Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why do they leave when they graduate?

I am thankful to hear that there is a stirring in some of the leaders within the churches of the Jefferson Baptist Association (Jefferson County, Missouri). Recently the question has been asked, "why are teenagers leaving the church when the graduate and what can be done to keep them." Well, I would love to have a little conversation about this for those who would like to chime in. The reason why I am excited to hear that there is a stirring is because I think that people are waking up to realize that many, if not most, of the people in our "youth ministries" today are unregenerate and have never experienced the "new birth" that is in Jesus Christ. Second, there is a different phenomenon going on...that is that we are seeing people that are "graduating" from youth ministries and they are not entering in what should be "mature Christian adulthood" within the congregation. They are half-hearted about participating within the body of believers, they don't really know what it means to be accountable, etc.

There is a book that I am reading through regarding some of these issues. Now, as I would not agree with everything in this book, it has been useful on some points, and I would like for our Student Ministry Team at Rockport to discuss it's contents. The name of the book is "Family Driven Youth Ministry" by Mark DeVries. It has been sitting on my shelf now for quite some time and I am just now getting around to reading it. On page 26, I would like to quote the following statement.

The crisis in youth ministry is, simply put, that the ways we have been doing youth ministry have not been effective in leading our young people to mature Christian adulthood. Even with the massive increase in funding and training for youth ministry, even with the exponential increase in the number of resources available to those of us doing youth ministry, we are seeing no appreciable increase in the percentage of adults in our culture who are living out their faith for themselves.

Now, obviously there are some flaws with the above statement, however I would like to look at the intent of the quote that we have failed to present people as "mature Christian adults." I can't agree more. Perhaps the reason is because many, if not most, have failed to actually preach the gospel in their youth ministries (like me), thereby most of their teenagers have never heard their need to repent of their sins and to trust in Christ. Or perhaps even those with a great teaching and preaching of the gospel, fail to realize that having young people together just for the sake of "having young people together" makes no good sense at all.

Well, I have already commented more than I wanted to for this first post, because I am curious what others would say to this.


kristi said...

I agree, in part, with the quote in the book. However, I don't think we live out our faith for ourselves, but rather, to glorify Christ. Our youth need to hear the gospel, first and foremost. I think complacency is a primary issue. The local church youth group is a safe, wholesome environment for our kids. But, many of the local church youth groups are simply keeping the kids "busy". The question is busy with what? We can keep them busy with great things like the "Don't Waste Your Life" conference, and other such things that don't sacrifice spiritual maturity, but also, get them involved with one another. Our youth were involved with prayer, worship, getting to know one another. And, they had fun, too.

John said...

I think the biggest problem is that most churches have allowed and encouraged families to hand over the raisning of their teen agers to some guy who is still quite often a child himself who we call "youth pastor".

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong

..."we are seeing no appreciable increase in the percentage of adults in our culture who are living out their faith for themselves."

For themselves is referring to living it out on their own, without the assistance of the "youth group."

I don't believe that the author was referring to living out faith to benefit ones self.

Amy said...

Hey there Aaron - thought I'd chime in... Who allows these young people to become busy in the affairs of the world? I would venture to guess it is church parents and often times, church staff. I know that I have erroneously viewed the church in competition with the world (esp. with youth and children) when in fact "great is He that is in you than he that is in the world." We have more to offer not less. One of the offerings of the church should be the importance of the older folks teaching the younger folks. My best relationships growing up were with "old" people! It's easy to live up to expectations of those your age when you are young - we need to place higher marks in the their paths. That would mean us - Christian adults.