Session by Mark Matlock of Youth Specialties
MARK REGNERUS video interview
A lot of people misreport or misinterpret statistics. Some of the scientists publish in journals, shut down, and quit dealing with it. 65% of college students leaving their faith or declining in religiosity. If you didn’t go to college, though, there was only about a 5% difference. And in fact, the numbers showed going to college was actually better statistically in retaining religiosity. Not by much, but slightly.
If it isn’t college, what do you think is happening after graduation?
There are perceptions that the american university is actively hostile, but maybe its passively ambivalent. Acting like it doesn’t matter, which uptakes the attitude into personal viewpoints. One day you wake up one day and realize you haven’t been to church in months. The people most likely to lose their faith in college are the people already primed for the messages that are hostile. On any given campus, there will be some authoritative hostility but not widespread generally speaking. Apathy is taking over.
Dave Kinnamen decided to dive in deeper. YOU LOST ME.
3 mega groups of people leaving the faith: PRODIGALS, NOMADS, EXILES.
– rejected Christianity, left the faith.
– Two kinds of prodigals. Head and heart driven.
– Head driven “outthink” the church. “I don’t buy this as being credible.” They usually aren’t hostile.
– Heart prodigals. These are a lot more like the heart prodigal in Jesus’ parable. They don’t like the rules, the holiness, the tenant of purity, etc. Some have been wounded/hurt by the church.
– These are taking their faith out of the church, but still describe themselves as Christians. Katy Perry could be (in the past) considered a nomad.
– “Involvement in Christian community is not essential.”
– The importance of their faith has faded to them.
– Most are not angry or hostile to Christianity, but are “spiritual experimentalists”…..Katy Perry…
– Not inclined to be “separate” from the world.
– skeptical of institutions but not wholly disengaged.
– Sense God moving outside the walls of the church
– Disillusioned with slick shallow expressions of faith. They don’t feel true, authentic, or substantive.
– Not found faith to instruct their calling and gifts.
– Struggle when other Christians question their motives.
MOST people who don’t stay involved aren’t disengaging because they’re hostile…it’s because they don’t know how church engages them in their life.
DOES THE PROBLEM WITH THOSE WHO WANDER LIE WITH THE INDIVIDUAL OR THE CHURCHES WHO RAISED THEM? WHY? What’s the difference? Students won’t engage in student ministry for anything, but running, hustling, and being all in during 100 degree sports practices is no problem. Why? In sports or band, it’s about a higher cause with higher ownership. They’re willing to follow the rules because it affects everyone, not just his individual “goodness.” If a student isn’t at practice, absence is missed, they’re needed. Practices are the program. It’s not going and sitting and learning how to play, it’s DOING it. There has to be goal of connecting students to a greater community of faith. (Note: Colossians 3, “you” is plural).
Kara Powell’s Comments
What is it you measure for success?
It’s not very theologically grounded to ask how many people happen to show up? What we measure is what we get. Some churches measure how many students sit in seats, but we want to measure how our paid and volunteer staff connect with parents? How many parents are coming to training? How much 1 on 1 contact are they having? They also measure what percentage of students serve in other ministries.
AUSTIN’S ACTION POINT: What is it I need to do to make sure my students feel more ownership and more empowerment in our ministry? I don’t know the answer, just the void.