Thursday, July 1, 2010

Generation Ex-Christian by Drew Dyck

Title: Generation Ex-Christian
SubTitle: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . .and How to Bring Them Back
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Pub Date: 10/01/2010
ISBN: 9780802443557
Author: Drew Dyck

Young people aren’t walking away from the church—they’re sprinting. According to a recent study by Ranier Research, 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are 22 years old. Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29 years old. Unlike earlier generations of church dropouts, these “leavers” are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community such as home churches and small groups. When they leave church, many leave the faith as well.

Drawing on recent research and in-depth interviews with young leavers, Generation Ex-Christian will shine a light on this crisis and propose effective responses that go beyond slick services or edgy outreach.

But it won’t be easy. Christianity is regarded with suspicion by the younger generation. Those who leave the faith are often downright cynical. To make matters worse, parents generally react poorly when their children go astray. Many sink into a defensive crouch or go on the attack, delivering homespun fire-and-brimstone sermons that further distance their grown children. Others give up completely or take up the spiritual-sounding “all we can do is pray” mantra without truly exploring creative ways to engage their children on matters of faith. Some turn to their churches for help, only to find that they frequently lack adequate resources to guide them.

I received a pre-publication electronic galley to read and review from the publisher via netGalley. I am under no obligation to the publisher, and this review is my honest opinion upon reading the galley.

Generation Ex-Christian is written with an evangelical Christian audience in mind. By this I mean that Dyck writes from the point of view of a Bible-believing Christian who whole-heartedly believes that faith in Jesus is the only way to have a relationship with God, and that all those who do not accept this are lost. He writes to an audience that believes the same, and who are desperately concerned for friends or family members who have abandoned their faith. For evangelical Christian readers, this book will be informative; but other readers may find it offensive or upsetting.

Dyck describes six different groups of "ex-Christians"; postmoderns, recoilers, moderns, neo-pagans, rebels and drifters. He briefly discusses what may have led to these particular people moving away from traditional Christian faith, then concentrates on the best methods of evangelism to win them back.

I found Dyck's discussion of the reasons for leaving the faith overly simplistic, but I see that is because he is writing from a point of view that does not have any questions or doubts about Christianity. I would have liked these issues to be looked at more deeply. I also found Dyck's various methods for bringing the lost sheep back to the fold a little bit manipulative. It certainly gave me the a bit of a "paint by numbers" feeling, in which the reader was encouraged to "diagnose" which group their friend or family member belongs to, and then follow the recommendations that were prescribed. That is the main reason that I think that the non-Evangelical-Christian reader would find this book somewhat offensive.

For the expected audience, this book will provide some useful insights into the issues around leaving the faith, and I believe that it has been written, and will be read, with the best of intentions. I'm just not sure that the issues are interrogated deeply enough for my liking.

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