Statistics from North America suggest that large numbers of young people leave the church once they go to university. Some researchers estimate that between 61 and 88% of Christian youth in the United States leave the church in their early 20's.
But young people in the developing world face very different pressures and challenges to their faith.
For many, those pressures are economic. They need to move far away from family and friends, and their church home, in order to seek work to support their impoverished families. Usually, that work will be low-paid with long hours - often 7 days a week - leaving no opportunity for fellowship with other believers.
One of our Cambodian Alongsiders, Bunhak, moved from his home town to Phnom Penh in search of work and study opportunities. Bunhak eventually found work at a fastfood restaurant. Long hours and a salary of around USD$80 a month, meant that Bunhak spent almost every waking hour either working or studying. There was little opportunity even to find local Christians in this big unfamiliar city, let alone join a church.
Urbanization is impacting developing nations all over the world, as young people - with fewer ties or responsibilities - move to the cities seeking economic opportunities. For many, this is a positive experience. But for others it can be disorienting, discouraging and even dangerous.
Alongsiders is seeking to learn more about their experiences and find ways to connect them into local churches on arrival in the city. With our wide network of partner churches - both rural and urban - we are uniquely placed to connect rural youth with local churches once they move to an urban center.