Christianity Today that deals with the issue of the those who are leaving the Church AND the faith -- the so-called "Young Doubters." It is a fair and reasoned article that offers none of the simplistic answers so common today (put in a praise band, make church like the mall, etc.).
Others have probably read and commented on this in depth article but I was caught by the turn of a phrase. The problem today isn't those who are unchristian, but that so many are ex-Christian. Strictly speaking, they are not an "unreached people group." They are our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, and friends. They have dwelt among us. And now they are gone...
Some have suggested that we should not panic and that younger folks have always taken a "hiatus" from the Church until young adulthood and responsibility seems to call them back. Others are not so sure the situation is the same. Young adulthood is not what it used to be, marriage is delayed longer or not even sought out, and many of these are not having children -- children being sort of God's wake up call to young adults. Still others suggest that the variety of choices or non-Christian options has snagged some (especially, apparently Wiccan). Some point to a hardening of those who have left -- something not particularly isolated to religion and faith but that covers much of their life and thinking. In the end, those "leavers" are not leaving for one reason but for many reasons and therefore there is not one answer to draw them back.
Now, no one is saying Christianity is on the verge of extinction. But there is a certain seriousness about the number of those leaving and the reasons why. In the end, it seems that there might be more of a common thread to this than first expected. The author's own conclusion is that "I realized that most leavers had been exposed to a superficial form of Christianity that effectively inoculated them against authentic faith." A "seeker" style Christianity with its low commitment, high emphasis on spectator/entertainment worship, small groups, and its acceptance of the "me" at the center of things has kept many of these from knowing true Christianity. In addition, the inability of orthodox Christianity to answer their doubts and shepherd them through those doubts has left them cut off from the Church and the faith -- at the very moment they were most in need of the Church and of the nurturing care of the faithful.
I might suggest here that many of those "leavers" went to youth groups and national youth gatherings in which cutting edge Christian music and provocative and anti-traditional Christian speakers tried to show that you don't have to belong to your grandfather's church in order to be Christian. I might suggest that but I won't dwell on the well documented failings of our youth programs. Maybe I will let the author speak for himself (and he sounds pretty Lutheran here): There's nothing wrong with pizza and video games, nor with seeker-sensitive services, nor with low-commitment small groups that introduce people to the Christian faith. But these cannot replace serious programs of discipleship and catechism.
The sad truth underlying all of this is that these "dechurched" young people are much harder to reclaim than "unchurched" and this is true for all age groups. Unless we are willing to heed some of the warning signs and make sure that it is a Biblical faith that is being proclaimed and taught, a confessional, creedal, and catechetical perspective that is the starting point and guide through life, a liturgical setting in which the focus is on the means of grace and not the person, and a mercy driven - servant shaped life together that directs our baptismal vocation, we will have more and more of these hard nuts to crack and more and more articles lamenting the loss of those who were once one of us.