The George Barna web site is a wealth of information about current church trends. In the linked article, Barna writes these conclusions based on surveys conducted in 2006:
"Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity. Among the most common of those endeavors are using a Ouija board, reading books about witchcraft or Wicca, playing games involving sorcery or witchcraft, having a "professional" do a palm reading or having their fortune told. Conversely, during the past year fewer than three out of every ten churched teenagers had received any teaching from their church about elements of the supernatural."
"Most Americans have a period of time during their teen years when they are actively engaged in a church youth group. However, Barna’s tracking of young people showed that most of them had disengaged from organized religion during their twenties."
When I first moved to Hooterville, I remember seeing grade school children trading Pokemon cards during a worship service and I expressed concern to the minister about it. My concerns were met with indifference as I suspect the minister knew the likely outcome of addressing the issue with parents. The cards were wildly popular and to suggest a child leave them at home, or not play with them at all because of their occultish influence, would be to incite a riot with children and their parents. Instead, the minister had an "ignore it, and it will go away" type of attitude. Pokemon is a fleeting memory now, however, an even darker influence has moved in to fill the void: the Harry Potter series of books and games.
This isn't a Pokemon or Harry Potter rant, rather, it is a lamenting of what Barna observed above – that less than 1 in 4 churched teenagers receives any teaching concerning the supernatural, and, by their 20's, most teens have left organized religion.
In the church I last attended, there was a time I was involved in the 'worship committee' and the subject of youth came up. The church was rigidly traditional, driven by an iron-fisted pastor who was in turn controlled by the 'old money' in the church, who threatened to cut him off if he ever changed from a traditional to contemporary format. In one meeting where the subject of youth came up, the pastor scoffed "I don't care about the youth, they will learn to love tradition just like everyone else." Several of us thought the youth should be surveyed, so I devised a questionaire which was distrubuted by the high school Sunday school teachers. Among the questions were "are you born again" and "have you ever heard from God"?
Now many of the high school kids had completed confirmation and joined the church when they were 14. Several of them marked the survey "NO" for both questions. Reaction to the survey was frenzied – the Sunday school teachers panicked and spent several weeks reciting the 4 spiritual laws, etc., and lead the class in the 'Sinners Prayer' several times, while the family of one teen was so incensed by the survey, they quit the church. After all, they were members of the church and therefore saved; what's this 'born again' stuff all about? And 'hearing from God', isn't that what we pay a minister for?!?
All too often, the institutional church faults people who leave as lacking faith or being back-slidden, etc. The truth however seems to be that the insitutional church fails to present the real Jesus, and often discourages members from seeking God directly and stands in the way of the supernatural (the moving of the Holy Spirit).
If children and teens aren't encouraged to seek the real living Jesus, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit who brings gifts and actively teaches us, is it any wonder they turn to the occult just to experience something spiritual?