Abandonment of Church by Youth-Believers in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Kisii County, Kenya
Kireri, Douglas Omosa
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The study sought to explore the rationale behind the abandonment of the Church, mainly among the youth-believers in the Adventist Church in Kisii County, Kenya. It has investigated why an otherwise committed youth, who faithfully used to attend the Church would suddenly stop showing up on a weekly, monthly and/or yearly basis, despite living in the neighborhood; yet they still claim to observe the Sabbath. This following objectives guided this research; to analyze the practicability of the Baptismal Class Sessions in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Kisii County, to explore the reasons why youth-believers abandon the Church after baptism in Kisii County, and to suggest solutions to the challenge of the phenomenon of youth abandoning the Adventist Church in Kisii County. The study reviewed the literature related to the Church and the youths. The study was theoretically informed by Emile Durkheim‟s Functionalist Theory, which argues that society is a system of related parts of social institutions, such as the family, religion, and the economy. Durkheim‟s theory concludes that religion acts as both glue and a lubricant to the social process. The researcher adopted descriptive design in analyzing the data. The target population in this study was the S.D.A Churches in Kisii County because it involved the youths in these Churches. Purposive sampling was conducted where youths in Churches were included in the study. In this regard, ten selected clergy and other Church members were purposively interviewed. The study used three types of questionnaires, that is, for the clergy, Church elders, and for the youths. The study also used interview schedules and Focused Group Discussions. Piloting was conducted in Kirenga Central S.D.A in Lari to test the validity and reliability of the research collection tool-questionnaire. In a nutshell, the study established the critical factors that make the youths abandon the Church. The main reasons include; failure of parental roles, boring worship service, misjudgment by elder members, dropping out of a ministry, poor role models, dropping out of a group, and gradual withdrawal. The study also explored potential solutions to the problem of youths in the vice of abandoning the Church. This includes: an emphasis on fundamental teachings, reorganization of baptismal classes, and making religious instructions pleasant among other solutions. The study will be crucial to the Church, the society and the country at large because it is geared towards attempts in remolding the moral uprightness of the society, as the Church partly plays the role of instilling morals to the youth. To the clergy, the study will help them to put up necessary measures in place in order to retain the youths in the Church. The research found out that the baptismal class sessions are in place in preparing new converts to become church members. It was also noted that there are a number of reasons that make the youth to abandon the church and solutions to these reasons were suggested. The research therefore recommended a number of issues that can be looked into to help in youth retention. These recommendations include improving the methods of preparing the new converts by making adjustments in the baptismal classes and also coming up with activities that will engage the youth in church to help in retention among other recommendations.