Do Churches Care About Their Youth?

One thing is clear: research reveals that many church leaders seem genuinely concerned about the number of youth who choose to no longer attend or affiliate with a faith community.  The problem is scary real.
What’s even scarier, however, is the evidence that these same church leaders may actually be more concerned about the problem than they are about the youth themselves.  A recent study of over 10,000 churches discovered that members at most of these churches did not empathize with the youth and were not able or willing to walk in their shoes.
Do you wonder if the members at your church care about the youth? Ask a sampling of youth several simple questions:
  • How many adults who are not family or family friends call you by your first name?
  • Will anyone notice if you stop attending your church?
  • Do you have a relationship with an adult from the church?
Please share your findings with me at Generation Spark. We can help your church show youth they matter.
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“We want to be heard.”

America’s youth are sending a message: “We want to be heard.”

I wonder…when will disaffected youth stage walk-outs at their churches?

This question came to mind as I observed unprecedented numbers of youth nationwide leading protests against gun violence that killed 17 people at a Florida high school on February 14.  Triggered by a senseless act of violence, the students’ actions were directed at authority figures—the big people they have been told they can trust—who seem to care more about gun rights than child safety.  These words, spotted in a sea of protest signs, gripped my heart: “Why must we be the adults?”

The students tell us “enough is enough,” a mantra heard following every school shooting since the massacre at Columbine. With more than 150,000 children (Washington Post) experiencing a shooting at their schools since 1999, a reasonable person would conclude that change is imminent.  But legislators have clearly not had enough and are unlikely even now to change gun laws or protect the children.

Abby Kiesa (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) observes that these teenagers insist on being heard. They “want the country to be better so they are going to stand up to make it better.”

At Generation Spark, a ministry designed to help churches engage and retain more youth, we hear these same words from youth.  “The church doesn’t listen to us,” they complain. “We don’t even feel we belong.”

I wonder…when will disaffected youth stage walks-outs at their churches?  Oh, wait, they are already doing that, with 70% of them leaving churches every year.