May 19, 2010

Lead Or Leave

Much has been made about the fact that so many teenagers, especially guys, leave the church soon after they graduate high school. In fact, I've read studies that put the number as high as 90% that leave the church between high school graduation & college graduation. The problem is fairly complex. Part of it is that we tailor children & youth ministries to appeal to a youth culture, but in many cases, once a student leaves the youth ministry, he or she enters a new church culture: the one of their parents or worse, their grandparents. Some people like to blame youth ministries & say that youth ministries are simply trying to draw a crowd & not really building disciples. While there's a good bit of truth in some of those ideas, it's way bigger than that. It's not just a youth ministry problem; it's a church problem. To take it a step further, it's a church leadership problem.

One of the biggest reasons why young adults walk away from the church is that they don't have a sense of real connection beyond their youth ministry. The bottom line is that many of us as leaders have failed to prepare students to lead in the church. Therefore, they leave the church. This generation desperately wants to be a part of something that matters. It may shock some people to imagine that more students get excited about a ministry project than about a pool party. When I was a teenager that wasn't the case, but this generation is different. They want their lives to count; that means they will only invest their lives in things they believe will count. Too many times we've failed to help them connect that sense of purpose to the mission of the church, & even more often we fail to give them opportunities to lead in a meaningful ministry setting. We've reduced discipleship to a classroom, to a book, to a program. Teaching is important, but some of the best teaching involves getting our hands dirty.

Churches & youth ministries have to work to equip their students to lead in the church if they don't want their students to leave the church. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Yes! "Nail on the head!"

Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing & I look forward to seeing you lead our teens to becoming mature believers. They have heart, but sometimes they need direction.

Jodie said...

I think that RFBC should develop a stronger college ministry. It is tough for us to find a place. We are involved in a Sunday school class but it would be good to have leadership in other events. We fellowship together, but it would still be nice to have some mentoring leaders.