The title to this blog post is no secret to student ministry. I have heard a statistic as high of 80% of students are leaving the church within 2 years after they graduate high school. I used to think that was an over exaggerated statistic, but as I look into our church, it is not that far off. It is actually pretty accurate. Okay, maybe a little. I would say 70% are leaving the church within 2 years after graduation. We see this statistic, and it begs the question, WHY? Why are they leaving? I wrote a post a while back on how to keep them in church after graduation, and you can read this here. This is not on how, but rather, why they are leaving. Here are 3 reasons why I see students leaving the church after high school graduation:
- Lack of Involvement to the local church– I look at our students who continue in church after graduation, and there is an involvement in the local church…well, most of the time. Okay, the majority of time. They were connected to the local church, and not just the student ministry. If we are not careful, we can grow a student ministry, and lose tons of those students, because they were only connected to the student ministry, and not the local church. Connect and use them in your church. Find areas for them to serve and be involved in the church, and not just the student ministry. Students crave ownership over their student ministry, and this is why they are so faithful. So, why not take that principle, and apply it to the local church.
- Parent Back Up– Parents are huge in the spiritual success of students! I look at my core student leaders, and the majority of them have solid parents who are backing them up and teaching Biblical principles in the home. This is why parent ministry is so big! I encourage our small group leaders to reach the parents, and not just the students! If you can get the parents in church, the odds are better for the students to get connected in the local church as well.
- Generalized Preaching– You might be thinking, what does this mean? I thought of this recently, and it made sense, and I hope that this makes sense to you. For years (at least in the circles that I have grown up in) have generalized our preaching. We use clichés from the pulpit, and phrases such as “Stand for God,” “Live for Jesus,” “Be bold,” “Be strong,” “Be courageous,” “Do right,” etc. These are all good, and nothing is wrong with these clichés, but for the younger generation, they are asking, How? How can we do this or what does this mean? For years, we have taught “Do this and Do that,” and have slowly made our Christianity generalized, and not authentic. If you want to keep your students, make the preaching Biblical, and practical. Give the Bible to them in a practical, “How to” type of way, and make the “do points” of your preaching right where the students are at. Do not generalize your preaching and your points for the message, because you are going to have a group of students asking, why and how? We live in a simple and practical society, and our preaching should be the same so that the students can grasp it and leave church applying the Bible instead of asking questions like, “how can I do that” as they leave the service.
I hope that this blog post has been a help to you. If you have any thoughts on the subject, you can always comment or email me. I hope to hear from you soon.