Monday, June 22, 2009

Reflecting on a disturbing statistic

There has been quite a bit of buz concerning the latest stats about the number of young people raised in the church who abandon the church and even the faith once they graduate from high school. In light of these trends Kimberly Wagner over at True Woman has posted some thoughts for the church to consider.

    • 69–94 percent of Christian youth forsake their faith after leaving high school.
    • An additional 64 percent loss after college graduation.
    • 75 percent loss of students from The Assemblies of God churches within one year of high school graduation.
    • 88 percent loss of students from churches within the Southern Baptist Convention.
    • 94 percent fallout within two years of high school graduation was reported by Josh McDowell Ministries.1
  • What is the problem?

    A heavy burden for the next generation of Christian leaders caused my husband to spend an extended period seeking God's guidance and direction for insight into this growing trend. What he came away with resulted in (for us) a completely new approach toward ministry.

    We grew up in the "program-driven model" of doing church. That's all we'd ever known or experienced. My husband surrendered to ministry when only 13 years old and was asked to preach a message at youth camp the very next evening! He was called to pastor his first church when he was barely 18, before he even started college. We kind of "slid into" the pattern of "doing ministry" the only way we knew how. But after seeking the Lord on His view of the church, my husband came to a few different conclusions than what we'd practiced most of our lives.

    We noticed our young families were spending more evenings attending church activities than they spent at home, often dragging young ones through the church door, rushing them into some childcare program, dashing down a hall to slip into an adult Bible study class without even having time to eat an evening meal until possibly 9:00 at night! We started counting up how many hours that our church was dividing up the family in order to have "spiritual activities." We were alarmed by what we discovered.
  • Read the entire article HERE.
What should be the church's response to this trend?

Do you think these stats are acurate? Are there any "qualifiers" for these stats? For instance, those young people who depart for only a season but return.


Ryan H. said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the stats are accurate (though I do suspect there are other factors at work here, too). The American church is going to dramatically shrink in the next few generations, largely because the church has done an astonishingly horrible job at preparing Christian youth. It's not just a failure of family--I'd be quicker to attribute it to a failure of the Church to provide a real education in the faith so our younger brothers and sisters have some intellectual foundation to what they hold to.

Outside of those who attend Christian schools, the Christian youth are by and large getting none of the essential philosophical and historical education through which they can really ground themselves. We give them mamby-pamby youth groups with simple Bible lessons, but that's not what they need.

The church, really, needs to become more academic, and not just from the pulpit. We need to start teaching the legacy of Christianity and Christian thought, from Irenaeus to Augustine to Aquinas to Calvin to Kirkegaard to Plantinga. We need to equip the next generation of Christians with a rigorous intellectual rooting for their faith.

If our youth does not understand Christianity, how can we expect them to combat the constant assault of a culture that strives to undermine the tenets of the faith?

Noel said...

I agree…churches might be so program driven that it is disrupting time families spend together, but the fault lies directly at the feet of the parents. The parents are given the task to disciple their children, and instead they have them so busy they are never home, and if they are home, they are watching TV or playing video games. (I’m preaching to myself here)

The reason the church has become so “program driven” is because that’s what the parents expect and maybe...even demand. The church has catered to the silent expectations of families who want programs to disciple their kids, thus alleviating their consciences’ when they realize they’ve never opened the Bible with their children. Nothing replaces parents, and when kids leave the church because they’ve never been grounded in God’s word, never been discipled, and have never seen the priority for this in the lives of their parents, they fall away from the church and sometimes reject the truth altogether.

The fault isn’t the church (although changes could be made)…the root of this begin at home. Believe me, as parent, I have massive anxiety over this. My husband and I have decided to withdraw from a church program we love to spend that night at home, eating dinner together and teaching our boys around our kitchen table. It was hard to make that break, but SO necessary.