The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) is presently conducting an extensive survey to discover why so many high schoolers (60-75%) turn their backs on church and the Christian faith when they graduate high school. The survey will continue online until November 8 and the early results are rather interesting.
Thousands filled out the survey of three questions which had a linked advertisement on a good number of popular Christian websites. When asked if they were concerned about youth ministries, 55% said “yes” out of concerns that such ministries don’t help teens mature in the knowledge of the Bible and Christian conduct and that they are too shallow with too much focus on entertainment. When asked if the Bible was clear enough on its instructions on how to disciple youth in the church, 57% agreed the Bible provides all the steps any church would need to disciple young people and that it discourages adopting the world’s “innovations” to reach them. But when it comes to whether or not youth groups are considered Biblical, there seems to be an even split between those who don’t like the idea and those who support it.
One spokesperson for the NFCIC, Adam McManus, believes youth groups are a non-biblical construct that only serve to promote peer dependency when the Bible instructs them to depend on and interact regularly with older people in church who are wise and spiritually mature. That way, they will embrace adulthood sooner, as opposed to a majority of them caught up in what McManus says is “spiritual adolescence…prolonged well into adulthood.”
Cameron Cole, a youth director in Alabama, is of the opinion that the church has failed to make it clear to parents in church that they are primarily responsible for the spiritual maturity of their kids. She goes on to state, “Parents don’t believe this, but the reality is that kids listen to their parents far more than they’re going to listen to a youth minister.”
I’m not so sure youth groups can be blamed (at least blamed solely) for young people leaving church. Teens are at the age of accountability for their actions. Yes, they should be guided by their Christian parents and/or other Christian adults to set a good example of Christian living, but ultimately, a relationship with the Lord Jesus is a personal choice that has to be fostered by the individual young person humbly seeking the Lord as the Father draws them.
We Christians and the churches we attend have allowed many false doctrines to creep in and we have failed to fulfill even the most basic teachings taught in the New Testament on how we should conduct ourselves daily. I think once we repent and return to our first love, Jesus, and study to show ourselves approved unto God as workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and learn to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3) by learning the facts that back up our faith, all of the complex problems underlying the exit of young people from church will take care of themselves. If we refuse to become weary in well-doing, God will cause his church to reap in due season, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).
Source: Christian Teens Abandon Faith Because of Youth Groups, Not Despite Them. ChristianNewsWire.com. October 22, 2013.
Harry A. Gaylord