How to keep young people in church.

The latest research indicates that 70% of the kids who grow up in our youth groups are not staying in church. Project that out for about ten years and we have disaster.

Based on data from Essential Church, the trend looks like this:

For a free sample of the book, see http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcF_PDF_Rainers_Essential_Church_Sample.pdf

Another good book on the subject is Ed Stetzer's Lost and Found.

Let's look at it more personally. My oldest son graduated from High School in 2004. He walked across the stage at church at the recognition ceremony along with 20 or so of his classmates. Most of them had been very active in youth group. Very few of them are active in church today. In fact, my son may be the only one.

If you are in the mood for a good depression, do the math at your church. Dig up the list of the kids that graduated five years ago. See if you can figure out how many of them are in church on Sunday. If you are average, the number will be about 70% have dropped out. Whatever the exact number is, it is depressing.

A lot of external reasons are given for this--reasons that have to do with the culture and technology and this and that. I'd like to look at it from a different perspective, taking Average Baptist Church as an example. This is not a mega church, but it is big enough to have several staff, including a full time Youth minister.

Someone said once that your life is perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting. This is just another way of saying you reap what you sow. It applies to us as individuals, and it applies to churches. Your church is perfectly organized to get the results you are currently getting. If you keep doing what you been doing you will keep getting what you been getting.

I'd guess Average Baptist Church spends $100,000 or more a year on youth. They have a full time Youth minister and a couple of interns. In addition to this, there appears to be a generous programming budget that goes to buy decent gear for the music program, literature, subsidize camp fees, pizza, supplies and all the rest. I'd be shocked if the total was not somewhere north of $100K a year.

This $100K creates a great youth program. No complaints whatsoever. They have great Sunday School, great teaching and music on Sunday night and Wednesday night. Camps. Retreats. Personal discipling by the youth minister and interns. It is all 5-star.

Until they graduate. Then, it pretty much fizzles to nothing. Pennies, instead of dollars are spent on college ministry. And we wonder why they don't come. This is not rocket science. Our behavior is perfectly designed to get the results we are now getting.

If this sounds like your church, here is a thought. Take about a third of resources you spend on youth and spend it on young adults.

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