The Future of Student Ministry and How We Stop Students From Leaving the Church

Every year I always see youth ministers take a shot at writing two types of post: “why are students leaving the church,” and ” the future of student ministry.” Both post always start some type of controversy, but never seem to offer any sort of practical solutions. However, did we ever stop to think that these two issues might actually be linked together? I believe that when we determine the course of where student ministry is going, we’ll also solve the issue of why students are leaving the church as well.

The Real Reason Why Students Are Leaving the Church

Everyone has their own opinion on why they believe students are leaving the church. I’ve read that its because of shallow ministries, lack of discipleship, poor theology, sex, and lack of spiritual growth from the student minister. I’ll be the first to admit that there are areas in student ministry that need to be improved on, but at the same time, I also believe we are all doing the best we can with what we got. If my heart is the same as your heart, then I know you’re giving all your blood, sweat, and tears to make sure your students know that true life is only found when they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. In my opinion, I believe none of the reasons listed above are why students are leaving the church.

The reason why we can’t come up with a viable answer is because we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. Let me ask you a question: when you walk into a typical church, what age group are you most likely to see missing? The answer is the 20 somethings. The reason why students are leaving the church isn’t a student ministry issue, its a church issue. Churches all over America are dropping the ball when it comes to reaching out to this age group. I live in a college town. We have a major University that has around ten thousand students who attend it. On top of this, we have a local community college that has just as many students, if not more. Now guess how many churches in my city have a college minister? Zero. The real reason why students are leaving the church is because the church has simply stopped reaching out to them, not because of bad student ministry. So rest assured, as long as the church, as a whole, continues to ignore this problem, our students will continue to leave the church at an alarming rate.

The Future of Student Ministry

So where do we go from here? If we accept this truth, what does it mean for the future of student ministry? I don’t believe developing a better student ministry is going to fix the problem, especially if the church won’t fix theirs. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve our ministries for our current students, but your efforts will be in vein for those who graduate. Now if the church is the problem, then that means it is also the solution, and student ministers get to be the ones who can lead in the change.

The future of student ministry is going beyond ministering to only middle school and high school students, but extending our reach and including college students in our scope. I believe this should be a natural progression for us for two reasons: (1) our culture has produced, and accepted, an extended adolescents phase, and since we work with adolescents, we should be willing to work with the next phase as well; and (2) we invest way too much into our students to just let them walk away from their faith. And truth be told, we’re being bad stewards of the gospel if we refuse to minister to our students in the next phase of their lives.

In the end, imagine what could happen if each one of us decided to protect our own investments, and include college ministry as a part of their work? I believe that the percentage of students leaving the church after they graduate would drop dramatically, because by protecting our own investments, we protect each others investments as well.

If you’re up to the task, but not sure how to go about it, I’ve got you covered. I’ll be writing a series of post called “Protecting Your Investment,” which will help you launch a college and career ministry at your church. I’ll admit, it’ll require some work at first, but I promise you, the pay off is well worth the effort.

 

 

 

40 Comments

  1. Love this. I am the college guy at my church as well and it definitely makes a difference. The point you made that I never thought of is the prolonged adolescence. This makes perfect sense and I can see it in my group. As your writing your next articles let me tell you something helpful we do. We transition our high school seniors the week after Easter their senior year into the college ministry. We allow them to double dip in the youth and college department. This gives them extra fringe benefits for their senior year, but more importantly... They will spend the first year of college transitioning in every aspect of life, so if they have already transitioned at church then it becomes a safe place for them. We actually have an entire curriculum package for our high school seniors called "transitions."
    • We've done that in the past but just during Summer, I like the idea of pushing it up earlier. I'm not the college guy at our church, but im trying to partner with them to get a small group of Seniors led by a few of the college people to help them transition all year.
    • Thanks for the love James. We've moved our seniors into our college ministry the moment they graduate. They're able to double dip as well. But I do like the idea of my seniors starting after Easter. I noticed my students this year had a harder time transitioning than my seniors last year, so I'll need to take re-evaluate how I'm going to transition my seniors this year. Where do you do college ministry at?
      • Well we are in central Georgia. Most of our kids aspire to go to uga or georgia tech, but with the latest trend has been to attend for two years at a smaller college. So we have a lot of kids at Macon state university which is much cheaper and our kids can stay home. We thought about doing the summer transition too, but our summers are so short and we have so much packed into them that we would never get a consistent shot at it. We are still a Sunday school church and we actually do really well at it, so we have our 12th grade teachers come and split time with our college teachers in the spring and summer. It has been very helpful to these kids.
        • There's nothing wrong with Sunday School. I'm actually a big supporter of it! We use our Sunday school as our boys and girls small group time for our college students. I prefer it that way over a midweek small group because that plugs our college students into our worship service. And like you guys, we use Sunday school to transition our seniors as well. We like to keep the same structure for both, so our seniors have familiar connection when they enter the college ministry.
  2. Love this. I am the college guy at my church as well and it definitely makes a difference. The point you made that I never thought of is the prolonged adolescence. This makes perfect sense and I can see it in my group. As your writing your next articles let me tell you something helpful we do. We transition our high school seniors the week after Easter their senior year into the college ministry. We allow them to double dip in the youth and college department. This gives them extra fringe benefits for their senior year, but more importantly... They will spend the first year of college transitioning in every aspect of life, so if they have already transitioned at church then it becomes a safe place for them. We actually have an entire curriculum package for our high school seniors called "transitions."
    • We've done that in the past but just during Summer, I like the idea of pushing it up earlier. I'm not the college guy at our church, but im trying to partner with them to get a small group of Seniors led by a few of the college people to help them transition all year.
    • Thanks for the love James. We've moved our seniors into our college ministry the moment they graduate. They're able to double dip as well. But I do like the idea of my seniors starting after Easter. I noticed my students this year had a harder time transitioning than my seniors last year, so I'll need to take re-evaluate how I'm going to transition my seniors this year. Where do you do college ministry at?
      • Well we are in central Georgia. Most of our kids aspire to go to uga or georgia tech, but with the latest trend has been to attend for two years at a smaller college. So we have a lot of kids at Macon state university which is much cheaper and our kids can stay home. We thought about doing the summer transition too, but our summers are so short and we have so much packed into them that we would never get a consistent shot at it. We are still a Sunday school church and we actually do really well at it, so we have our 12th grade teachers come and split time with our college teachers in the spring and summer. It has been very helpful to these kids.
        • There's nothing wrong with Sunday School. I'm actually a big supporter of it! We use our Sunday school as our boys and girls small group time for our college students. I prefer it that way over a midweek small group because that plugs our college students into our worship service. And like you guys, we use Sunday school to transition our seniors as well. We like to keep the same structure for both, so our seniors have familiar connection when they enter the college ministry.
  3. I just had this conversation with a college student in our congregation. He asked me how could he bring his friends who don't know God or have don't have a church background to our church if we are going to focus our messages, applications and even our jokes towards the older crowd. Our building sits right across the street from a college of 1400+ students and has for 40 yrs and I'm the first minister hired to minister to them. We're trying to be more intentional with intergenerational opportunities. We've worked with and done some training to prepare our students to serve in our kids min and a/v ministries on one month rotations and the other months they are a part of the worship gathering with the whole congregation. But we have work to be done as far as making our gathering on Sunday morning more college-age friendly. We do an ok job of connecting with college students during that time about 20 come and go depending on their schedules and what happened the night before and about the same number come and are a part of our mid-week gathering but are more regular. Bottom line is we all need to be more intentional in our efforts to reach and disciple college-age students and incorporate them into the larger church body.
  4. I just had this conversation with a college student in our congregation. He asked me how could he bring his friends who don't know God or have don't have a church background to our church if we are going to focus our messages, applications and even our jokes towards the older crowd. Our building sits right across the street from a college of 1400+ students and has for 40 yrs and I'm the first minister hired to minister to them. We're trying to be more intentional with intergenerational opportunities. We've worked with and done some training to prepare our students to serve in our kids min and a/v ministries on one month rotations and the other months they are a part of the worship gathering with the whole congregation. But we have work to be done as far as making our gathering on Sunday morning more college-age friendly. We do an ok job of connecting with college students during that time about 20 come and go depending on their schedules and what happened the night before and about the same number come and are a part of our mid-week gathering but are more regular. Bottom line is we all need to be more intentional in our efforts to reach and disciple college-age students and incorporate them into the larger church body.
  5. This is something that I have been struggling with the past 2 years. The church that I am currently at definately has this age gap. The "young adult" sunday school class is a group of 30-40 year old couples trying to figure out how they can have the best marriage and raise the kids. So you don't fit into the "young adults" class and you don't fit into the teens class. I do think that the twenty-somethings group is forgotten.
    • We have a young marrieds class and they're all in their mid 30's. So our actual young marrieds don't feel like they fit in that class either. Isn't funny how groups still keep their name, even when it doesn't reflect their class?
  6. This is something that I have been struggling with the past 2 years. The church that I am currently at definately has this age gap. The "young adult" sunday school class is a group of 30-40 year old couples trying to figure out how they can have the best marriage and raise the kids. So you don't fit into the "young adults" class and you don't fit into the teens class. I do think that the twenty-somethings group is forgotten.
    • We have a young marrieds class and they're all in their mid 30's. So our actual young marrieds don't feel like they fit in that class either. Isn't funny how groups still keep their name, even when it doesn't reflect their class?
  7. I would like to offer a different point of view based on my own experiences. So I was 18 years old, born and raised in the church and an active, leading member of our youth group. My parents were involved, my father was/is an elder. Naturally, I graduated high school and then it was "Now what?" I tried local public college, I tried Christian College and got involved in our college age ministry, at the time being led by a "College Minister". I found myself spiritually unsatisfied with my walk with Christ, so I decided to leave the church. Not in a secular sense, but to physically separate myself from the only way I knew how to be Christian, which was through my church. I branched out of my spiritual comfort zones and started to ask myself, do I believe in God? Yes. Why? Because I believe there is more to life and creation than we understand. Why? Because the idea of evolution makes me uncomfortable. Why? Because that's what I've always been taught. So who do I believe in God? Because my parents believe in God. What I found was I did not believe in God, but I believed in my parents who believed in God. That is to say, my faith was not my own, but the faith my parent's, preacher's, Sunday school teacher's, youth minister's, college minister's and Christian College professor's. No where in that 20+ something run did anyone push me to challenge my beliefs, to question years of teachings that I just blindly accepted to be true. It was all just taken for granted that I believed what they believed, and as long as that is the case, why question it. The result being, I found myself spiritually disconnected, lost and confused (again not lost in a secular sense). At some point I needed someone to push me out of the nest and allow me to either fly or fall. But I was kept in the nest , never really allowed to grow up spiritually (or physically) I went from having a Children's Minister to Youth Minister to College Minister to Christian College which constantly coddled me, limited my beliefs to their beliefs and (in the case of college) gave me a bedtime and threatened to kick me out if I didn't go to every chapel, church service and devotional that I possibly could. College for me was the breaking point and I was burned out on Church, I was burned out on other people's faith. So how to change? How do I make my faith MY faith? It didn't really start until a friend (Fellow christian) asked me if I believed Homosexuality was really a sin. Yes. Why? Because... Why? Because my parents told me it is. And then he challenged me to figure it out for myself. Talk to a mutual gay friend and get her point of view, reread the scriptures that denounces it and research and understand the times of when these verses were written. So I did an in doing so I discovered an entire new approach to studying the Bible. So I took the same approach to my faith. What is it that I think I know to be true, and what is the opposing view to that idea? In the end, I believe I ended up with my own authentic faith that I can claim as mine. Some of my findings line up with my parents and past ministers, some don't, but that doesn't make it wrong, right or disingenuous, just different. All this is to say, I don't think the problem with young people leaving the church is due to lack of ministers or ministering once they reach a certain age. In fact, I think there is too much of that going on in many churches as is. I think a youth minister is important because hormonal teens who are already confused and prone to defy their parents, can have that other example to look to when they face the issues of sexuality, doubt an confusion. But where I think I was failed as a youth (and many others as well) is when I had those doubts and questions, I was answered with the same old answers I'd been fed for years, no one ever pushed my to find the answers for my self. So I "lost" my faith...but I didn't really lose my faith, I lost my parent's faith. And as true with most things, you don't really care about losing something that isn't really yours. I think we can solve this issue of young people leaving the church by pushing these young people to discover their own personal faith derived from their own personal beliefs. Get them to struggle, make them uncomfortable, challenge them and let them come to their own conclusions, don't give them the answers. My math teachers used this teaching method all the time. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable, sometimes you will disagree, but as long as it's all based in scripture and done out of love, the outcome can be nothing but beneficial. Once that faith is found, it's harder to lose, so why not start that process when they are growing up and have all those questions? Why wait when they are adults and cynicism sets in, when it's easier to give up on something intangible? In the end I don't think the answer is more ministering and ministers, but a new approach of ministering. And on a personal note, I don't think we need ministers at every phase of life. Once you get past youth group (where you should be being trained to do this anyways) you have to become responsible for yourself. If you don't have a church singling you out to minister to you, don't get frustrated, don't be lazy, get up and find someone you can learn from and enter into a relationship with them. Just because our churches don't offer a class to our specific needs, doesn't mean there are not people in that church who won't help you. Do the work. And if you can't find someone, try asking what you can do to serve the church as opposed to saying the church isn't serving me. Nothing but good things can come out of that.
    • Caleb, I appreciate your response and I agree with you, to a point. The goal of any student ministry is to help students develop a foundation for their faith, so they can make it their own. College ministry should never look like youth ministry, and it should push young adults to critically think about their faith. From my own life experience and from interacting with college students on a regular basis, your willingness to wrestle with your faith and perform a complete examination of it, makes you the latter not the former. Most 18 year old's are just trying to keep their head above water, and they need people to come alongside them to help them learn how to swim with their new legs. Students should be willing to seek help, but many just don't know how to. So Churches need to provide opportunities for college students to move forward, and not wait for them to take the first step. In my opinion, this is the church being proactive, which it fails to do any many cases. Finally, I think every phase of life can use someone, who has gone before them, to guide them through uncharted territories. The problem is we have a developed a "no one helped me out and I came out all right" mentality, which causes people to let their brothers and sisters fend for themselves. This mentality does not reflect a community of believers who are rooted in Christ. Looking back at my college years, I wish I had someone to walk with me, and I still look to others who have gone before me to help me out. And because of my experience, I want to do everything within my power to help college students during their time of transition. Thank you for your thoughts and your willingness to challenge us to help students develop an authentic faith.
    • Caleb - As a youth minister, I know that many of my students have gone through what you explain here. I 100% agree that youth ministry ought to be a safe place to ask tough questions without getting the easy answers (those should be reserved for VBS). I regularly encourage our students to ask these tough questions, to write them down or talk about them with someone. Doubt is not the opposite of faith! Questions are how we own it. When students do ask questions, my first response is to ask them what they think and why. This often frustrates them at first because they want the easy answer they've been given their whole lives. But it can't stop there. We try to make our students feel safe but uncomfortable on a regular basis, be that with service projects, mission trips, or devotionals. In the end, I can do no more for someone else's faith than Jesus did - love them, accept them, disciple them, equip them, and then let them make their own decisions. So glad you had this experience of owning your own faith...I pray that more students do too!
  8. I would like to offer a different point of view based on my own experiences. So I was 18 years old, born and raised in the church and an active, leading member of our youth group. My parents were involved, my father was/is an elder. Naturally, I graduated high school and then it was "Now what?" I tried local public college, I tried Christian College and got involved in our college age ministry, at the time being led by a "College Minister". I found myself spiritually unsatisfied with my walk with Christ, so I decided to leave the church. Not in a secular sense, but to physically separate myself from the only way I knew how to be Christian, which was through my church. I branched out of my spiritual comfort zones and started to ask myself, do I believe in God? Yes. Why? Because I believe there is more to life and creation than we understand. Why? Because the idea of evolution makes me uncomfortable. Why? Because that's what I've always been taught. So who do I believe in God? Because my parents believe in God. What I found was I did not believe in God, but I believed in my parents who believed in God. That is to say, my faith was not my own, but the faith my parent's, preacher's, Sunday school teacher's, youth minister's, college minister's and Christian College professor's. No where in that 20+ something run did anyone push me to challenge my beliefs, to question years of teachings that I just blindly accepted to be true. It was all just taken for granted that I believed what they believed, and as long as that is the case, why question it. The result being, I found myself spiritually disconnected, lost and confused (again not lost in a secular sense). At some point I needed someone to push me out of the nest and allow me to either fly or fall. But I was kept in the nest , never really allowed to grow up spiritually (or physically) I went from having a Children's Minister to Youth Minister to College Minister to Christian College which constantly coddled me, limited my beliefs to their beliefs and (in the case of college) gave me a bedtime and threatened to kick me out if I didn't go to every chapel, church service and devotional that I possibly could. College for me was the breaking point and I was burned out on Church, I was burned out on other people's faith. So how to change? How do I make my faith MY faith? It didn't really start until a friend (Fellow christian) asked me if I believed Homosexuality was really a sin. Yes. Why? Because... Why? Because my parents told me it is. And then he challenged me to figure it out for myself. Talk to a mutual gay friend and get her point of view, reread the scriptures that denounces it and research and understand the times of when these verses were written. So I did an in doing so I discovered an entire new approach to studying the Bible. So I took the same approach to my faith. What is it that I think I know to be true, and what is the opposing view to that idea? In the end, I believe I ended up with my own authentic faith that I can claim as mine. Some of my findings line up with my parents and past ministers, some don't, but that doesn't make it wrong, right or disingenuous, just different. All this is to say, I don't think the problem with young people leaving the church is due to lack of ministers or ministering once they reach a certain age. In fact, I think there is too much of that going on in many churches as is. I think a youth minister is important because hormonal teens who are already confused and prone to defy their parents, can have that other example to look to when they face the issues of sexuality, doubt an confusion. But where I think I was failed as a youth (and many others as well) is when I had those doubts and questions, I was answered with the same old answers I'd been fed for years, no one ever pushed my to find the answers for my self. So I "lost" my faith...but I didn't really lose my faith, I lost my parent's faith. And as true with most things, you don't really care about losing something that isn't really yours. I think we can solve this issue of young people leaving the church by pushing these young people to discover their own personal faith derived from their own personal beliefs. Get them to struggle, make them uncomfortable, challenge them and let them come to their own conclusions, don't give them the answers. My math teachers used this teaching method all the time. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable, sometimes you will disagree, but as long as it's all based in scripture and done out of love, the outcome can be nothing but beneficial. Once that faith is found, it's harder to lose, so why not start that process when they are growing up and have all those questions? Why wait when they are adults and cynicism sets in, when it's easier to give up on something intangible? In the end I don't think the answer is more ministering and ministers, but a new approach of ministering. And on a personal note, I don't think we need ministers at every phase of life. Once you get past youth group (where you should be being trained to do this anyways) you have to become responsible for yourself. If you don't have a church singling you out to minister to you, don't get frustrated, don't be lazy, get up and find someone you can learn from and enter into a relationship with them. Just because our churches don't offer a class to our specific needs, doesn't mean there are not people in that church who won't help you. Do the work. And if you can't find someone, try asking what you can do to serve the church as opposed to saying the church isn't serving me. Nothing but good things can come out of that.
    • Caleb, I appreciate your response and I agree with you, to a point. The goal of any student ministry is to help students develop a foundation for their faith, so they can make it their own. College ministry should never look like youth ministry, and it should push young adults to critically think about their faith. From my own life experience and from interacting with college students on a regular basis, your willingness to wrestle with your faith and perform a complete examination of it, makes you the latter not the former. Most 18 year old's are just trying to keep their head above water, and they need people to come alongside them to help them learn how to swim with their new legs. Students should be willing to seek help, but many just don't know how to. So Churches need to provide opportunities for college students to move forward, and not wait for them to take the first step. In my opinion, this is the church being proactive, which it fails to do any many cases. Finally, I think every phase of life can use someone, who has gone before them, to guide them through uncharted territories. The problem is we have a developed a "no one helped me out and I came out all right" mentality, which causes people to let their brothers and sisters fend for themselves. This mentality does not reflect a community of believers who are rooted in Christ. Looking back at my college years, I wish I had someone to walk with me, and I still look to others who have gone before me to help me out. And because of my experience, I want to do everything within my power to help college students during their time of transition. Thank you for your thoughts and your willingness to challenge us to help students develop an authentic faith.
    • Caleb - As a youth minister, I know that many of my students have gone through what you explain here. I 100% agree that youth ministry ought to be a safe place to ask tough questions without getting the easy answers (those should be reserved for VBS). I regularly encourage our students to ask these tough questions, to write them down or talk about them with someone. Doubt is not the opposite of faith! Questions are how we own it. When students do ask questions, my first response is to ask them what they think and why. This often frustrates them at first because they want the easy answer they've been given their whole lives. But it can't stop there. We try to make our students feel safe but uncomfortable on a regular basis, be that with service projects, mission trips, or devotionals. In the end, I can do no more for someone else's faith than Jesus did - love them, accept them, disciple them, equip them, and then let them make their own decisions. So glad you had this experience of owning your own faith...I pray that more students do too!
  9. I find it alarming that there is a complete lack of "family" mentioned in your post, and how the family communicates and passes along faith FAR MORE than we as student ministers, or even churches. Could it be that the answer isn't another program for another specific age group that will lead to another extended adolescence and segregation in our churches? Could it be that the answer might have to do with integration into the entire church family so that when students graduate from high school they don't graduate from their faith, but rather simply from youth group. At our church, we have struck out with the amazing and daunting task of incorporating teenagers into small groups with their families. When students graduate from high school, they know exactly where they belong in the church: their small group. They don't go looking for a new minister or ministry to focus solely on their needs and wants because they are already in a community of believers. To continue to treat each group separately from one another and act like we are autonomous from one another is hurtful and, dare I say, unChristian. I don't mean to be harsh, but the solution to difficult problems isn't easy or simple. It isn't merely starting a new group or expanding youth group. This is a serious illness going on, unique to our culture, and we have to have deep rooted and intentional solutions. Can youth ministers do more with their students? Yes. Could youth ministers do more with college students? Yes. But to think that this will do anything but delay the problem is kidding ourselves. I love students and want them to know Christ more than anything else in this world...but I can't see the answer as me doing more. It has to be the church!
    • Hey Leland! Thanks for your thoughts. I totally agree that parents need to be involved in the development of their child's faith. And in all honesty, I didn't feel the need to mention family within this post because I'm already assuming youth ministers are already trying to do the best they can to work with parents, by helping them recognize they are the spiritual leaders of their household and are the number one influence in their child's life. I think its great your church is moving toward family groups. When I came to my church, they were still trying to incorporate family group or multi-generational group as well, but unfortunately, it didn't work out. However, from listening to how the people felt about it, they believed it was great to come together, but they also felt they needed their own space to fellowship with people their age and discuss issues that they believe were inappropriate to discuss in front of their children, which I get. So I think family groups are great, but I also believe there are seasons for it as well. And if you disagree that's okay, we can agree to disagree. I also agree the church needs to be willing to reach out to this age group, but my point was we need to be the ones willing to lead the charge and get the church active in reaching out. We need to be the ones continuing working with parents, and we need to be the ones to provide spiritual parents for students who have moved away from home, which I know parents are truly appreciative of. In the end, will students still leave the faith? Yes, I'm not that naive into believing this will fix everything, but I do believe this will lower the staggering amount of students who do leave. And if that can happen, then that's means for celebration, but it doesn't mean the work is over. I get the idea of doing more work, when you already have a ton to do, does not sound very appealing, but I plan to address that issue in another post, but the truth is, all the hard work is just getting it started. After that, it gets a lot easier.
      • I'm not so sure I think there is a season for family and a season for segregation, but like you said, "agree to disagree." I will say that my concern isn't that it's more work for me, but that the solution offered is to throw another program, event, or professional minister at the problem and expect that to solve it. Or even make a dent in it. Until we as church realize that we are all interconnected - all age groups, races, family stages, etc - and that our faith can't be segregated from one another, the further we will be to achieving real discipleship. Because if discipleship no longer has a specific age group, then it becomes a life-long journey.
  10. I find it alarming that there is a complete lack of "family" mentioned in your post, and how the family communicates and passes along faith FAR MORE than we as student ministers, or even churches. Could it be that the answer isn't another program for another specific age group that will lead to another extended adolescence and segregation in our churches? Could it be that the answer might have to do with integration into the entire church family so that when students graduate from high school they don't graduate from their faith, but rather simply from youth group. At our church, we have launched out with the amazing and daunting task of incorporating teenagers into small groups with their families. When students graduate from high school, they know exactly where they belong in the church: their small group. They don't go looking for a new minister or ministry to focus solely on their needs and wants because they are already in a community of believers. To continue to treat each group separately from one another and act like we are autonomous from one another is hurtful and, dare I say, unChristian. I don't mean to be harsh, but the solution to difficult problems isn't easy or simple. It isn't merely starting a new group or expanding youth group. This is a serious illness going on, unique to our culture, and we have to have deep rooted and intentional solutions. Can youth ministers do more with their students? Yes. Could youth ministers do more with college students? Yes. But to think that this will do anything but delay the problem is kidding ourselves. I love students and want them to know Christ more than anything else in this world...but I can't see the answer as me doing more. It has to be the church!
    • Hey Leland! Thanks for your thoughts. I totally agree that parents need to be involved in the development of their child's faith. And in all honesty, I didn't feel the need to mention family within this post because I'm already assuming youth ministers are already trying to do the best they can to work with parents, by helping them recognize they are the spiritual leaders of their household and are the number one influence in their child's life. I think its great your church is moving toward family groups. When I came to my church, they were still trying to incorporate family group or multi-generational group as well, but unfortunately, it didn't work out. However, from listening to how the people felt about it, they believed it was great to come together, but they also felt they needed their own space to fellowship with people their age and discuss issues that they believe were inappropriate to discuss in front of their children, which I get. So I think family groups are great, but I also believe there are seasons for it as well. And if you disagree that's okay, we can agree to disagree. I also agree the church needs to be willing to reach out to this age group, but my point was we need to be the ones willing to lead the charge and get the church active in reaching out. We need to be the ones continuing working with parents, and we need to be the ones to provide spiritual parents for students who have moved away from home, which I know parents are truly appreciative of. In the end, will students still leave the faith? Yes, I'm not that naive into believing this will fix everything, but I do believe this will lower the staggering amount of students who do leave. And if that can happen, then that's means for celebration, but it doesn't mean the work is over. I get the idea of doing more work, when you already have a ton to do, does not sound very appealing, but I plan to address that issue in another post, but the truth is, all the hard work is just getting it started. After that, it gets a lot easier.
      • I'm not so sure I think there is a season for family and a season for segregation, but like you said, "agree to disagree." I will say that my concern isn't that it's more work for me, but that the solution offered is to throw another program, event, or professional minister at the problem and expect that to solve it. Or even make a dent in it. Until we as church realize that we are all interconnected - all age groups, races, family stages, etc - and that our faith can't be segregated from one another, the further we will be to achieving real discipleship. Because if discipleship no longer has a specific age group, then it becomes a life-long journey.

Leave a Reply

Shop By Category