Orginally published on Tuesday, August 08, 2006 at 8:50 AM
by Todd Rhoades
As a parent of four kids the stat in this article really grabbed my attention. What do I have to do as a parent to make sure my kids make the cut. And what is/can my church do to keep 88% of our current youth from abandoning the church?
(AgapePress) - The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) says he is disturbed that many students in both public and private schools—even Christian private schools—are leaving the church once they graduate.
In 2002, the SBC’s Council on Family Life reported that roughly 88 percent of evangelical children are leaving the church shortly after they graduate from high school. Dr. Frank Page, the denomination’s new president, says SBC churches need to counter that statistic by finding ways to make themselves more relatable, more pertinent and significant to students before they graduate.
“We’re seeing a societal trend where a large number of young people are opting out of the church,” Page notes. ”Estimates of 15 to 20 million people now in America have said they are Christians but they simply don’t want to be a part of the church,” he says.
Some blame the church “drop-out rate” among young people after they graduate on the secularist influence of America’s public schools. However, the SBC’s president observes, ”The sad thing is that we’re seeing that number of dropouts from church [among] those who went to public school and private school, and that’s an unfortunate trend.”
Although he admits he has no “hard numbers” to back up his contention that graduates from private Christian schools are leaving the church almost as rapidly as others, Page says he is referencing anecdotal information heard from this year’s Resolutions Committee at the recent SBC meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. “It is a disturbing trend,” he asserts, “and part of it is that our churches have become one- or two-generation churches, and we’ve failed to learn how to reach out to this younger generation.”
The Southern Baptist leader says churches must find ways to connect with this young adult demographic—Generation X, the bridger generation, or “whatever you want to call it”—and must do a better job of discipling members of this group. A big part of the problem, he contends, “is that our churches simply are not relating to or seeming relevant to these students.”
Even though Christian students are under attack for their beliefs in many public schools today, Page believes those who are firmly grounded in their faith can have a “salt and light” influence on their peers and teachers. Nevertheless, the SBC president says his prayer is that more churches will begin offering Christian schools, both for families who can and for those who cannot afford such education.
So… how do parents and churches partner together to make sure we don’t lose nearly 90% of our next generation of church goers?
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