Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Churches of Christ and Their Children

"Are we losing our young people?" That's the headline of the July issue of the Churches of Christ newspaper, The Christian Chronicle. The article quotes one of the best Church-of-Christ statisticians and observers, Flavil Yeakley. In the article, he passes along these facts:

1. In the U.S., about 45% of high school seniors leave the Churches of Christ after they leave home.

2. About 33% of all people who grew up in this group leave and never come back; about 12% drop out for a time and return later in life.

According to the campus ministers interviewed, many people who grew up among the Churches of Christ come to college unconverted, having been over-sheltered and under-challenged as young believers.

If you grew up attending a Church of Christ, does this seem like an accurate assessment?

Do the numbers quoted by Yeakley match up with what you have observed?

In what ways are Christian families and churches really building up their young people?

What are the areas where immediate families and church families should be doing so much better?


Matt said...

Those are pretty bad numbers but not as bad as previously calculated. I had heard somewhere on the order of 75%.

Areas to do better:
- More Family Life ministry and preventative ministry rather than trying to clean up problems after it is too late.

- More youth and church-wide service projects. Teens and adults who are active in service/ministry are not too often found to fall away. Don't babysit them at the building. Send them out.

Neva said...

I think the stat are probably pretty accurate but I wonder how they compare with adults we are losing. It seems to me we are losing them also.
Until we stop "doing church" and start "being church" I think we will continue to lose people. Most of us are drawn to authentic, real, genuine people with authentic, real and sincere faith. Secondhand faith makes for wishy washy christians, IMO.

john alan turner said...

Andy Wall's doctoral studies work at Fuller looked at reasons why people leave the Churches of Christ. If you look carefully at his data, you'll find that Churches of Christ actually have a "second exodus" when parents die and/or when children's programming becomes a significant issue. So, the question of whether or not Churches of Christ are losing their children has to be answered by taking into account the fact that their may be a different exit point beyond high school graduation.

Matt, I think that would actually bring the number up closer to the 75% you heard about.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Thanks for the feedback, y'all.


I have been witness to the second exodus "when parents die."

I would like to read Andy Wall's work. Until I do, would you say a little more about "when children's progamming becomes a significant issue." I don't understand what happens there and why.


I know I'm a little slow here. But I needed to add my two cents. That's about what it's worth.

I think the numbers are about right. Many who leave start attending somewhere else (ie Community Church) and don't just drop out. But many do just quit.

Over the years you can almost guess the ones that will stay strong and the one that will quit. Many of those who just quit are the ones that were never really involved. Never plugged in. I've seen very few "youth group leaders" leave upon graduation, but I've seen many "outer fringe" kids leave.

I know we always ask "what can the church do" and I'm okay with that. I love Matt's suggestions too. But too many times the answer is in the home and with the parents. That's where it starts.

That's just my thoughts...


john alan turner said...

Sorry I'm just now getting back around to this. I was out of town for a couple of weeks.

When I talk about children's programming becoming an issue for parents, I'm talking about the fact that many larger community churches are simply able (and willing) to provide bigger, better, safer and more creative programming for children (and their parents). Few children actually want to go to a small church that still thinks puppets and flannel boards are innovative.

Even fewer teenagers find a small band of 10 or 12 other teens fun or inspiring. It's difficult to have a good song service (especially if you don't use any instruments) with a dozen teens.

Larger churches have the budget and creative collateral to build attractive children's and student's ministries. If a parent has to struggle to get their child to attend church in their home congregation but finds that this same child is motivated and wants to attend a different church...that parent is more willing to change affiliations for the sake of their children.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Okay. Thanks, John, for putting that together for me.

A friend of mine is a children's minister in a Church of Christ here in Amarillo; he's really good at what he does. So I had not realized that, in some places, there would be such a difference between the children's programming in versus out of our group. Makes sense though.