I began questioning the church about 4 years ago when I was in my senior year of high school, but it was three years ago that I stopped believing in the church and only about a year and a half ago that I admitted to myself that I don't think there is a God out there. I am leaving the church for purely logical, historical, and moral reasons. I still live at home, finishing college. I already confronted my mother with the fact that I have "doubts". (I didn't want to break her heart right away.) I have been faking activity so well for the past three years that no one has noticed.
How do I tell my parents that I no longer believe in God?
Mikki, Before you say anything, you need to think through the consequences. It is possible or likely that your parents will make you move out? Are you going to a church school, where this will threaten your honor-code standing? If the absolute worst possible reactions happen, are you prepared to deal with them (money saved, place to stay, alternative plans for school, etc.)?
It's really unpleasant, but a lot of kids in college find that they have to keep pretending until they graduate. If I'm doing the math right, that should be in the spring, is that correct?
As for actually telling them - you completely own that. You can break it to them in whatever way is most comfortable. Some people never tell. Others have their name removed and wait until they turn up missing on their parents' membership records. I sent my dad an email. Some people do it over the phone. Others in person. You have to gauge your level of comfort with the conversation, and how much distance do you need to protect yourself emotionally from what is likely to be a really tough conversation.
Finally, I don't know if there's ever a good way to do this so that believers actually understand. One of the most disappointing things for my in my loss of faith is that as wonderful as my ex may have been, and as awesome as her parents and my dad are, none of them really get it. What I've experienced and how it has shaped me is completely outside of their conceptual framework. They try, but they just don't understand. Be prepared for your parents to be not just upset, but genuinely baffled.
As always, these thoughts are worth exactly what you paid for them. Good luck.
Yeah, I think for a lot of people, finding out you're leaving the church is a bit more palatable than finding out you're an atheist. I've encountered a couple of people who are questioning the church's truth, and when I share my story - I lost belief in God 1st, and a testimony of the church as a consequence - they back away in fear and never contact me again.
Good luck with this.