Presentation Title

Emotive and experiential factors of leaving the Christian faith and the Church

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

Watkins 2240

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Abstract

Different research studies and polls indicate that church attendance in America has been declining for four decades. According to Barnes Group, 50% of young adults, while transiting from high school to college, either cease to attend church or give up their Christian faith. Many studies approach this problem using a quantitative method; however, statistical figures are incapable of revealing the deeper structure of the phenomenon, especially the emotive and experiential factors. Prior studies conducted by the research team found that intellectual challenges by the New Atheist Movement and the postmodern culture are not major concerns by the participants at all. According to Hope and Packard, the experience of churchgoers in the community is a more determining factor to their continuation of Christian life than theological factors. In this study 534 responses from adults aged 18-40 were collected. Qualitative methodologies were employed in an attempt to find out what the disconnect is between their expectations and their actual church experience. The unstructured textual data are categorized into major themes and the findings are compared against those yielded by prior studies using quantitative methods. To avoid bias and to improve reliability, a panel was set up to classify the open-ended responses. Several themes emerged from the preliminary analysis. Specifically, several respondents found that the Christian community is so judgmental that it deviates from their conception of the great commandant of love and forgiveness. The research team hopes that this analysis of rich data could unveil a holistic picture of the unchurching phenomenon.

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Nov 12th, 2:00 PM Nov 12th, 2:15 PM

Emotive and experiential factors of leaving the Christian faith and the Church

Watkins 2240

Different research studies and polls indicate that church attendance in America has been declining for four decades. According to Barnes Group, 50% of young adults, while transiting from high school to college, either cease to attend church or give up their Christian faith. Many studies approach this problem using a quantitative method; however, statistical figures are incapable of revealing the deeper structure of the phenomenon, especially the emotive and experiential factors. Prior studies conducted by the research team found that intellectual challenges by the New Atheist Movement and the postmodern culture are not major concerns by the participants at all. According to Hope and Packard, the experience of churchgoers in the community is a more determining factor to their continuation of Christian life than theological factors. In this study 534 responses from adults aged 18-40 were collected. Qualitative methodologies were employed in an attempt to find out what the disconnect is between their expectations and their actual church experience. The unstructured textual data are categorized into major themes and the findings are compared against those yielded by prior studies using quantitative methods. To avoid bias and to improve reliability, a panel was set up to classify the open-ended responses. Several themes emerged from the preliminary analysis. Specifically, several respondents found that the Christian community is so judgmental that it deviates from their conception of the great commandant of love and forgiveness. The research team hopes that this analysis of rich data could unveil a holistic picture of the unchurching phenomenon.