- 20-30 year olds attend church at 1/2 the rate of their parents and ¼ the rate of their grandparents.
- 61% of churched high school students graduate and never go back! (Time Magazine, 2009)
- Even worse: 78% to 88% of those in youth programs today will leave church, most to never return. (Lifeway, 2010)
If parents were counting on youth programs, they dropped the ball. If the churches were depending upon youth programs, they have been left wanting. There is no replacement for strong family faith and values, reinforced by solid catechesis, and reflected in the regular and normative practice of Sunday worship. Part of the reason each succeeding generation seems less attached is that their parents were less attached than their parents, and so on. In addition, we went through a period in which we thought relationship building was more important that teaching the actual faith and our catechesis did not match up to our confession. The point that I am trying to make is that competing for the endless choices in the marketplace of pleasure will always leave us a distant fourth or fifth to the more exciting options for entertainment, excitement, and fun. Youth programs have got to stop trying to compete with the vast entertainment options already available to middle and high school age youth and need to start teaching and reinforcing the truth and values of the faith (not in the least of which is why weekly worship is so important for us).
Making church fun and having music you can dance to on Sunday morning is not going to capture or keep our kids. Segregating our kids from adults and telling them to trust their feelings is not going to help them believe or remain faithful. Parental teaching and example, dedicated catechesis, and good church going habits in the family are still our best hope to pass on the faith. The people who think this is about style have it all wrong. It was and it will always be about substance and about substantial commitment and example on the part of the adults in our kids' lives.
I just thought I would beat the drum on the familiar bandwagon again.... but if you are tired of it, you can move along to something else...