Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, November 13, 2010

More on youth leaving the church

Both here and on Adventist Today there was discussion on the claim that Adventists youth do not leave over doctrines. A statement that is clearly false on it’s face since of course there are Adventist youth who leave over doctrines and it only takes one to make the statement false. But numerous Adventists still held to that idea regardless of the common sense answer that of course there are Adventist youth and adults who leave over doctrines. So I thought I would supply some information from two books that we can read most of at Google books.

“Since I believe that my estimate of 50 percent inactivity for those we are not able to contact is conservative indeed, it seems reasonable to believe that at least 40 percent to 50 percent of Seventh-day Adventist teenagers in North America are essentially leaving the church by their middle 20s. This figure may well be higher. Some will return eventually (perhaps a fifth of the dropouts), but, of course, more may also leave. This study does not provide data to suggest what may happen beyond the mid-20s.”

Page 38-39 dealing with those who remained in the church since it is difficult to gauge those who left the church but the conclusion is suspect:

Young Adults and the Fundamental Beliefs
“We did not ask about all 27 fundamental beliefs, but several that define key elements of Adventism. While correct belief is not all there is to being an Adventist, it is certainly core. Without our distinctive message, there is little reason to remain in our particular faith community, especially if friendship ties are broken.”

From the table on page 39
                                    Agree               Disagree
The Sabbath…………91%.................4%
The Second Coming
Of Jesus……………..92%..................3%
The state of the dead...88%..................3%
The heavenly sanctuary and
The 2300 days……….61%.................7%
Ellen White is a
True prophet…………73%.................9%
The Adventist Church is the
True church…………...69%................14%

I am guessing that it is here in this analysis of the survivors in the Adventist church that the myth of youth not leaving because of doctrines comes from. This being the source for the sentence quote that publications like the Adventist Review can use.

“…The feeling here seems to be not so much a rejection of Adventism but that claims for “true church” smack of pride and exclusiveness. Much of the drop in agreement on other items has been because of uncertainty rather than disbelief, especially on the heavenly sanctuary item, where 31 percent were uncertain. Disbelief in Adventist doctrine does not appear to be a major cause of dropout for youth and young adults.”

It is that last sentence that has taken on a life of its own. The conclusion taken from the comments on a survey of Adventists still in the church; that being that half of the group that is still in the church and communicating with the surveys. But not a survey of those who have actually left the church…the ones we are trying to understand.

Continuing on page 41 on the 11,000 Adventists in the Valuegenesis study:
“…With this younger group, once again temperance and Sabbath issues were highly supported; wine, unclean meats, and sexual behavior were moderately supported; and the “bottom four” were weakly supported. In that study the acceptance rate was jewelry, 39 percent; rock music, 26 percent; dancing, 23 percent; and movies, 19 percent. All four had more in disagreement than in agreement, with nearly two thirds disagreeing on watching movies. It seems almost certain that these four standards will not hold in the near future of the church.”

When reading this we have to wonder what the author sees as a difference between a standard and a doctrine? Unfortunately many people don’t realize they are the same thing. That is a teaching of the church as its standards and beliefs.

On page 42 dealing with the importance of religious faith:
“… This may indicate that contemporary young adults tend to view religious faith apart from institutional commitment and, indeed, the comments introduced in another chapter tend to bear this out. It may also suggest that inactive young adults may be open to fresh approaches to religious faith.”

Adventist doctrine has taught the institutional view of religious faith, but that is less important to the young adults, again a disagreement with doctrine.

“A simple factor analysis of the data revealed five main factors [Valuegenesis results from Sough Pacific Division]:
control: not allowed to think for self, problem with the doctrines, and emphasis on nonessentials
            lack of caring
            lack of meaning and purpose
            personal integrity
            control; discipline, family problems, too restrictive”

There is simply no around the idea that doctrinal issues are related to the loss of youth and adults in the Adventist church. Let’s start being realistic for a change.


Anonymous said...

You offered no factual support for your thesis. Just because you think "they" may be wrong certainly does not make your argument "right".

Ron Corson said...

How can I quote the research from the Valuegenesis study and yet it be said that I offered no facts to back up the obvious that doctrinal issues are involved. I quoted in the article this line: "“A simple factor analysis of the data revealed five main factors [Valuegenesis results from Sough Pacific Division]:
control: not allowed to think for self, problem with the doctrines,.."

I am constantly amazed at how people can read and yet not see anything other then what they want to see.

Anonymous said...

Ron, see if possibly your last sentence might apply to you. I actually have no axe to grind or position to defend. I am the one being completely objective.

I am certainly not a traditional Adventist but given a choice of being outside like you in self exile or finding the "good" within the church, I choose the latter.


Ron Corson said...

Really it applies to me, when you must have read that quote if you read the article and then you said I gave no factual support. I mean it even used the word doctrines.

If you were objective you would say oh I missed that part, but you instead turn it into an attack on me, well where is your factual support to say that. Certainly like anyone else I can misread something and when I do I appreciate it being pointed out factually so I can know the issue is real rather than a perception. So yes it can apply to me but does it in this instance or on this subject. Remember I am not the one making the sweeping generalization that youth don't leave over doctrines. I specifically have stated that doctrines are so closely related to relationships in our church that you can't really separate the two. Thus the title of the original article Doctrines to irrelevance. As the doctrines are used as a wedge to stop or break relationships.

As for self exile. I reached out to the Pastor I got one reply and no reply to the answer I gave sent back. In fact I received no answer from the others in the Early teen outrage. So please don't say it is self imposed. Well except for the fact that I retain the right to intelligent and reasoned beliefs. Of course when those meet the doctrines...well as I said the relationship part just goes out the window.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I apologize if you view what I said as an attack, I was attacking your logic, NOT you, I like you.

I do not see the correlation between doctrines and relationships as you do. I also wondered what the reference to the South Pacific Division in that study was???

"My" factual support is my years and years of working with youth and young adults. I can honestly say that though I have seen dozens upon dozens leave the church I cannot remember one kid who said he was doing so because of a disagreement with doctrine.

As far as your exile goes, we have all been criticized and attacked. I have had lies and innuendo heaped on me in the past but I remember that I do not serve myself or even the church, I serve my Friend in heaven and he has certainly been more defamed and slandered than you or I will ever be.


Ron Corson said...

I believe you Bruce that you think your perception is true. You think there is no relation between doctrines and how people who disagree with doctrines are treated. Now I don't understand how you can arrive at that conclusion but I believe you think you arrive there.

It is rather like your previous comment where you say: "I am the one being completely objective."

Then you more recent comment says:""My" factual support is my years and years of working with youth and young adults."

Your experience is totally subjective yet you think it is objective. Remember I have been in your classes and I know from my observations that you will hear something totally different then what a person says. It is like my critique of sermons where you only hear what you like in the sermon and are surprised by me when I point out the areas that are Biblically or theological wrong or inconsistent.