Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)
What I’m about to write I’ve said to my high school Bible classes for the past several years. So, I’ve said it to the teens themselves. And, they have agreed to the sentiment. Here it is: We are raising a generation of quitters. Now, I understand this is a generalization, and not all teens are quitters, but hear me out. When things get tough, they quit rather than fight for what is needed. This is very true when it comes to our churches.
Research has shown over and over than our churches are leaching teens and young adults at an alarming rate upon their graduation from high school. (The estimates are between 60-70 percent) There are a host of reasons given for their departure: judgmental atmosphere, poor teaching, legalism, and so on. Ultimately, however, they have decided that the church is not significant to their lives. So, when their parents are no longer forcing them to go to church, they quit. Indeed, there are many churches with no one under 50 in attendance.
Here’s the thing, these are our kids, raised in Christian homes, some going to Christian schools. Somewhere along the way, we, the adults, have allowed them to perceive the church as insignificant. May God have mercy on us! In other words, we’ve allowed them to quit.
Rather than feeling included in the functions of the church, our young adults slip into the background. Instead of taking leadership rolls up front or in small groups, they exit quietly out the back door. Instead of serving on the church board, or even serving as deacons, they choose to let someone else do the work of the church.
So, what do we do about it? How can those of us with a little more mileage on our souls help teens sense that being part of a church family is important? Challenge them.
I’m not talking about challenging them to sit up straight, pay attention, and act the part (Unless you’re their parent). I’m talking about mentoring them. Those in leadership roles in the church, invite them to work alongside you. Let them see what working for the church looks like. Let them get experience leading. Coach them. Befriend them. Challenge them not to give up on their church, but be an active part of the church. Show them a reason not to quit.