Are Christian youth leaving your church after they graduate? One woman launched a ministry to keep them connected & foster millennial – mentor relationships.
A ministry to combat Christian youth leaving the Church
The statistics are staggering. Christian youth leaving the church after high school.
Dropout disciples. A massive youth exodus. Depending on whose research is cited, the percentage varies from almost 60 percent to well over 80 percent.
It’s a well-documented issue. But increasingly, leaders and researchers are stepping up to offer this hope:
The church body is not the problem;
it is the solution.
As the hands and feet of Christ,
the church is a powerful weapon
in this battle to retain and reclaim young weary soldiers.
One of my favorite articles on this was written by Ed Stetzer and published on ChristianityToday.com. He quotes Lifeway’s research and offers hope that many of the youth who “dropout” are actually on “hiatus” instead.
Their research reveals a large percentage of the Christian youth leaving eventually return to church as young adults. Furthermore, it offers predictive factors in determining which teenagers will stay in church.
Why they STAY in church (The “R” Factor)
I’ve seen variations of this type of indicator list. But one thing that seems to appear with regularity is some version of this concept:
“At least one adult from church
made a significant investment
in me personally and spiritually.”
The Barna group echoes the impact of relationships with adults and mentors in the church, exploring this one first in their list: 5 Reasons Millenials Stay Connected to Church.
(Notice another major factor is parents who remain married to each other and committed to the church. But this is not a parenting post, so we’ll leave that topic for another day.)
A friend wrote a beautiful, practical piece on what this “R factor” (Relationships) looks like as part of her series, How do I get my kids back in Church?
“They don’t want a program or a plan;
they want to connect with older adults
who will take an interest in their lives.”
~ Melanie Redd
She describes two different friends from church and the opposite interactions they have had with her millennial children. Her wise words resonated so deeply with me that I shared the post and tagged many of my “second type” friends she describes.
When I tagged those “second type” friends (the masters of the “R” factor) one who topped the list was Alesha Kendrick.
An interview with an “R” Factor Master
Not surprisingly, when her daughter went off to college, Alesha started a ministry within her church to reach out to ALL young adults from that congregation who were stepping into a new phase of life.
I believe ministries like the one Alesha championed can have an impact far beyond what is currently seen.
I interviewed her and she shared with me so I can share with you. This woman of God is known by all for her attention to detail and excellence in everything she does.
She even offered her letters, schedules, and tips. I compiled these all into one resource file for Cheerio friends. You can get that file delivered to your inbox by clicking below.
Adopt a Young Adult Ministry
The “Adopt a Young Adult” initiative organized and paired adults in the congregation with high school graduates. What follows is a basic outline of the ministry and Alesha’s step-by-step outline of how she launched the program and handled the correspondence.
An intentional program to connect adults in the church with young adults out of high school. This is accomplished through notes, birthday cards, care packages at scheduled times, and a commitment to prayer.
High school graduates who are away at college, attending college nearby, serving in a mission field, or serving in the armed forces.
Although Alesha’s inaugural effort did not launch until October the first year, the program now runs August-May.
A schedule (included in the swipe file) suggests cards/notes (and optional care packages) at critical academic times as well as birthdays and selected holidays.
How (Step-by-Step launch sequence):
Items with an asterisk indicate Alesha’s letter or form is included in the swipe file.
Step 1: Contacted leadership to get permission to move forward with the ministry.
Step 2: Obtained a list from the church secretary of students between the ages of 18-25 that were college students, missionaries, or in the military.
Step 3: Penned a letter to parents* of these young adults to inquire who might be interested in having their young adult sponsored.
Step 4: Penned a letter to the congregation* detailing the new ministry.
Step 5: Collected all the necessary information needed for “adoption” along with pictures of the young adults.
Step 6: Created a display board with each young adult’s picture, name, and where they were “stationed.”
Step 7: Created an adoption sign-up sheet* so the congregation could choose an “adoptee.” Along with the sign-up, they picked up an adoption packet* with all the pertinent information enclosed about their young adult.
Get the FREE resource and Start Somewhere
As with any new ministry, something like this must be tailored to meet the culture of the home church and navigate challenges unique to the participants.
However, I know from experience that just getting started is often half the effort.
I pray this post and future posts like it spark your imagination and plant practical seeds to help turn the tide of Christian youth leaving our churches. And I hope this extensive samples resource helps you take the first step if you’re inspired to contribute to those hopeful statistics.
If you want the swipe file, start by clicking the button below.