Knoxville Christian community using new ways to reach young adul

Knoxville Christian community using new ways to reach young adults

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Some of the latest nationwide statistics show that number is dropping. A 2014 study by the Barna Research Group found only two out of 10 young adults believe going to church is important. Some of the latest nationwide statistics show that number is dropping. A 2014 study by the Barna Research Group found only two out of 10 young adults believe going to church is important.
Fr. Rich Andre knows the struggle of trying to fill the seats with a younger crowd. He says most people who leave their Christian faith do so by the age of 23. Fr. Rich Andre knows the struggle of trying to fill the seats with a younger crowd. He says most people who leave their Christian faith do so by the age of 23.
Trying to reach this "lost generation" is a problem Ryan Collins deals with every day. He works with campus-based ministry Cru, commonly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Trying to reach this "lost generation" is a problem Ryan Collins deals with every day. He works with campus-based ministry Cru, commonly known as Campus Crusade for Christ.
Despite low church attendance among young people, research shows more people are using their tablet or phone to read the Bible. Despite low church attendance among young people, research shows more people are using their tablet or phone to read the Bible.
By KAYLA STRAYER
6 News Reporter


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The South is commonly referred to as the "Bible Belt," but how many young adults are actually going to church?

Some of the latest nationwide statistics show that number is dropping. A 2014 study by the Barna Research Group found only two out of 10 young adults believe going to church is important.

We spoke to the local Christian community about the problem and how they're trying to reach what some call the "lost generation."

St. John XXIII Catholic Center is right in the middle of the University of Tennessee campus. Fr. Rich Andre knows the struggle of trying to fill the seats with a younger crowd. He says most people who leave their Christian faith do so by the age of 23.

"They maybe went to Sunday school until eighth grade, or until second grade, and they're saying now well the faith is irrelevant and I say well of course it is. If you're working on a second grade knowledge of the faith, that's not going to work as an adult," Andre said.

Trying to reach this "lost generation" is a problem Ryan Collins deals with every day. He works with campus-based ministry Cru, commonly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Collins says when students get to college they're exposed to countless new ideas and experiences, which can pull them away from their faith.

"You have a lot of students in high school where they might have grown up in the church, where they know something about what they believe, but they don't really know why," Collins said.

"It is a lost generation, and there are hardly any young people at church anymore," said Liz Letendre, director of youth and young adult ministry for Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville.

A young adult herself, Letendre says she's able to help reach her peers by not being afraid to answer the tough questions they often have.

"It's been so great to be involved in reaching others, because I know where I was, that makes me able to meet them where they're at, speak to them on a level they can understand, and not force religion on them," Letendre said.

High school senior Gloria Pascual says forcing beliefs on teenagers actually turns them away from the church once they leave home.

"I think people do stop believing because their parents kind of force them to go to church," Pascual said.

But some Christian leaders are trying new ways to bring the "lost generation" home, by creating apps, podcasts and keeping up with social media.

"It's not what the church teaches has changed, but how we explain that has to be explained in a very different way because it doesn't reach people as it used to," Andre said.

Despite low church attendance among young people, research shows more people are using their tablet or phone to read the Bible.
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