Our Youth Are Leaving

30 July 2014

A couple days ago I came across an article that someone shared on Facebook. This particular article talked about traits of youth who didn't leave the church after high school. It focused on three traits of those of us who stayed connected with a church. (Here is the article: http://www.faithit.com/3-common-traits-of-youth-who-dont-leave-the-church/#.U9cNAFwS0Zk.facebook) These were the traits they focused on:

1. They are converted
2. They have been equipped, not entertained
3. Their parents preached the gospel to them

After reading through the article I just had to share it because what it said resonated with me. Since I was on of those church kids who was there as much as I could (basically anytime the doors were open...), I could have easily fallen on either side of things based on home life and such. Yet here I am at 21 years of age serving in a year long internship position at my church here in Illinois where I moved to for school. I stayed connected with the church even though I was frustrated with it when I left for school. As I read through the article I couldn't help but think that these reasons that were stated were a big part of the reason why I am still connected and serving in and alongside a church. 

The first point is a big one. So often students proclaim that they are Christians and they attend all of the events and are at the church every Wednesday night and Sunday morning. Yet I have to ask...How many of those students are truly converted? How many of them have truly given their life to Him and are seeking daily to follow Him? How many are hearing what we say but in reality are not letting it change them? I'm going to take a guess that the number is higher than any of us want to admit. Yes, the events are fun and it is awesome to have a great attendance, but are they learning and growing while they participate is the question. We need to be teaching them and talking to them with the intent of conversion. We need to pray that God would do a mighty work in their lives and bring them wholly to Him. We can teach them and preach to them week after week and at event after event, but what good is it if they don't experience that true conversion. We should want them to be hungry to know more about Him and to want to serve Him, which is what happens when they give their lives to Him.

This second one really hits a note with me. So often the focus of youth group is merely to entertain the students for an hour or two and maybe throw in a short Bible study time. Nothing to fancy or in-depth, but enough to make it seem like we know what we are talking about and that they are getting something of substance. We get focused on the number in attendance instead of the learning and growth that should take place. Growing up in a church that had activities going on year round both locally and on the district, I am totally an advocate for having good times full of harmless fun and pure goofiness!! Yet I have seen and experienced first hand what happens when we take the focus off of equipping students and put on the fun. How can we expect students to go out and stay connected with a church or share the gospel when we don't equip them with the tools to do so? Once a student has converted and has accepted Him it is our job to help disciple them and teach them so that they can go out and do the same with others. Students should be leaving our ministries knowing how to study their Bible, how to read their Bible, and how to disciple others to become followers. If they don't know these simple things, what good are we doing?

This last one is where I could have went either way when I left home. My mom was a Christian but my father wasn't. So the messages were mixed at home. Yet my mom made us go to church and participate in the various ministries. Did I always enjoy it? No. Did I learn and grow from it? Absolutely. She shared about Jesus at home and faith focused conversation was commonplace. My mom worked in children's and youth ministry, my grandpa was our pastor, and all of my extended family worked or served in ministry to some degree. So as my mom has said, I had no choice. I grew up in it and have now found myself getting a ministry degree in college and serving in various ministries in my church. My mom made sure that the gospel was a part of our lives, whether at home, at church or elsewhere. This is such a key part of raising children who walk with Him faithfully. 

Sadly, so many youth are walking away from the church. This happens often once they have left high school and are on their own. I think that if we want to start keeping our students in the church as they become young adults we really need to make sure that these three things mentioned above are a key part of their lives. For some students the various aspects of this will look different because of life situations, but it can still happen. Students come out of youth group often times lacking the basic knowledge of how to share their faith and what it really means. This alone causes many problems. Throw in lack of support or lack of information coming from home, a church environment focused on attendance and lack of a true conversion...suddenly things are a mess. 

We can so easily fix this for our students. Am I saying it is easy? Not at all. Am I saying that it would be worth it? YES. For us and for them. These students need us to step in and show them what it means to be a true follower. We don't have to have it all together or have all the answers. We just need to be genuine with them. We need to teach them what the Bible says and show them ways to share their faith. As they are leaving home to go to college, especially out of town, we need to encourage them and maybe even help them to find a place to plug in. 

One other aspect, we need to teach parents how to share their faith in their homes. We can do all of this with students but if they are getting a different message at home it makes things so much more difficult. Helping parents to grow in their faith and learn how to disciple others, especially their children, can make a huge difference.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the points or disagree? How do you think we can best help our youth? Have you seen something done in ministries at your church that have helped this?

God Bless!

post signature


  1. a great post shelbi! I agree with your points there and its a hard one to overcome because you need the numbers there for the conversions....but its definitely not about the numbers, its about the 'ones'! each and every one of them. sometime bringing that to the forefront is the hardest part I'm sure! Your doing a great job when you are recognising such important things with a post like this :)

    1. Thank you! :) It can be hard to keep the focus on how and what we are teaching them and how they are growing as opposed to how many are attending youth group or events. In the world we live in it doesn't surprise me that we struggle with that. Yet I think we would see a huge difference if we took the time to really focus on the impact we are making and the conversions and life change of the youth instead of on how large our group is. I struggle with it as I work with children and youth ministries, but I hope that I am putting more focus on each student and their growth!


Design by | SweetElectric