I recently read Karen’s Stiller’s article “Why they are Leaving” in the current issue of Faith Today, the magazine of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) – a few copies are in the foyer of the church.
It’s an article on an important study entitled “Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church” commissioned by the EFC Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable, chaired by my former boss John Wilkinson of Youth Unlimited (Toronto YFC).
Although it surprises many parents & youth alike, the greatest influence on young people continues to be their family of origin; their parent or parents specifically. In her article, Stiller gives the highlights of the 100-page research study. She says that the 4 major reasons why youth find their church worthwhile and stay or return are:
- Spiritually engaged parents
- Experiences of God
- Vibrant community
- Empowering teaching and beliefs
Saying it another way, these are the 4 major reasons that drive young people away from their church:
- spiritually disengaged parents
- lack of experiences of God
- stagnant community
- Restrictive teaching and beliefs
It’s often thought that the great concern of the church for its young people is the transition between high school and college/university/the work force.
The research is now confirming what many youth leaders have known for years, that the greatest decline in young people’s connection to church is between junior high and high school… the period where most parents tend to stop “making” them attend church services and/or youth group.
At Kingsview we’re working hard to engage youth and parents alike.
We want to support both youth and parents. We want to do a better job of supporting parents.
There are lots of opportunities for young people: through Donuts & Discussion, Youth Group events, Math & Spelling Club, the Bike Shop, and Studio 15. We’re striving to create a vibrant faith community where young people feel they can belong, and where families are supported, so they get to know Jesus, follow him and become joyful disciples.