Many young people will soon be graduating from high school or college. The church can give them a nice certificate to recognize this accomplishment or some other keepsake gift. We can wish them well in their adult lives. But, can we keep them in the church? After graduation, then what?
Actual figures of how many drop out of church vary. One of the lower figures I’ve seen is from a 2006 Barna study. Here is a quote from that report:
In fact, the most potent data regarding disengagement is that a majority of twentysomethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying). Only one-fifth of twentysomethings (20%) have maintained a level of spiritual activity consistent with their high school experiences. Another one-fifth of teens (19%) were never significantly reached by a Christian community of faith during their teens and have remained disconnected from the Christian faith.
After Graduation, Then What Do We Do to Keep Young People in the Church?
I think the question we must ask first is why they aren’t staying.
- Is it a matter of intellectual disengagement? Have we not done a good job apologetically with them?
- Is it a heart issue? Do they want to be in control of their own lives more than they want God? Are we praying for them as we should?
- Or is it something else?
Once we figure out why young people are leaving the Church after graduation, then perhaps we’ll be in a better place to know how to stem the tide of their exodus.