Recently I read an article on the Youth Ministry 360 Blog by Andy Blanks called “Is Your Youth Ministry Reaching Post-Christian Teenagers?” I would recommend you trying to go find it. The focus of the article had to do with the ever-increasing topic of “Why are teenagers leaving the church?” I thought it was an interesting topic to put a few thoughts down in an article on. Today in Sunday school with the middle and high school students we asked them why they think teens leave the church. Here’s what they said:
People’s parents aren’t making them go anymore.
They are lazy.
College makes them busy and they are tired when it comes to getting up on Sunday morning.
Some people have had bad experiences at church.
Some people only want to go to church to get things because they are consumer-driven so they don’t think the church has anything more to give them.
Some high schoolers have never owned their faith.
They don’t stop going to church, they start going somewhere else.
They desire to lead, but there are no opportunities in their church so they leave to do church plants or non-profit work.
Students don’t have a sense of ownership in the church they attend.
I thought these were all good reasons and I was impressed with what these students said. I think that even though I could quote a bunch of statistics from research polls and the Barna group, I really just want to say a few things. First, I do think that students struggle with staying in church after high school. Second, I think that even though programs have good intentions they can be a contributing factor in young adults discontinuing church attendance since they are mostly required to go to the “adult” service once they finish high school. Third, I think that there has to be a real sense of ownership for students within their local church and in their individual faith.
God has made us to be stewards of his resources and one another. We must continue to work on this issue and try to retain younger people in church through giving them roles in the worship service, mentoring them, and being youth workers who know their families and try to give resources for them to succeed spiritually and in the phase of life they are in now.
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