6 things The Church is Doing Right to Cause Students to Stay

in Grow on February 13, 2013

The Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave The Church” has been gaining some steam. I’m not going to lie, I completely agree with the writer. The church has been doing some pretty dumb stuff that has caused a generation to walk away. Yet, I’ll be honest, blog posts like these don’t phase me anymore. I’m going to be a prophet here and declare you’ll read another blog post like this within the next six months, and people will go crazy for it. Why am I so confident in this declaration? Because everyone has their opinion on why kids leave the church, the future of the church, or the future of any ministry of the church that needs to be worked on so students will stay. And guess what? For the most part they all say the exact same thing. Do you know what post I never see? What the Church is doing right to cause kids to stay. You would think someone would write stuff like this, but I guess it’s not as sexy. Truth be told, everyone is good at trashing the Church, Christians included. Sometimes I wonder if we believe Paul was joking with us when he wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29). Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t write about issues the Church faces, but when we do, we need to counter it with at least 10 posts that speak about what the Church is doing right. Only talking or writing about what the church does wrong only hurts the gospel, not spreads it. We need to remember people who don’t believe in Christ read this stuff too, and we only affirm their belief about how terrible Christianity is when we write about how the Church fails all the time. So, here are 6 things the Church is doing right to cause students to stay:

  1. Networking: Never before have we lived in a time where we can connect with each other, and guess what, we are. We’ve learned the importance of networking with other ministers to promote spiritual care, learn about each other’s ministries, and have joint events for students to connect with each other. When we network, students see the Church the way it’s supposed to be working: the body of believers coming together to proclaim Christ!
  2. Communicating: Because of technology we have the ability to communicate the gospel in ways people would have never imagined 20 years ago. We have an overabundance of books, blogs, websites, and podcast, that allow students to to hear about Jesus Christ and learn how to follow him. We are leveraging all the facets of communication to make sure no one has an excuse not to grow in their faith, and that’s a good thing. Furthermore, churches are developing curriculums and offering them for free on their websites so that any church who can’t afford their own can have quality materials to disciple students. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some stuff out there that isn’t worth the time of day, but the quality of content that has truly been refined has produced some great fruit!
  3. Community: We have truly understood how important community is in an individualistic society. The church is doing everything it can to cultivate a culture where everyone believes they are loved and accepted for who they are. Yes, we know many of our students do not have a choice on where they worship, but I know that every youth pastor is doing everything they can to develop a ministry where, if students had choice, they would choose to stay where they’re at.
  4. Serving: Gone are the days of just throwing money at an issue and believing we did our part. This generation has been told they can make a difference, and they believe it. We understand that, and the church is more active about serving in different ways so others can see Christ. We have become mission-minded and we want to make sure we have met the physical and spiritual needs of an individual.
  5. Relevance: Now I know the blog post mentioned relevance as a bad thing. And I agree with him, to a point. No 30 year old, 40 year old, or any year old should ever wear skinny jeans period. Yet, I will commend the fact they are willing to do what it takes to reach students. And I dare ask, what have you done lately to do the same? We are aware of the fact there is no “one size fits all” way to share the gospel and develop disciples. We are active about developing new and better ways to stay on top of the current culture so the church isn’t 50 years behind like it has been in the past. Staying relevant and not sacrificing the gospel is what we’re supposed to be doing.
  6. Declaring God’s word: I will admit, there are churches out there that declare a watered-down gospel that does a true disservice to Jesus Christ. We know this because many of them are on TV; however, those churches are far and few in-between. I truly believe there are far more churches out there that declare the gospel in all its entirety than those who don’t. We know this generation needs something solid to build its foundation on, and I believe we are doing this with a sense of urgency and boldness like never before!
  In the end, I know the Church isn’t perfect. I know it has its faults because the Church is the people, and people are fallen. However, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides a wholeness that we need to live out in our faith, and I believe people are doing this everyday! So I encourage all of you to leave a comment sharing what your church is doing well in your community, and how the gospel is making in impact!
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Joshua Fuentes at 11:40 am

And I’ll start it off! In two weeks I am joining with 8 other churches, and hopefully more, in my city to do a joint Disciple Now weekend. We’re trying to bring the body of Christ together and show our students they’re not on their own island. They have brothers and sisters all around them at their schools, and they need to know they’re not alone in their walk with Christ!

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Jonathan Pearson at 6:54 am

This is an awesome idea. I wanted to do things like this at my former church, but the only time they wanted to partner with other churches was when “hanging out” was involved. Sadly, declaring God’s Word, I was told, should be saved for Wednesdays and Sunday School. They had no interest in declaring it any other time.. I look forward to hearing how your DNow weekend goes.

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Joshua Fuentes at 12:22 pm

Thanks man! I’ll make sure to share about it in two weeks!

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Joshua Fuentes at 12:40 pm

And I’ll start it off! In two weeks I am joining with 8 other churches, and hopefully more, in my city to do a joint Disciple Now weekend. We’re trying to bring the body of Christ together and show our students they’re not on their own island. They have brothers and sisters all around them at their schools, and they need to know they’re not alone in their walk with Christ!

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Jonathan Pearson at 7:54 am

This is an awesome idea. I wanted to do things like this at my former church, but the only time they wanted to partner with other churches was when “hanging out” was involved. Sadly, declaring God’s Word, I was told, should be saved for Wednesdays and Sunday School. They had no interest in declaring it any other time.. I look forward to hearing how your DNow weekend goes.

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Joshua Fuentes at 1:22 pm

Thanks man! I’ll make sure to share about it in two weeks!

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Tom Shriver at 12:47 pm

Glad you hit on the relevance issue. It’s definitely necessary – I think a lot of churches are trying to be “overly-relevant”.

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Joshua Fuentes at 1:06 pm

There is a fine line that carefully needs to be walked when it comes to relevance. I’m starting to learn we work in extremes. We’re either over the top that it causes the gospel to be lost, or we’re so against it we cause people to be against the gospel. We have to learn how to balance it correctly. Is there anything your church is doing well or something you think should be added to the list?

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Tom Shriver at 1:47 pm

Glad you hit on the relevance issue. It’s definitely necessary – I think a lot of churches are trying to be “overly-relevant”.

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Joshua Fuentes at 2:06 pm

There is a fine line that carefully needs to be walked when it comes to relevance. I’m starting to learn we work in extremes. We’re either over the top that it causes the gospel to be lost, or we’re so against it we cause people to be against the gospel. We have to learn how to balance it correctly. Is there anything your church is doing well or something you think should be added to the list?

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Keith Parker at 1:01 pm

Great post, Josh. I think the church is, overall, doing its very best to disciple and equip students for the long haul. Sometimes, it seems easy to write the “why the church stinks” stuff and miss all the good that is coming from the Body. Thanks for the perspective.

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Joshua Fuentes at 1:26 pm

Thanks Keith. You’re just making me blush all over social media today lol.

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Keith Parker at 2:01 pm

Great post, Josh. I think the church is, overall, doing its very best to disciple and equip students for the long haul. Sometimes, it seems easy to write the “why the church stinks” stuff and miss all the good that is coming from the Body. Thanks for the perspective.

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Joshua Fuentes at 2:26 pm

Thanks Keith. You’re just making me blush all over social media today lol.

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Derek at 1:17 pm

Parts of the article seemed defensive, but given what it was written in response to, it’s understandable.
To community, I would also add that integrating youth into the larger church community via involvement in worship beyond simply butts in pews/chairs and visibility in other ministry areas can be an intentional effort. It is on my part, and I know many seek the same.
I’ll use this past Sunday at my church as an example:
At the 8:45 traditional service, which has typically low attendance, the youth handbell group was playing, and where two of the girls were supposed to sing the anthem, they talked the entire handbell group into singing as well.
Meanwhile, at the 9:00 contemporary service, we had two youth singing in the
praise band and the Children’s Time and Children’s Table were led by youth as well.
And then at 11:00, the youth were the ushering team for that service.
I guess you could call it forced involvement, since this was all scheduled, but that would take away from the fact that all who served did so voluntarily and happily. Visibility is a big thing for youth thing for youth ministry, and we should constantly be on the lookout for ways to integrate with the larger faith community.

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Joshua Fuentes at 1:26 pm

That’s great Derek! I’m glad to hear your students are involving themselves in the greater community! And you are so right that we need to be on the lookout for ways to integrate our students in the larger faith community. That is huge!

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Derek at 2:17 pm

Parts of the article seemed defensive, but given what it was written in response to, it’s understandable.
To community, I would also add that integrating youth into the larger church community via involvement in worship beyond simply butts in pews/chairs and visibility in other ministry areas can be an intentional effort. It is on my part, and I know many seek the same.
I’ll use this past Sunday at my church as an example:
At the 8:45 traditional service, which has typically low attendance, the youth handbell group was playing, and where two of the girls were supposed to sing the anthem, they talked the entire handbell group into singing as well.
Meanwhile, at the 9:00 contemporary service, we had two youth singing in the
praise band and the Children’s Time and Children’s Table were led by youth as well.
And then at 11:00, the youth were the ushering team for that service.
I guess you could call it forced involvement, since this was all scheduled, but that would take away from the fact that all who served did so voluntarily and happily. Visibility is a big thing for youth thing for youth ministry, and we should constantly be on the lookout for ways to integrate with the larger faith community.

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Joshua Fuentes at 2:26 pm

That’s great Derek! I’m glad to hear your students are involving themselves in the greater community! And you are so right that we need to be on the lookout for ways to integrate our students in the larger faith community. That is huge!

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HeatherLeaCampbell at 1:28 pm

Way to edify the body of Christ, instead of punching her between the eyes. 🙂

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Joshua Fuentes at 1:37 pm

Good way to put it lol

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HeatherLeaCampbell at 2:28 pm

Way to edify the body of Christ, instead of punching her between the eyes. 🙂

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Joshua Fuentes at 2:37 pm

Good way to put it lol

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Allen Posey at 3:00 pm

As I was reading this article, I kept thinking of the Casting Crowns song Jesus Friend of Sinners and the line that says that people only know what were against. I think as the “church” we tend to focus on our flaws such as why are people leaving, or why aren’t we growing. This is a great article, especially the Serving point. In my opinion more than ever our teens find it cool to help others, with companies such as Toms and Project 7 where you buy a product and some in need gets something I think Serving has become relevant in a way.

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Joshua Fuentes at 5:05 pm

I agree with you Allen. Sometime I believe we over focus on our flaws to the point it turns people off. We shouldn’t be afraid to share the victories Christ has, and continues to do, in our lives!

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Allen Posey at 4:00 pm

As I was reading this article, I kept thinking of the Casting Crowns song Jesus Friend of Sinners and the line that says that people only know what were against. I think as the “church” we tend to focus on our flaws such as why are people leaving, or why aren’t we growing. This is a great article, especially the Serving point. In my opinion more than ever our teens find it cool to help others, with companies such as Toms and Project 7 where you buy a product and some in need gets something I think Serving has become relevant in a way.

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Joshua Fuentes at 6:05 pm

I agree with you Allen. Sometime I believe we over focus on our flaws to the point it turns people off. We shouldn’t be afraid to share the victories Christ has, and continues to do, in our lives!

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Katy Johnston at 3:19 pm

This is great response.

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Joshua Fuentes at 5:03 pm

Thanks Katy! Is there anything you would add to the list or would like to share what you believe your church is doing right?

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Katy Johnston at 4:19 pm

This is great response.

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Joshua Fuentes at 6:03 pm

Thanks Katy! Is there anything you would add to the list or would like to share what you believe your church is doing right?

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Broseph at 3:38 pm

the writer of the 10 things lost me when he started dissing plaid and you lost me when you started dissing skinny jeans.

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Broseph at 4:38 pm

the writer of the 10 things lost me when he started dissing plaid and you lost me when you started dissing skinny jeans.

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Justin Knowles at 1:58 pm

This is great. I love it. Such a good list. Relevance is huge to me and I’m glad we are noticing this more. It shows we are going to them and being intentional. Which I think INTENTIONALITY would be a good one to put on this list as well.

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Joshua Fuentes at 4:10 pm

Agreed. I’m learning more and more if you want to have a good “fill in the blank” you have to be intentional about it. Good marriages, parenting, or ministry doesn’t happen on its own. We have to be intentional about being sensitive to the Spirit, praying, and being a good stewards of what God has given us for great ministry to take place! Love it!

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Justin Knowles at 2:58 pm

This is great. I love it. Such a good list. Relevance is huge to me and I’m glad we are noticing this more. It shows we are going to them and being intentional. Which I think INTENTIONALITY would be a good one to put on this list as well.

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Joshua Fuentes at 5:10 pm

Agreed. I’m learning more and more if you want to have a good “fill in the blank” you have to be intentional about it. Good marriages, parenting, or ministry doesn’t happen on its own. We have to be intentional about being sensitive to the Spirit, praying, and being a good stewards of what God has given us for great ministry to take place! Love it!

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Shawn MacKay at 4:02 pm

I love how you show honor to the Church with this post. And positive reinforcement always works better than negative! Great stuff, great content.

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Joshua Fuentes at 2:47 pm

Thank you for the encouraging words Shawn. It scares me how much we trash the church at times. We really ought to be better about how we speak of the church and what that reflects towards others.

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Shawn MacKay at 5:02 pm

I love how you show honor to the Church with this post. And positive reinforcement always works better than negative! Great stuff, great content.

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Joshua Fuentes at 3:47 pm

Thank you for the encouraging words Shawn. It scares me how much we trash the church at times. We really ought to be better about how we speak of the church and what that reflects towards others.

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John Mark Harris at 12:21 pm

I think “authenticity” and “relevant practical application” are better…

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John Mark Harris at 12:21 pm

I think “authenticity” and “relevant practical application” are better…

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