Home > Brian's Blogs, Parenting > Parenting Teenagers 12: Church Dropouts

Parenting Teenagers 12: Church Dropouts

In my last post (Parenting Teenagers 11) I provided a statistical download, namely, that 70% of those between the ages of 18-22 drop out of church for at least one year. This begs the question: what can I do as a parent and/or as a church leader to help reduce the likelihood of my teen dropping out of church?

Here is Life Way’s important conclusion:

“Despite appearances, teens do want guidance when it comes to the decisions they face in everyday life, and parents and churches who meet those needs make it more likely those teens will stay in church as young adults…Teens are looking for more from a youth ministry than a holding tank with pizza. They look for a church that teaches them how to live life. As they enter young adulthood, church involvement that has made a difference in their lives gives them a powerful reason to keep attending.”

Implications For Churches

Life Way’s research points to the importance of the corporate worship gathering in the life of a teen, since many teens only attend this function of the church. Specifically, it is important that preaching is relevant to young adults. When teens view the preaching as relevant in their lives, they are much more likely to stay connected to the church. Implication: We need biblically faithful and relevant preaching that transforms not just informs.

In addition to the corporate worship gathering, connection with adults is also extremely important. “Teens who had at least one adult from church make a significant time investment in their lives also were more likely to keep attending church. More of those who stayed in church…said five or more adults at church invested time with them personally and spiritually.” Implication: we must surround our teens and college students with mature adults who will invest in student’s lives…the more adults there are, the better off our teens and young adults are.

Implications for Parents

Life Way draws a conclusion that I have been talking about for awhile in this parenting series: “Teens who, at age 17, have parents who are authentic examples of Christian faith – proactive and consistent in living out their faith – also are more likely to keep attending as young adults. Across the board, 20 percent more of those who stayed indicated they had parents or family members who discussed spiritual things, gave them spiritual guidance and prayed together.”

The researchers are quick to point out that parents must be authentic in their Christian faith because students are experts and finding inconsistencies between a parent’s words and a parent’s actions. Therefore, any negative patterns, thoughts or behaviors from the parents has a negative impact on their children. Implication: parents are a major spiritual influence in their teen’s spiritual life, and primarily through example. Parents must model biblical wisdom and faithfulness if they want biblically wise and faithful children.

Final Conclusion

I like how they conclude their research: “Whether teens are bombarded with positive or negative influences about church, they all make their own decisions about whether to continue or stop attending. This study shows the benefit of parents and church members faithfully doing their part, but in the final analysis, we must leave it in the hands of God to work in their lives.”

In other words, as I’ve said before: work at parenting as if you are in control, pray knowing that God is in control.

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  1. March 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

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