One Key to Reclamation: The Simple Act of Encouragement

Sam Rainer

November 12, 2008

For my book, co-authored with my father, our research team interviewed 394 rechurched young adults to find out why they returned to church. One myth that could be easily dismissed is that they were too angry at the church to return. In fact, the rechurched told us in overwhelming numbers that anger at the church was not a factor in their departures. Apathy tended to be the trump card over anger.

Surprisingly, the dechurched often just needed a gentle nod to become the rechurched. And that gentle nod came most often from friends and family. Nearly four out ten (39%) rechurched told us that parents or other family members were instrumental in their return to church. Another two out of ten (21%) said that they returned to church after friends or acquaintances encourage them to attend.

Eliminating the overlapping responses, we find that exactly one-half (50%) of the rechurched are back in church because of the encouragement of a friend or family members. It is easy to pass by the previous sentence with little reaction, but it is a profound reality. We lose two-thirds of young adults between the ages of 18 and 22, but we can reclaim half of them with a simple act of encouragement from family and friends.

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