I recently read a report that as many as 70% of our youth who have grown up in the faith will walk away from that faith after high school.
I ask this question because I run a Christian youth center. Every night we end the day with a devotional. I always try to add some apologetic's to the message so they can defend their faith but am wondering what else I should do to help keep them in the faith.
Why are they leaving?
What is the church doing wrong if anything?
Is this just part of the great falling away?
I'll post the website for those who are interested.
Blessings and thanks for your feedback and answers.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. 1 Cor 13:11
When we are Born Again things change. We have The Spirit leading us. However, young Christians at times take the long way. Yet, God's Love; His Reach; His Ability, is always able to bring us back. Jesus tells us of leaving the 99 for the 1. I have been that 1 before. Let us never forget.
14 “I am The Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as The Father knows Me, and I know The Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father Loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father. John 10:14-18
Do I reget at times the time I wasted? Part of me will say yes. Then I do not know if I would have learned what I have I did during those times. I gained the ability to say, "I have been there and done that." In the hope to say, "let me share my mistakes so you could learn from them; stand on my shoulders and simply gain the wisdom I have been given." Wisdom shared and received is greater than, wisdom learned by actions. Why, make the same mistakes? You will be that much further. Having raised children, some chose to receive, others chose to learn by actions. What we must do is exercise our faith in The Word.
27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish —ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is Greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of The Father’s Hand. 30 The Father and I are One. John 10:27-30
4 But when the Kindness of God our Savior and His Love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His Mercy, through the washing of Regeneration and Renewal by The Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out This Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that having been Justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life Titus 3:4-7
Others will see how we operate; how we live a surrendered life unto The Lord. A life Led by The Spirit. They will see His Love working through us, His Power, The Fruit of The Spirit. They will see fruit in our life. To the ones who have been Born Again, their spirit will hunger after the benefits of "The Fruit of The Spirit." It is all of our Renewed nature.
10 Now God has revealed these things to us by The Spirit, for The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except The Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world , but The Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by The Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For who has known the Lord’s Mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the Mind of Christ 1 Cor 2:10-16
Working with young adults is difficult, Gary my Brother you will be in our Prayers. As I am sure you know, they may be difficult but, at times very rewarding. I want to Thank you for your work in that area. "Don't you say, There are still four more months, then comes the harvest? Listen to what I'm telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. John 4:35 I am sure at times it is very difficult, yet your heart is clearly seen by the words you shared, at the start of the discussion.
May The Lord continue to Bless and keep you Brother
At the risk of being overly simplistic, I want to suggest three factors that often are overlooked in this discussion.
They Never Joined the Church Spiritually
Many young adults leave the church because they were never truly converted to Christ in the first place. John the Apostle warned us, “They went out from us because they were never of us; for if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us.”
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus soberly warns, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my father in heaven.”
In fact, this is a troubling but recurring theme throughout the New Testament. Jesus frequently warned of pseudo-converts, most memorably in His parables of the four soils, the wheat and the tares and the sheep and the goats. This grievous occurrence is why Paul exhorted the Corinthian church to “examine yourselves to determine whether you be in the faith.”
This predicament is as old as the church itself, and it is no respecter of age. Young adults have not cornered the market on unregenerate church membership, but with so many other pressures and opportunities associated with their life stage, their exit ramp is more predictable and more pronounced.
In other words, young adults are just one bloated demographic slice of an ever-present challenge within the church today: unregenerate church membership.
They Never Experienced the Church Corporately
To their own detriment, too many churches function like a confederation of parachurch ministries meeting under the same roof. For instance, many young adults traveled from children’s church to children’s ministry to the youth group and then to college ministry.
Amazingly, many young adults spend 20-plus years in a local church with the congregation as a whole always being an ancillary group and with their predominant religious attention focused from one of the church’s subgroups to the next.
Age-graded and targeted ministries can be healthy inasmuch as they undergird the life of the church and facilitate strategic discipleship and family ministry. But when they displace the central and formative place of congregational worship and corporate gatherings as a whole, they prove detrimental to both the individual and the local church.
In fact, the beauty of the New Testament church is its homogeneous diversity: Jew and Gentile, young and old, rich and poor, all united by the Gospel and gathered around the common ministry of the Word, the Lord’s table, prayer and fellowship, together as the body of Christ.
There is a sweetness in God’s people, and we rob our children of experiences of God’s grace when we neglect to incorporate them into the corporate body. It is for this reason I want my children to know the saintly widow seated behind them and the contemporary adult couple seated in front of them as well as they know the children in their own classes.
When they are disconnected from the congregation, it should not surprise us that young adults, who have never known the church as a whole, are disinclined to embrace it when their age-graded group has run its course.
Do you want your children to participate in the church when they become adults? Then cultivate their participation as they travel life toward adulthood.
They Never Came to Love the Church Personally
Though the church is not perfect, it ought to be cherished, warts and all, by every member of the congregation, including our children. As parents, we cultivate this by esteeming the church — and the individuals who comprise it — before our children. As a parent, my wife and I have long since covenanted together to guard our tongues, especially before our children, about the ministers and members of the churches we have joined.
Granted, no church is perfect, and if you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it, or you’ll likely ruin it. At the same time, a spirit of criticism and sarcasm about the pastor and other members of the congregation mark the homes of too many church members.
In so doing, children are hearing reason after reason why they should doubt the Word of God, not value fellowship of the saints, and be indifferent toward gathering with God’s people. When this occurs, why should young adults commit their lives, time and resources to a pastor and group of people they have overheard their parents repeatedly denigrate?
Why do young adults leave the church? This is a pressing concern but an often misplaced question. Instead of focusing so much on why young adults leave the church, let’s focus more on how they enter the church and how they engage it along the way.
And when you show me young adults who are truly converted, have ministered and worshiped with the church as a whole and have grown to love the people of God, I’ll show you young adults who are a lot less likely to depart the church anytime soon.