Yesterday afternoon I stepped into my executive pastor's office to say hi. Now, you need to understand that Steve is unlike any executive pastor I've ever met, heck, Steve is unlike any person I've met. He's passionate, aggressive, gentle (most the time), a servant and values out of the box thinking. All of this wrapped up with a shaved head and a huge heart.
As we were pontificating about ministry (good word, hugh) he asked a question that has me thinking. "Does anyone know how to do ministry to juniors and seniors"? Of course in my mind I'm thinking, well yes, I'm standing right here.
In reality our ministry has gone through major transition over the last 3 years. This transition has really hurt our ability to serve upper classmen. We're rebuilding.
Most student ministries struggle to influence students after they get their drivers license. We've heard a lot of statistics about young adults leaving the church, I believe they're leaving the church much earlier than college, they leave church when they're still in high school.
So why don't they hang around? Why do we typically have great attrition when students get older. Here's some thoughts.
They have greater freedom...
When they get car keys they all of a sudden have more options of how to spend their time. Also parents may stop making their kids come to church as they get older. In reality, when kids have keys they can vote about how they value the student ministry. Many of them vote "no".
They have greater responsibility...
You know the drill, jobs, sports, band, drama, college prep. All these opportunities get loyalty from upper classmen, and they should. The question is, why doesn't the church receive the same loyalty from students?
They have greater interests...
As students begin to see the world differently their interests sometimes mature. The church typically doesn't give context for them to develop and serve in a way that impacts the world around them. Students at some point think the church is irrelevant and they go elsewhere to have impact.
Some seem to have the view that if the church can get students through the high school years without getting pregnant smoking pot or getting drunk, the church has done a good job. If parents don't have to twist the arm of their kids to come to church that's a huge plus.
Shouldn't high school ministry be more than that? In the next couple of days I want to share some thoughts on how to keep high school students in the game.
BUT before, what are other reasons we loose high school students as they get older?