A couple of weeks ago I was given a book to read. The book, Already Gone, was written by Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis founder) and Britt Beemer. It explores why so many children who are raised in the church end up leaving by the time they are adults. According to statistical studies, 60% of regular church attenders will leave.
The study examined by the book draws on information gathered from interviews with 1000 twenty-somethings who regularly attended theologically conservative churches as children, but who no longer (or rarely) attend today. Of the 1000 people interviewed, 61% said they regularly attended Sunday school.
One may suspect that those who attended Sunday school would be more likely to remain in church over time. One may also suspect that those attending Sunday school would have greater confidence in the Bible and a better opinion of church in general. Here are some surprising results uncovered in the survey:
The research showed that students who regularly attended Sunday school are:
- more likely NOT to believe that all the accounts/stories in the Bible are true/accurate.
- more likely to doubt the Bible because it was written by men.
- more likely to doubt the Bible because it was not translated correctly.
- more likely to defend that abortion should continue to be legal.
- more likely to defend premarital sex.
- more likely to accept that gay marriage and abortion should be legal.
- more likely to view the church as hypocritical.
- much more likely to have become anti-church through the years.
- more likely to believe that good people don’t need to go to church.
Did you read that correctly? That is right. Those who regularly attended Sunday school are more likely to express the views above than those who did not attend. What are we to make of this? Below are some more specific numbers to consider:
When asked these questions, here are the responses from each group.
1. Do you believe that premarital sex is wrong?
- YES. 40.8% of Sunday school attenders
- YES. 47.7% of those who did not go to Sunday school
2. Do you feel good people don’t need to go to church?
- YES. 39.3% of Sunday school attenders
- YES. 28.9% of those who did not go to Sunday school
3. Do you feel that church is relevant to your needs today?
- NO. 46.4% of Sunday school attenders
- NO. 39.6% of those who did not go to Sunday school
4. Do you believe that you have become anti-church through the years?
- YES. 39.1% of Sunday school attenders
- YES. 26.9% of those who did not go to Sunday school
This is a very intriguing study. What are we to make of it? Are we better off sleeping in on Sunday and forgetting Sunday school altogether? What are your thoughts? What should we do to correct the problem?