New Research Reveals The Reasons a Majority of Young Christians Are Leaving Church, According to The Casual Christian

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According to David Kinnaman of the Barna Group, Ventura, California, a leading researcher of church trends, nearly three out of five young Christians disconnect with church permanently or for an extended period of time around the age of fifteen. Mr. Kinnaman conducted a series of interviews with teenagers, their parents, and pastors to determine the reasons why young people leave the church. The Casual Christian,by Craig Olson explores the same phenomenon and offers expanded family networks as a way of supporting young people within their families and reinforcing sound, Christian values.

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...churches can play a vital role by providing an extended network of supportive Christian family.

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For many young people, the church feels too exclusive and detached from the realities they encounter on a daily basis. It has built a bubble around them to protect them from influences that run counter to the Christian message like casual sexual attitudes and the teaching of evolution. And it does not welcome those who have doubts or offer help for the emotional struggles so common to young teens.

The solution, according to Mr. Kinnaman, is a church environment that provides vital connections between generations. One example, proposed by the author of The Casual Christian, another book that addresses the issue of building vital Christian community, is something called "Faith Families."

The Faith Family is composed of several families and individuals who live in close enough proximity to one another that they can conveniently provide personal nurture and caring as well as discipline when needed. There is no schedule of activities. Each group has mentors similar to those Paul established in his churches—older men teaching young men and older women teaching young women (Ti 2:1–10). In this way, values and a common culture pass from one generation to the next and the socialization of young people is intentional rather than left by default to the television, computer, and school system. Inter-generational ties are maintained and strengthened in a way that promotes respect and caring for elders and guidance and encouragement for young people.

Faith Families follow the biblical pattern instituted by Moses in the wilderness when he sub-divided the nation of Israel into groups of ten, fifty, one hundred and one thousand for the purpose of easing his administrative burden. They are not a program but a means of managing relationships efficiently and effectively.

In a day when the extended family has been replaced by the nuclear family and parents often struggle to juggle all the responsibilities of child rearing with busy careers, churches can play a vital role by providing an extended network of supportive Christian family the way they did in the first century.


The Casual Christian examines the history of the Christian Church from the days of the Apostles through the great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries. It compares the moribund corporate style religion of today with the dynamic religious life of the early church that propelled church membership from 25,000 to 20 million by the end of the fourth century and extended its reach from Palestine east to India and north to Great Britain. It examines the reasons for the decline of the modern church, including dismemberment of the family for program purposes, and prescribes solutions for renewal.

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About The Book

In The Casual Christian, author Craig Olson Takes a look at modern church practices and contemporary Christian ministry through the lens of Apostolic practices. He shows how biblical teaching has simply been set aside for the prevailing practices and values of a secular culture. Studying the church from Pentecost to the Great Revival, Olson found the way Christians did church then is very different from the way they do church today.

In The Casual Christian, Olson reaches out to those who have been disillusioned with today's church. Based on historical Christian practices, he suggests ways to revitalize the church and make it relevant to the times in which we live.

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