Essential Church


Sam Rainer: Loosing late teens

The generational battle reaches a flash point when teens reach the age of sixteen. This critical juncture of a young person's life is where the church begins to lose the majority of people in the battle over generations. As the chart below details, what became clearly evident through our research is that most of the dropouts leave the church between the ages of seventeen and nineteen.

Percentage gain/loss for age categories in the church

  • Between 15 and 16 +1%
  • Between 16 and 17 -15 %
  • Between 17 and 18 -24%
  • Between 18 and 19 -29%
  • Between 19 and 20 -5%

Note from Josh: What this means is this. If you had 100 15 year olds in your youth group, only 40 of them would still be around at age 19:

These losses are considerable. In just three short years of a teen's life, he or she makes the decision to leave the church. By age twenty-one, most dropouts are basically already gone. In order to stop the mass exodus, churches must renew their focus on those in the mid to late teens. While the church must remain focused on the discipleship of people of all ages, someone celebrating their sweet sixteen in your church should make you evaluate where that teen stands spiritually. Indeed, essential churches begin the discipleship process even earlier in a child's life.

Rainer III, Sam S. (2008-09-01). Essential Church . B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.


Sam Rainer is speaking as part of the All Star Sunday School Training Team. To attend an event, or host an event. see