Earlier this month, I wrapped up my Children, Youth and Family Certification School through Vibrant Faith Ministries and Wartburg Seminary. Over the next few months I will be sharing a bit about the experience and a lot of what I learned.
In the past thirty years, numerous studies have emerged looking at youth and the church; namely looking at why there has been a decline in church involvement as these children grow into adults. A couple of somewhat disheartening facts:
· 61% of today’s young adults (twentysomethings) feel they are spiritually disengaged thought they once attended church
· 40% of 18-29 year olds who attended church no longer do so
· An estimated 40-50% of high school graduates will fail to stick with their faith
So how do we fix it? How do we turn around these staggering trends? Well unfortunately there is no magic pill or silver bullet. In fact, the research shows that it is more about how deeply a young person is engaged in their faith while in high school than anything else. But here are some of the key behaviors that tend to correlate with young people remaining active in their faith and church after high school:
1) Faith practices in the home. This is not a family going to church together. This is a family having faith practices they do together outside of worship. They pray together. They study the Bible together. They sit down and talk about life through the lens of their faith.
2) Youth who are actively involved in worship. They don’t just attend but they are in the band, reading Scripture, and assisting with Communion.
3) High schoolers who serve and have relationships with younger children. They help with VBS, serve in Sunday School, or just stop and have conversations with the little one.
4) Older adults take an active interest in the youth. They involve them in the activities of the church. They know the kids by name. They seek to have deep, caring relationships that make the youth feel a welcomed part of the community of faith.
Over the years, the church (as a whole not just ours) has tried to think of new, flashy plans and cool ways to make youth want to be part of the church. In reality, it boils down to something really simple: relationships. Relationships in the home, in the church, between people. The really amazing thing for us here at Living Lord is that it’s in our mission statement: Connecting with God. Connecting with others. Connecting with what God is doing in the world.
In youth ministry, we will be looking to grow the opportunities for our youth to build these ties. I would ask you to think on how you can engage the youth you know in the church. And if you don’t know any, think on how you can get to know them. They aren’t just the future of the church, they are the NOW of the church.
How do we help them become 'fishers of men'?