This week a blog post called Top 10 Reasons Kids Leave Church got shot all around the internet on Facebook and Twitter because it’s a common struggle for church leaders across our nation. The issue taps into fear which we have been conditioned to respond to by local news, CNN, and Fox News. Connect to a fear and people listen, worry, and then share their fear with others. Rather than live in fear I choose to believe that the church Jesus founded is unstoppable, it’s in motion, and it’s beautifully messy. I see teens and college students all across this nation not only plugged into the church, they are making a difference and shaping the future of the church. As a family and student pastor I am engaging the next generation on a weekly basis and I have hope.
You may be seeing teens leave your church and if so you need to ask yourself hard questions about why your church is structured the way it is. Why do you do what you do? You and your church leadership have to decide what you should do to help reach teens, kids, and their families and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. If you are seeing the next generation leave your church then stop blaming other churches for your failure to make an impact and take responsibility. Help solve the problem instead of complaining about it.
Our team has been striving to reach the next generation since day one of our existence seven years ago. Here are 10 steps we try to consistently take to help kids, teens, and college students connect to the church…
- Lift Up Jesus // in worship, in our leadership, as we pray, as we serve, as we cast vision, as we teach, as we plan, as we process, in everything it all begins with make much of Jesus and not our doctrine, denominations, or strategies. Jesus.
- Teach The Bible With Clarity // we teach God’s word with clarity so when people walk out of any environment they know what to do. The goal is to be clear not to impress. The goal is help people confront truth and then live truth. When the next generation leaves church confused why would they stick in the long run?
- Unify Generations Through the Great Commission // every Sunday we watch teens and college students worship together with every other generation. We unite behind the goal Jesus has already given. We don’t unite on preference, we unite around the call of Jesus.
- Empower Teens and Kids to Serve Now // not later, not when they get older, not when they are mature! Let the next generation serve now in the church.
- Connect Kids and Teens to Small Group // spiritual growth happens for kids and teens when they have adult mentors speaking into their life. The next generation needs relationships with older adults who will model following Jesus.
- Program With the Next Generation in Mind // as we plan out worship gatherings the teen and college student have to be in mind. How will they connect with what is happening on stage?
- Lead Kids and Teens to Follow Jesus not Their Feelings // emotions come and go and the church has to help the next generation move beyond the feelings of religion to embrace the new life they have in Jesus.
- Encourage Personal Spiritual Growth // we have to empower the next generation to be self feeders. We have to help them encounter Jesus not just at church but in their daily life through Scripture, discipleship, prayer, and service.
- Fight the “Consumer Mentality” // we have to help the next generation understand the Kingdom of God revolves around the idea of sacrifice and not selfishness.
- Be a Refuge for the Broken // the church has to be a safe place for broken people (all of us) to experience the healing and grace of the Healer, Jesus. The next generation has to know the church is a place where it’s safe to struggle, doubt, question and even hurt. It also has to be a safe place to invite their broken friends.
Would love to know what your church is doing to help kids and teens connect with the church after they graduate?
If I remember the numbers right it said about 70% leave after high school and half return later. So if 30% stay and 35% return, there is 35% who do not return. I am not sure this is as bleak as the author painted. Sure, 100% would be great -but I think the church may be getting more right than wrong. Curious to know how the data was collected and what these numbers have been for past decades.
I think you hit the nail on the head with #5. We need to be living our faith as an honest, truthful example. When we mess up, we must fess up. Thanks for the post!
Thanks Matt, I hear stats being thrown around all the time. You are right…where do they come from. Who knows. Truth is most churches are not reaching people and most churches are not making an impact on the next generation. Gotta keep working!