Mainline Dropout

Mainline Dropout

Stan Stewart

Mainline Dropout

Stan Stewart was commissioned by Presbyterian Youth Ministry in New Zealand to find out why young adults are missing from the mainline churches. Stan interviewed 120 young adults from New Zealand and Australia. His findings are found in the book, How to Keep Your Young People and Get More, available for $15 NZ plus postage and packaging. Email Hazel at Here’s a sample to chew on.

When did you drop out and why?

Most dropped out of the church based activities (Sunday Schools, clubs etc.) before or during their thirteenth year.

Drop out reasons

The principal reasons given for dropping out of these youth activities.

‘Boring,’ especially in relation to Sunday School.
‘Lost interest,’ in relation to clubs and Brigades.
‘Boring,’ and ‘there was no one of my age,’ from those who attended worship services.

Young people who attended church schools stopped church involvement when they left the schools. I gather that religion in school innoculated them against any further hankering for religion. They figured they had had enough to last a life time.Youth Groups: Some drop outs from Sunday Schools and clubs stayed on in Youth Groups for a few years. But it seems that youth groups have many ups and downs, and I often heard of groups that had leadership problems and subsequently, folded. ‘If such and such leader had not left, I would have probably kept going,’ was something said to me about a number of church youth groups. Most of the young people I interviewed had stopped attending youth group (or the youth group had ceased to exist) sometime before they had started at varsity or college.

Church involvementMid to late teens church involvement: The large majority of young people I talked with had no regular contact with a church for two to five years prior to coming to varsity or college.

A small number, about 10% of those who had church involvement in childhood maintained church involvement at some level until they went to varsity or college.

Muso maestros

A significant number in the group of ‘stayers’ were musicians who played in their church either regularly or occasionally; for example, the organ, piano, in an orchestra or band.

A few of this 10% were still attending worship in a trad church. For this group, church attendance had been a lifetime practice. Most of these young people were still living at home and were attending the same church as one or both parents attended.

These young people seemed to be strong minded, individualists who could cope with being ‘the only young person’, or ‘one of a very few young people’ in their church.

A number of these indicated that they had very strong family loyalties.