Church drop-out: Why students stop attending church

By Ariana Yamasaki
April 4, 2019

Growing up in a household that has a strong faith usually means that you are going to attend a religious service at least once a week. When those children grow up and go to college, are they going to continue going to church on a regular basis? According to Lifeway Research, 70 percent of young adults who attend college stop attending church on a regular basis.

Every Sunday Rosa Altomare woke up, put on her favorite church attire and went to church with her family. Altomare is the Campus Minister here at Cabrini University and she was raised to go to church every Sunday.

“As a child, church was an obligation. We never missed mass unless we were very sick,” Altomare said.

Students, faculty and staff in the Bruckmann Memorial Chapel of Saint Joesph. Photo by Emily Rowan.

When children go to church they do not grasp what is happening and why they are there; they just go because their parents make them.

“My favorite part of mass was the music, but otherwise I often thought it was boring,” Altomare said.

Having an understanding of what faith is and knowing what going to church or a religious service means to a person can make a difference in how they perceive church or the service.

“I liked getting to spend time with my grandparents at church. I did not understand much about why we went, but if I had understood that better, I think I would have liked it more,” Altomare said.

Do children who go to church every week when they are younger end up going to church when they leave the nest and go to college? For Altomare that seemed to be the case.

“At college I continued to go to mass every Sunday until my junior year. At that point my faith started to change and I only went to mass when I wanted to. If I didn’t go, it was usually because I felt that my time could be better spent doing homework. When I did go, my favorite parts were the community that I found at mass, the music, and the homilies that were always relevant to our experiences as college students,” Altomare said.

According to Lifeway Research, 24 percent of students stopped attending church because of their work responsibilities.

“Going to church (especially daily mass) helps me to strengthen my prayer life. It brings me peace, and when I don’t go, it is because of how busy I am,” Altomare said.

31 percent of those who stopped attending church on a regular basis while in college start to come back attending at least two services a month according to Lifeway Research.  

Understanding the faith that you were raised in can change how you feel about the idea of participating in religious services. Every child who is born into a religious family is just thrown into it because of their parents. According to Pew Research, 69 percent of people go to church so that their children will have a moral foundation. As the child grows and matures they can make their own opinions about church and how it makes them feel.

Bruckmman Chapel of Saint Joseph. Photo by Emily Rowan.

“As I have grown up and taken ownership of my faith, I have found many other experiences that also enrich my spirituality and make me feel closer to God, and those often happen outside of church,” Altomare said.

According to the Huffington Post, students are more likely to go the spirituality route because of the lack of commitment needed. When attending school students feel that there is not enough time to do everything. Doing spiritual practices will give them a sense of connecting with something greater but on their own terms. They can do this in the privacy of their room or in smaller groups.

Growing up in a certain religion will help mold you as an adult. There are some people that find comfort in going to church but there are others who find comfort in other practices within their religion.

According to the Huffington Post, students have been in lectures all day and do not want to be lectured about their personal life in a religious service. This is the first time that the students are living alone and may not be doing the

“Now, I go to church because it brings me a sense of peace—I no longer go because of a sense of obligation,” Altomare said.

Ariana Yamasaki

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap