Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Filipino Youth are Dropping out of Church

One of the articles in my book will be about live-in relationships (also know as cohabitation). Research indicates that Filipino youth are becoming more accepting of cohabitation. This, of course, saddens me. The author of the study noted something else about Filipino youth: they go to church less frequently than they did a decade ago. Here’s the quote:

Findings also show that the youth are getting to be less religious in general. Using attendance at religious services as a measure of religiosity, fewer people attend religious services at least once a week and more people reported they rarely or never attend religious services in 2002 (35%) than in 1994 (24%).*

As I have mentioned before, I’m deeply concerned about the moral/spiritual values of our youth here in the Philippines (especially here in Manila: see Manila’s Silent Epidemic). This study reminds me of our urgent task: to reach the youth with biblical, high-quality, relevant ministry.

*You can find the study about cohabitation here.


  1. Dear kevin,

    I am really sad about this article as well and i can really see the truth behind this. One of the reasons why is because a church dont know how to be relevant to our youth of today.The church has forgotten that we need to become all things to all men to save not just some but Many”. Church has continued to minister to kids the way they want to, forgetting that we are reaching out to a different generation that will not like the old fashion way of preaching, the religious way of being conservative. They like what they see in the secular world so we can turn it around and turn it around to something Godly and reach them that way. I am a witness to this cause I teach Worship at Faith Academy and we sing songs they like that I dont usually enjoy listening like Rock praise and worship. But if i can be a little flexible and learn to like what they like just to get them to worship God, why not??? The problem however I em encountering are conservative adults (teachers) that complain ” Why do we have to be so loud and have loud music when we praise and worship)They are forgetting that it it NOT about them but the generation that God wants to reach. I have an incredible curriculum that came from Joyce Meyer Youth Ministry led by Chad Daniels called YOUTHBYTES that is such a phenomenal approach to youth today. We are praying for open doors to get this curriculum into the right hands.

  2. Not surprising. Immorality in the Philippines is as appalling, or worse, than in the States.

    Just look at the TV programs, billboards, magazines, and newspapers. Things that won’t be allowed by American teens are seen by little kids in the Philippines. Teen pregnancy is more rampant here than in the States. Couples living together with children are everywhere, especially in the slum areas.

    And I’m not talking about those who are outside the church. I see all of these inside the church as well. The church has become not just like the world, but is now of the world. What happened to all those church youth programs to attract and entertain and give fun and games to the youth? Did they have any effect on the youth’s morality? The answer, as we can see in the survey, is absolutely, no effect. It’s even worse, because evangelicals today cannot distinguish between church worship and rock concerts.

    You’re right – when there’s no serious Biblical teaching, the church apostasizes. Biblical illiteracy among evangelicals is nauseating. Why? Because the churches are full of worldly entertainment masquerading as worship, pop psychology as sermons, and opinion surveys as Bible studies.

    I wrote about this in my posts, “The Malling of Evangelicalism” and “Big Mac Evangelicals.”

  3. Nollie,

    I disagree with your assessment of youth ministry strategies, but I appreciate your comments nonetheless.


  4. To counter some points of the opinions, I think the majority of the churches are working very hard to be relevant to the youth. Although, personally, I find that the fixation on youth is a bit extreme. To assume that God is wanting to specifically reach a certain generation is rather immature, but typical of a young adults perspective. God reaches out to people regardless of age. A church that does not have a wide range of ages/generatons is missing out on what the complete body of Christ has to offer. Catering to a specific generation minimizes the importance of the whole.
    Secondly, as the book Blue Like Jazz comments: “Christianity will never be cool.” Recognition of complete sin, and bowing to grace and forgiveness is the uncooless thing in the world. Coolness is an attitude, with an inherent “devil may care” aura. Just think of anyone that you think is cool, and think about what it is that you decide that person is cool or not. Most likely, it will have something to do with how the person is different from “the rest” of the christian community. While this may be beneficial in youth leaders at some point (since young adults like to think they are very unique) it does not go far in creating unity in the body of Christ. Hence, aiding in the dichotomy of “conservative adults” and “the generation God wants to reach”.
    As a psychology teacher in a college located here in Manila, I am in constant contact with young adults and am impressed with the maturity that many show in their search for the truth. Recently, in talking with a youth pastor of a very large, successful church in Manila which has numerous services well attended by young audlts, he commented that the youth today are not as “difficult” or “rebellious” as the youth of the 80’s. I find this an encouraging phenomenon. So, that ends my comments. By the way, I’m not an old fart. Just 33 in fact, also with a desire to be different from the “rest” but gradually realizing that soon I will be “the rest”, just as those 10 to 15 years younger then I will also eventually be “the rest”!
    Martha Goebel

  5. Nice to hear from you. Email me and let me know what school you are teaching in. Maybe we can network.

  6. I think the reason why there are lot of youth dropping out the church they never understood what the church really mean is. The church is the people in the chruch ,its nt the structure, its not the building.its relationship within a church. We “ourselves”belongs to church. We need to reach out for our youth today because they are the future generation.

  7. hi kuya kevin I’am not a so called church goer but I make it a point that everytime I will wake up in the morning and before going to sleep I’ll say a little prayer. Just to say thank you for all the blessings and wonderful things that He gave to me and to my family.

  8. Anonymous,

    I meet people like you almost every day. I’m glad that you took the time to read my blog. If you’d like to talk about this more just email me and we can chat about it (we can even meet in person if you are in Manila).

  9. the traditional family structure in the Philippines is rapidly breaking down. cohabitation or live-in arrangements are encouraged not just by media but by the rampant separation of parents either because of work (one or both work overseas) or of marriage problems. young people see the instability of marriage and opt for cohabitation, thinking they can leave the relationship without worrying about legalities. but they’re dead wrong. the situation just worsens. i know married young adults who have children out of wedlock because their parents came from such relationships. lack of role models of stable families cause young people to get into bad relationships or bad marriages. if the church doesn’t know how to minister to young people with this kind of family situation, they will stay away from church. i encourage all of us young adults and adults from stable families to reach out to these youth and show them what church is really all about — the unconditional, accepting love of the Lord expressed through His spiritual family.

  10. Kuya Kevin, thanks for letting me know about this study. I might write an indepth article about this. It’s a sad fact. 🙁

    Btw, you’re new template is nice. 😀


  11. ministering to the youth is really challenging. The gospel is the same, unchanged, seemingly different,packaged slightly. To the Jew a Jew…that I might win some..

    Just like how christian music the end of the day,we make sure they became converts of Christ not because of the enticing music and lights but a genuine encounter with God through sincere Godly people who allowed themselves to be used to minister.
    Then they worship on their own,even without the crowd, all the hype which was instrumental in leading them to Christ in the first place-

  12. Or maybe, it could be a case of selfishness among the churched. We have been accustomed to our old ways of worship, we do not study to learn how to relate, respond, be with, and simply understand the present generation. Could it be we are stuck with our own, comfortable old selves? We have forgotten how to reach out, step out of our own comfort zone just so we can bridge that gap between the old and the young, the churched and the unchurched. It takes humility to admit that we have to study and sometimes, old methods just won’t work. Extra effort is required on our part and it is part of loving them for Christ

  13. We need to pray harder for our youth… I am encouraged that I volunteer for Kid’s Ministry.. building their foundations early will mean they will be more secured as they face challenges as a youth then as an adult.

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