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.
First from from page 35 of Why our teenagers leave the church: personal stories from a 10-year study By Roger L. Dudley
“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
The Second Coming
The state of the dead...88%..................3%
The heavenly sanctuary and
The 2300 days……….61%.................7%
Ellen White is a
The Adventist Church is the
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.
Finally here is a brief section on page 273 from Getting it right: a power-packed resource for Adventist youth leaders By General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. Youth Dept. Chapter author Barry Gane:
“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 nonessentialslack of caringlack of meaning and purposepersonal integritycontrol; 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.