Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
The bigger question to ask is why are cradle Orthodox, and not just in the US, all over the world, leaving Orthodox? We have a very active youth program here at my parish, and I am proud at what God has accomplished through our efforts, but alas, there are twice as many youth that got away and we can only pray in a few years when they settle down to start their families God brings them back. So why are the top reasons folks leave Orthodoxy?
From my experience interacting with ethnic youth who've left their parishes (Ethiopians, Copts, Greeks) the biggest beef I always interpreted as being a kind of culture clash. A lot of these young folks, even if outside of the US, feel like they are a different generation, a different culture than the Old World of Orthodox. Here in the America it is exceptionally accentuated by the fact that all Americans kind of feel this way about life. Is the shove it (censored for mods
) approach to conflict. The first instinct of being an American is to either fight a conflict or misunderstanding, or simply abandoned in for ego-boosting alternatives. Unfortunately it seems through our pop-culture we are exporting this caustic attitude across the world
The second issue I'd say is personality clashes. I'm willing to wager that when ANYONE cradle or convert, youth or elder, leaves a parish either to go to a different parish or to leave the Church entirely, there are contributing personality conflicts with somebody. Maybe they are beefing with the priests, maybe its the council, maybe its some body they ran into in the halls, maybe it is some kind of committee beef, but I have seen this happen several times. Further whenever I mediate conflicts for our teenagers and young adults at my parish, these personality conflicts are the number one issue. "They said this.." or "He did that.." or "She said we can't do this.." or "They told us one thing and now they're telling us another thing.." are the biggest complaints I hear and the majority of conflicts I have to help solve. Even among elders and leaders, I am on several committees at our parish, I have seen quarrels between priests, between bishops (!!), between gray-haired elders, between men and men, between women and women, between men and women, deacons, kids, everybody. The Church is real life, we bring our real lives with us, and life is on the line daily for a lot of matters. It is a struggle that reflects the human experience, and we are being healed by the Holy Spirit as we work it out together. Sometimes some folks just can't deal with the strife, either because they have idealistic expectations or they just don't have the patience. Some folks again leave to other parishes, others leave the Church for good. We can only pray about all these kinds of matters, but we should be addressing them in our discussions.
So to summarize all that blah blah I typed above
(1) Culture Shock
(2) Personality conflicts and personal misunderstandings
This is for cradles and converts alike, but young folks in particular.
There should be strict enforcement of the canon requiring a catechumen to attend 3 parish council meetings before chrismation.
Then they'll never come back
Speaking of which, I have a committee meeting on Sunday I am begrudgingly looking forward too