Can you survive without blood?
Making converts is one thing but keeping them is quite another
Originally published in a CMI newsletter, April 2011
If you knew in advance that more than half of the youth in your church were going to walk away from Christ after they leave home, wouldn’t you want to do something about it? There has been a lot said about what’s been described as the ‘exodus of youth from the church’. We are really talking about the future ‘life-blood’ of the church. The stark reality is that there won’t be much of a body of Christ left with so little blood left in it. Here are just a few of the reports.
- The Southern Baptists report 88% of children leave the church never to return.1
- George Barna research found that 6 out of 10 active youth stopped being involved in their adult years.2
- Gallup Poll finds church attendance drops to 32% during teen and adult years (a 68% loss).3
- Seminary survey finds up to 50% of youth struggle in their faith after university graduation.4
- USA Today reports 7 out of ten leave the church by age 23.5 And similar things are happening in Western churches in general.
Whose children are they?
Sadly, surveys like this abound. CMI speakers often alert congregations to such awful stats when they conduct presentations in churches. But more alarming is the apathetic response of parents and grandparents to these figures when shown. Even though many older parents approach us to unhappily confirm that their own children are part of those statistics, others see their own children happily attending Bible classes and enjoying youth activities, and simply think “That’s somebody else’s children. That won’t happen to mine.” Through the myriad of different surveys in different denominations, one thing is clear—this is really happening. So, whose families is it happening to? Might I speak frankly by saying: It’s not someone else’s church, or somebody else’s children. It’s potentially our own, and we often find out when it’s too late. I’m sure those ‘other’ parents didn’t think it would happen to their children either.
Even when new blood is being introduced to the church, a revolving door syndrome ensues. In 2005, one major denomination says it recorded over 5 million ‘salvation decisions’, but retained only just over 4%.6
Having fun in church is not enough
The Great Commission implores us to reach the lost and make disciples of all nations, but Jesus adds “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:16–20). A disciple is more than just a believer. He/she is a follower of Christ who is to be involved in spreading the message. This requires teaching and equipping so that application can follow. Although some argue the definition of missions, I’ve always believed that ‘missions’ starts at home. When engaged in evangelism abroad, one knows that part of one’s job will be to confront the dominant false religions and ideologies of a particular country. But we fail to recognize that in our own countries the most influential and dominant ideology at work is evolutionism and its concomitant ‘truth’ that ‘science has shown the Bible to be wrong.’ Most children are exposed to this on a daily basis, so to make disciples in our own churches we must counter the dominant worldview that we know they will be taught.
It’s not rocket science!
Another recent survey confirmed the root causes and what ministries like CMI have been saying for years. Several hundred children across 11 schools were surveyed—from Scripture classes, so one would expect them to be relatively informed about the faith. The four biggest questions they had were:
- How can I know that God exists?
- How could a good God send people to hell?
- How can I believe in a good God when there is so much suffering?
- Doesn’t evolution prove that God doesn’t exist?
1, 3 and 4 are questions that CMI specifically addresses. Other most popular questions were “Where does God come from?”; “Why did God make us?” and “If the Big Bang is true does that mean God is not?”7
A youth minister also wrote to us and said:
“I used to beat my head against a wall wondering why we lost all our young people at about age 16. I’ve realized that age 16 is when they teach evolution in depth in science. Some of the teachers actually identify the Christian students and make a special point of explaining the differences and difficulties in reconciling Genesis and the ‘facts’ of evolution. It’s no wonder we lost them. I come near tears just thinking about it.”8
The real tragedy is that these stats can be easily reversed. Don’t let your church’s children become a ‘lost’ statistic. We have more answers to help young ones (and older ones too) connect the Bible to the real world than at any time in church history. Please act now—in your own families. Talk to your church leaders, ask them to have a CMI presentation, and run a discipleship course in your church that includes basic teaching on Creation. We are here to help.
References and notes
- www.sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc02/newsroom/newspage.asp?ID=261.. Return to text.
- www.barna.org. Return to text.
- www.gallup.com/poll/6124/Religiosity-Cycle.aspx. Return to text.
- fulleryouthinstitute.org. Return to text.
- www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-08-06-church-dropouts_N.htm. Return to text.
- Crabtree issues discipleship challenge, http://ag.org/top/Events/General_Council_2007/News. Return to text.
- What Questions Are Adolescents Asking?, Mason, M; Singleton, A; Webber, R; (2007) The Spirit of Generation Y, Mulgrave: John Garratt pub. Return to text.
- Letter from Giselle S. Church censors biblical creation. Return to text.