Stopping the Youth Exodus from Church

If you read about such things then you know that an alarming number of church-going young people stop going to church after they leave home after high school.  The figure is something like 70-75% of youths who go to church drop out by the time they hit age 18.  Some of them come back when they go through life changes (marriage/children/the end of a favorite TV show/whatever), but many don’t.

How can we reverse that trend?  I’ll give you one published answer and add one of my own.

In the book Essential Church, the authors point out the young people who regularly pray and read their Bibles have a much lower drop out rate.  Ergo, if we encourage these behaviors in young people, well, that’d be smart of us.

Here’s an additional thing we might consider:  Maybe we need to change what we’re doing in church.  A lot of churches having a Sunday morning service, Sunday school, Sunday night service, and Wednesday night service.  That’s a whole lot of time where we sit around and have somebody talk to us.  Maybe we need fewer lectures and more of…anything else.  Now, I write this as someone who lectures for a living.  I’m not saying that lecturing is bad for me or in general, I’m just saying that maybe we’re doing something wrong.  Our response to the fact that people are barely halfway listening is to talk more.  Maybe that’s not a recipe for success.

Here’s what I’m throwing out there–tell me if this is crazy.  Once a week give young Christians options to spend their time doing what they are passionate about and doing it in a Christian context.  Do kids like to hike?  Go on a hike with a leader who will talk about the beauty and diversity of God’s Creation.  Are the kids musical?  Let them make music while being led by someone who talks about how to use music to communicate God’s love.  Are there some deep thinkers in your group?  Let them learn about great Christian thinkers of the past and/or have a truly in depth Bible study.  Instead of looking at their relationship with God as something that is just relevant inside the church, we could help young people apply that relationship to other areas of their lives.

Well, what do you think?  Am I on to something?