I thought it was just my generation who was disillusioned with church but I'm reading more and more from 20's and 30's who feel the same way. I was surprised because I thought all the changes were appealing to this generation - a driving force for change (in lots of good ways, I'm not being sarcastic). We caught the tail end of the Jesus Movement. Another driving force for change 30-40 years ago. Seems God sends such forces every 40 years or so.
I miss worship most. Fellowship, sometimes. But we don't have young kids anymore. Ours our 19-27 and they'd be finding their way anyway, even if we were still actively involved with a non-virtual faith community. I think I would still want non-virtual faith community for my kids - despite it's imperfections. But we did that and I find my kids feeling the same way about church right now as we do, even though we thought we were pretty careful about our conversations. Our personal wrestlings have less to do with people (nothing to do with specific people) and more to do with ideas and institutions. We gave our kids opportunities immersed in their faith community and opportunities out in the world in equal parts. Some of my kids still have a couple of those relationships. Although I see some of them growing in their personal faith and one recently discovering pastors she enjoys listening to, most of them aren't interested in church right now.
Why do kids need a faith community? To see a diverse group of adults individually and as a community modeling faith. Peers with similar values and experiences. A history together. Opportunity to learn about the history of faith they won't get anywhere else. Traditional history and experiential history. There is no perfect place. There are no perfect people. There are wonderful people and people who drive your crazy no matter where you go. And God is God. God is the same. He doesn't change. Although giving is important I don't even think you can decide based on what you have to give and leave because you think you don't have anything to give but I don't know.
Why do our kids also need to be engaged in the world beyond the faith community? Because the longer you isolate yourself, the harder it is to step outside the door. If you didn't learn to love the world like Jesus does as a child - do you think it gets easier? Somehow, I think not.
Virtual is nice but the hard knocks of real life is what socialization, building confidence and self-esteem is all about. And that's where the scriptures come from and what scripture is for - real life. Hebrew identity wasn't me and mine. Hebrew identity included spouse, family, extended family, community. Even God is three and we are His children. Even God was the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob...and different tribes had different places. You're welcome to explore any of this in scripture and see what God will show you.
People used to keep the call to "not forsake the gathering together of the saints" by gathering with those within walking distance and sharing that life of faith and worshipping together and that was enough. And yes, a rift was eternal (not really but you understand.) You had your neighborhood in common - whoever lived there, whatever happened there during the week and maybe for generations. Today we drive and drive and drive into other towns and neighborhoods to fellowship with people hoping to find a place where we "fit." Some people move. Some people drive. Some people stop looking. That's all I can say because right now we're still among those who have stopped looking. It just surprised me to hear so many families with young children saying the same thing.
I understand the whys but hey....let's worry!