Is The Church Letting Down Its Youth?

When I say The Church, I really mean us, the individuals who are called to raise, equip, and empower the next generation of Christ followers. It’s our duty to raise up new leaders, equip them with the right tools, and empower them to lead where they are called.

Every year we see more and more young people leaving The Church. Statistics say that nearly 50% are to turn away from their Christian roots after high school. And while it hurts my heart to see so many of them walk away from their faith, I can’t help but understand why. We haven’t given them a reason to stay.

Don’t get my wrong. There are thousands of individuals who are leading their young people incredibly well, but I feel there is also an unspoken group of individuals who aren’t. Something needs to change. We must increase expectations for a decreasing generation. Pizza parties alone aren’t gonna cut it anymore.

1. They Find It Hard To Fit In.

The twentieth century’s structure of “The Church” is not something that appeals to many of their cause-based, non-profit, grassroots, be your own boss, entrepreneurial lifestyles. The idea of combining Jesus and business is something I feel turns many young people away from the crux of it’s purpose. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I am saying it’s a huge factor in why many are stepping away from what others would call corporate gatherings. They feel as if they don’t fit in. We can’t treat young people the same way we treat everyone else. There needs to be a diverse form of community and discipleship that compliments their unique stages of life.

2. They Find It Tough To Connect

Many claim that The Church is giving answers to questions young people aren’t even asking. Millennials are looking for connection, but it seems many of them are finding it tough to get plugged in with a group or community that relates to their current stage of life. This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about reaching this age group. I feel that there is a missing link between high school and what others would call “big church.” And while many might disagree with this statement, I would reference the lack of young adults in our churches to prove my point. We need to do something about this.

3. They Yearn For Organic Community Vs. Organized Community

You can’t force me to hang out with anyone, let alone put me into a group of people who I have nothing in common with, and then expect us to connect. My wife and I have experienced this personally. While I firmly believe that community groups are one of the most important pieces to any church, I can also see why many young people don’t find them interesting. They can’t relate. We must create a specific communal structure that is laser focused on engaging the life’s of our young people.

4. They Lack Discipleship.

I believe there are many churches in today’s world that are doing an incredible job at reaching the next-generation of faith, but I also see a need for equipping other churches on how to better reach and disciple them. The lack of discipleship in student ministry is pretty staggering. Many students are moving out into the real world without the biblical foundation they need. Creating a unique discipleship program that is specifically crafted around the lifestyle of a young people will be a key to raising up the next leaders of The Church.

Here are some next-gen ministries doing incredible things:

1) MisfitNYC 2) Generate 3) Generations 4) Sub30 5) TheVous 6) LPStudents

-Jarrid Wilson

***
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Published by Jarrid Wilson

Husband, Father, Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship & Author of a few books.

17 comments on “Is The Church Letting Down Its Youth?”

  1. You hit a spot in my heart. My daughter serves in the ministry in worship. She sings rather beautiful. She attempted to serve in a second ministry where she was also singing and the minister there had words with her about her fiancée and the need to get married right away. My daughter and her fiancee are trying to save money for her dream wedding, he has no parents and I am the only parent in her life. Hence, it will take a little time. In any event, she became the target of other complaints of the minister while she tackled a few challenges with her dad. Her social media was a direct sounding board towards her anger at her dad. The minister admonished this behavior. Well needless to say, she no longer wants to serve in this ministry. She serves in another but it astonishes me how pastors/ministers do not engage in a more intentional compassion with young adults ESPECIALLY since we are in the end times. Never was there a heart to heart about what’s really going on with her. No encouraging and uplifting words. As a matter of fact, she was compared to another girl who just started to sing in the team and told her to learn from her. The minister told me that she was being completely rebellious. Her fiancée wants nothing to do with this ministry. I have my share of damage control. . Sad huh?

  2. Why don’t we just call it what it is; a numbers game. People keep leaving the Church, and it means Christianity isn’t relevant like it used to be. The whole notion that Christians need to “guide” and “nurture” young people is just a self-congratulatory way of saying that YOU need Christianity to not become irrelevant before your eyes. But how can it be irrelevant? It’s the chosen religion of the God of the Universe. So if you or other like-minded people fail to attract impressionable young people (that IS what they are after all; you can’t bring to Jesus someone who isn’t impressionable and young people, next to little children, are the likeliest to convert, given your “guidance”), then what does it say about God? That he can’t reach them on His own? Through his own means? Through personal revelation? At a later stage in their life? So what if you don’t attract them to Christianity? God can certainly reach them on his own. I understand that you feel it’s your duty to bring the Youth of today into the fold, but you’re doing it on behalf of a God of LIMITLESS ABILITY. So, what it boils down to is that if you did take this task upon yourself, your own faith dictates God would find any number of alternate means to reach these kids, and that if you worked 24/7 til your dying day, but God wasn’t orchestrating it, you wouldn’t achieve any progress whatsoever. So why not simply trust God? Let impressionable, young people, who are easily influenced, generally insecure, awkward and uncertain at that age, and who haven’t developed the skills or life experience to objectively know who they are and what they want in life, and couple this fact with your complete faith in God’s ability to reach EACH and EVERY soul, and just let them live their lives. Stop using them to replenish your ranks and fulfill this ridiculous quest of populating the world with “fresh” Christians just so you can feel more confident and self assured about your beliefs. Just let them be. Trust God and let them be. (Oh and by the way, you forgot the most important one, #5: They see how intolerant Christians and the Bible are to homosexuals and the transgender community. They’re learning on their own that such people are loving, caring, perfectly normal people who just want to live their lives and find love like anyone else is. They’re seeing that the most important thing in the world right now is equality and acceptance, and as a result, your religion seems unkind and divisive. Since gays AREN’T actually posing any kind of threat to society (just Christianity), they’re going elsewhere to find fulfillment. I’m surprised you forgot that one. Have a good day.

  3. I agree with you on some of this stuff. I think you are onto something, I’m in the main teen age reach and to me the main issue is that the church is changing it’s appearance but in many cases keeping a stale and judgemental heart and we can see straight through the act. We need to get rid of the Christian celebrity and swap it with love. Knowing lots about the bible is great but it will never get you into heaven unless you read out Jesus. Theologically minded people are okay but SO dull and boring. (See Amos 5)

  4. I agree with you on some of this stuff. I think you are onto something, I’m in the main teen age reach and to me the main issue is that the church is changing it’s appearance but in many cases keeping a stale and judgemental heart and we can see straight through the act. We need to get rid of the Christian celebrity and swap it with love. Knowing lots about the bible is great but it will never get you into heaven unless you read out Jesus. Theologically minded people are okay but SO dull and boring. (See Amos 5)

  5. Being involved in one church for almost 20 years, starting as a jr higher and now being part of pastoral staff, watching many of my friends who worshipped, cried, prayed, grew up with me walk away from God, I’m convinced what’s turned them away most often is not having any tangible experiences with God away from church at home with their families. They’ve never seen the reality of abundant life break through in their day to day family life besides parents sometimes pushing for a morality different from the world (although even this is rare.) Everything ends up feeling like just words and everyone starts looking like a hypocrite. When what happens in their everyday life should make God undeniable, instead makes him seem dispensable. They find it easy to walk away because their experience tells them that life isn’t any different with God than without, except maybe worse. Sundays and Wednesdays won’t save younger people. They must see the necessity of the cross when they are away from preaching and programs, especially at home.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.