Preventing Young Adult, Church, Drop Out

LifeWay Research recently completed a study and report that identifies why most young adults are leaving the church and what causes the few to stay.The purpose of this blog entry is to amplify the positive, by identifying in the LifeWay Research report, what causes the few to stay. This information is based on the article by LifeWay Research titled LiveWay Research: Parents, Churches Can Help Teens Stay in Church.

Young adults who continue attending church have…

1. Integrated Faith
Integrating faith is more than attending church, joining in on youth group events; or praying a prayer for salvation. Integrating faith requires moving from observer to participant, from going to church to being the church, by personally embracing Jesus’ mission.

As presented by Stetzer, in the LifeWay article, “Teens are looking for more from a youth ministry than a holding tank with pizza…. They look for a church that teaches them how to live life. As they enter young adulthood, church involvement that has made a difference in their lives gives them a powerful reason to keep attending.”

2. Heard Relevant Teaching
To be reverent to God, the church must be relevant to the culture. If the church’s teaching isn’t relevant, then it is irrelevant, and this is irreverent. For young adults to stay, they must grow up relating to God’s timeless truth in real life ways. Relevant teaching doesn’t minimize God’s truth; it amplifies the application of His truth. Reggie Joiner puts it this way “use what is culural to communicate what is timeless” (Max Q, by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall, page 45).

McDonnell states in the LifeWay article, “Attending worship is the basic level of involvement for most who attend church at all. Many never add to or go beyond this as teens…. If as teens they can’t relate to the sermons at their church or don’t enjoy the worship style, then as young adults they can easily fall away from their only connection to the church.”

3. A Spiritual Mentor, Who Is An Adult
Relationships create staying power. As Bill Allison of Cadre International states, “No Relationships = No Ministry; Know Relationships = Know Ministry”. But these relationships must exist in context of Jesus’ mission. The mission to “make disciples.” This is spiritual mentoring, and it takes intentionality. Adults must authenticate Jesus to the younger generations.

As McConnell says in the LifeWay article, “Meaningful relationships with adults at church help teenagers see church as a place they belong”…. “Investment time in young people lives out the love of Jesus Christ in a tangible way”….”It proves that a young person belongs at church. It can help connect the dots to help a teen integrate their faith into their life. And it gives the teen a connection to church after graduation when many of their peers are no longer around.”

4. Parents Who Authenticate Jesus, In All Arenas Of Life
In twelve years of student ministry, I have observed a consistent pattern – students who are passionately in love with Jesus and live His mission, have parents who are passionately in love with Jesus and live His mission. The LifeWay Research substantiates my observation that these students seldom exit the church upon graduation – instead they continue to grow in loving God and loving others as active leaders in the church and community. For additional thoughts on this read: A Strong Word to Parents and Parenting Teenagers to Passionately Love God.

As stated in the LifeWay article, “Teens who, at age 17, have parents who are authentic examples of Christian faith -proactive and consistent in living out their faith – also are more likely to keep attending as young adults. Across the board, 20 percent more of those who stayed indicated they had parents or family members who discussed spiritual things, gave them spiritual guidance and prayed together.”

When children and youth integrate faith in Jesus, into the core of their being, they gain staying power. This integration must begin at home, through parents who authenticate Jesus. It must be completed by the church, through spiritual mentors and relevant teaching. This partnership for spiritual formation will engage today’s younger generation to continue as active participants, in the church, when they are young adults.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Preventing young adult, church, drop out (Ron Klabunde’s summary of the Lifeway research. If you skip Lifeway’s articles, check […]

  2. Hi there Ron, my name is Trevor.

    I am developing a keen interest in spiritual belief, actually, I have always been interested, I just haven’t yet found answers to my questions. I feel like I am getting close tho.

    I haven’t read the the report, but do you think that most youth today are looking for more? They need guidance, mentoring, reassurance, personal development, and more often than not, help decrypting the Bible. The Bible can be an excellent resource if you know what you are looking for and where to find it. Sometimes, I feel like it is written in a foregein language, but once it is explained to me, it makes a lot of sense.

    What’s more, I am trying to understand the connection between the power of the subconscious mind and my own faith and beliefs. I know I have a lot of work to do, but with the right mentoring, I may just find what I am looking for.

    Best wishes
    Trevor

  3. Trevor,

    I am really glad to read how sincere you are in pursuing truth. To answer your first question – my observation is that most people (students included) are “looking for more”. There seems to be this since in most people that there is more to life than what we presently experience. This longing for a life that we think is right in front of us, but when we seek to embrace it – it vanishes. Then we see something else that that we think is the “more” that we need that will fully satisfy our longing, but once again we try to embrace it and it either vanishes or fails to fill our longing for more. There are many ways to do this – money, material possessions, bigger homes, cheep sex, promotions, drunkenness, etc. This is a very limited list. These pursuits are nothing more than cheep imitations for all God has created for us to enjoy. So where is “looking for more” finally satisfied? Personally, I have found this satisfaction in relationships – my relationship with God and my relationships with others. As I grow in my relationship with God through His son Jesus I learn how to have healthy relationships with others. As I discover more and more who God is and how he designed me to live – I become more satisfied in life, I experience greater joy, and I am filled with greater hope.

    I hope these thoughts are useful as one more piece in the puzzle as you continue to pursue truth and a relationship with God.

    Ron

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