James Penner & Associates


A new Canadian report hears from youth and suggests ways to reverse the trend.

  • Only one in three Canadian young adults who attended church weekly as a child still do so today.
  • Of the young adults who no longer attend church, half have also stopped identifying themselves with the Christian tradition in which they were raised.
  • There are four primary toxins that keep young people from engaging with the church: Hypocrisy, judgement, exclusivity, failure.

These are just some of the findings in Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church, a ground-breaking Canadian study of 2,049 young people between the ages of 18 and 34.  The study was commissioned by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable.

“For those of us who are close to what is going on in youth ministry across Canada, the research findings are not so much surprising as they are confirming – that many who have grown up in church are no longer strongly engaged by the time they reach their adult years. We have heard their stories but now this research validates their actual departure. More importantly, it provides a glimpse behind the curtain as to why and the challenges that need to be addressed,” says John Wilkinson, chair of the EFC Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable.

In addition to the 2011 survey by the Angus Reid Forum, 72 interviews were conducted with young people who shared honestly about their often broken relationship with the church.

Hemorrhaging the Faith was written by Canadian sociologist James Penner, together with Rachael Harder, Erika Anderson, Bruno Désorcy and the EFC’s Rick Hiemstra. It was funded by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, The Great Commission Foundation, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, Stronger Together 2011 and Youth for Christ Canada.

Click to download a copy of the report ($15 when downloading for individual use; $12 when downloading for group use plus $3 for every copy made of the downloaded document).