Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Youth Who Quit Church after High School

I found this information on Art Rogers blog--HERE and thought I would add a comment. He has more coming that I may share as well in another post.

From Lifeway Research via Joe Ball, Youth Ministry guru for the Kentucky Baptist Convention,

Of the teens who are active members of churches during High School, but walk away after they graduate…

  • 80% are from families who are NOMINAL Christians. They attend church, but that is about it. They are not living lives of personal depth.
  • 50% are from unchurched homes. This means the teen attends Youth Group and church, but the rest of the family does not.
  • 20% are from churched families whose members are pursuing individual and personal relationships with God.

EDIT: For Clarification, I asked about the meanings of the numbers. Here's what I received.

  • Of actively churched teens whose parents are nominal Christians, 80% bail and 20% stick.
  • Of actively churched teens whose parents are unchurched, 50% bail and 50% stick.
  • Of actively churched teens whose parents are growing Christians, 20% bail and 80% stick.

80-50-20 is not a total of teens,
but of those bail in three different categories.

This shows that the worst thing you can do as a parent is to not take your faith very seriously. If its hit or miss with you--they learn it's not very important or vital for them to continue. They will learn the lesson you provide--if faith is not a priority for you, no surprise, it won't be for them either. If church or your faith is more of a chore and a burden for you--something you're just expected to do but you don't really want to do, then they learn that lesson. They get inoculated against the life and power of the real thing by seeing the passionless, mundane faith you present before them. They get just a taste of Christianity and they see it doesn't really change you all that much, it doesn't really make their family any better, it doesn't really improve their life much so who needs it.

I thought it was interesting that those youth who's parents don't attend at all have a greater likelihood of staying involved in church. If you think about it, it makes sense. They aren't going because Mom & Dad are making them. They are going b/c they want to, because their friends are there or b/c there are things to do. It's more of a "want to" than a "have to". These kids are going in spite of their parents--because they see something better.

Of course, I'm glad that the best likelihood for continued church involvement is for those parents who take their faith seriously. They will see your example and respond to it. Your involvement improves their involvement. But do notice it's not a guarantee. 20% still leave even from committed families. Prayer is still very vital.

How should we respond as a church--the best thing for us to concentrate on would be to get those parents who are Nominal in their faith to be committed to their faith--while it has benefits for them--it will also have great benefits for the future of the church.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,


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