, but can I share a word of encouragement with you? God needs you. He wants to use you. He wants you in church, doing His will. I know its not easy sometimes, and the devil has what appears to be “better offers,” but I promise if you give everything to God, your life will be so much better than any sin that we can enjoy for only a season. Find a church, take some friends with you! Let’s start a 20-something movement!




  1. Nicole Wasendorf says:

    Thank you for writing this, Katie! It is some well needed insight into the heart and mind of 20-something’s, and some truths that I need to hear and apply to the 20 something’s in my life. Thanks for taking the time to care and share, and thanks for being one of the 20-something’s that has stayed in the church and worked. I love you!

  2. There are other reasons that we 20 somethings are leaving the church.

    My former church is not the same entity that it was when I was a kid. Too often my former church now invents new reasons not to fellowship with others. My former church looks for reasons to disdain and/or ridicule others rather than helping them to follow in the Lord. Rather than following the humility of Jesus, they are prideful.

    Some of them participate in teachings which can demonstratively be proven false. The Earth is not 6000 years old. Not all scientists are atheists. The last time I walked into that former church of mine, I heard them tell the congregation that the work I was going to school to do, biochemical engineering, was evil.

    I have since gone to many churches, never finding my home. I have prayed for God to find me a new home where the teachings from my childhood are still held. I am unable to find it.

    • I’m glad I have never came across anything like that in my 22 years of attending different churches (although I do know there are some out there)! I know that must be so discouraging. I pray that you find a church family that encourages you; that is what the church is for, after all. Thank you for your input, it’s greatly appreciated! Prayers!

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