Did you know that after a student leaves the safe and fun youth culture of a caring church, even a great one, there is a 70%+ chance they will never come back to any church? Why is that? There are a multitude of reasons, but from our research and experience during over 30 years of doing Youth Ministry, we have found the number one reason to be that most churches and youth pastors spend very little time in mentoring and teaching their youth. Thus, few youth learn to take their faith seriously. (Of course, there are phenomenal exceptions. Our Director was a high school student when he helped start this ministry 30 years ago!) Many youth are not being taught to read and study the Bible or how to pray or understand Christian basics, and thus they tend not to develop a firm foundation of faith. So, when they are occupied in college life and in the world, they get clobbered and lose what little faith they have built up!
Research Conducted between 1998 and 2006:
· Churches where the youth are encouraged, listened to, and discipled tend to come back to that church or another church afterwards, even after college!
· Youth experiencing some kind of regular spiritual growth keep their faith past college; of youth who do not, over 85% of them do not come back to any church.
· Flashy youth programs tend to not work; youth in small groups where there is Bible teaching and caring leaders build strong youth who become strong Christians.
· Twenty (20%) to sixty percent (60%) of Evangelical Christian teenagers (ages 14-20) have experimented at least once with an occult activity such as the Ouija board or some type of witchcraft. Less than 20% of those teens have been taught in their church about cultism and its dangers.
· Forty (40%) to seventy percent (70%) of Evangelical Christian teenagers (ages 14-20) see their lives as spiritual or that faith is important in their lives, but not the faith of their parents.
Under Schaeffer's guidance one of our first studies in 1978 was seeking when people come to the Lord by Faith. This research was done by seeking denomination records, college ministry records and surveys from Campus Crusade, Navigators and then compared them to our samplings and surveys.
Archival Research 1978-1988:
· Eighty (80%) to eighty-five (85%) of people who become Christians do so by the age of 18. - 1978
· Eighty (80%) to eighty-five (85%) of people who become Christians do so by the age of 16. - 1988
We carefully continued to look at this:
· Eighty (80%) to eighty-five (85%) of people who become Christians do so by the age of 15. - 1998
· Eighty (80%) to eighty-five (85%) of people who become Christians do so by the age of 14. 2008
We have seen these statistics constant in our research and replicated by others also as a constant with those who had done similar studies. These findings, starting in the late 70's and continues with said examinations. This was also retested with by survey form in the late 80's with a former ministry partner "Institute of Youth Ministry" at Fuller Theological Seminary and Young Life and surveys dome at Youth Specialties conventions by surveying youth pastors. We, FSICLD and Young Life found that the 80% stat is correct. However, as you can see it was 80 to 85% of people come to faith in Christ by 18 now has slipped to earlier age ranges in the last 30 years to 80 to 85% to be now by 14 to 15. The significance of this is our cultural shift, making preteen and Junior High ministry to be now the paramount focus of effective evangelism. High School youth ministry is still mission critical to any healthy church, but is to be a more discipleship focused and also preparation for life, church and college and beyond. Churches need to make sure its children's programs are effective, reaching out to the neighborhood and present Christ in an effective, passionate, loving honest as well as relevant way that is never uncompromised or watered down.
Do not forget the most important call and need of Youth Ministry, to disciple your youth! This is what Christ told us to do!
More on this coming, we have thirty years of data we are compiling.
© 2008, Research from 1998- 2006, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/