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Where are the 20-somethings?

Question mark iconI’ve never done this before, but a short little blog post by CPYU’s College Transition Initiative just sparked so many thoughts that I had to copy it here for future reference.

Youth Exodus from Church: What Are We Doing Wrong?
Matt Friedeman, professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary, responds to a new report revealing that 88% of children from evangelical homes are leaving the church shortly after they graduate from high school. Friedeman offers three reasons for why this is the case:

First, we give students what they want, instead of what they need.

Second, when Jesus made disciples of young men… he challenged them to “follow me.” Discipleship in Jesus’ day meant spending time with an adult… There was no cool websites, lock-ins, hip-hop bands or youth organizations pulling out the stops to come up with neat, new (actually, frequently gross) games to capture attention before a quick three-point Bible study and pizza.

Third, I wonder if we don’t significantly cheat our kids when we suggest that vital discipleship can exist without a life of evangelism and compassionate service.

You can read the entire article here.

The author welcomes responses here.

There are a lot of tough changes that need to take place in youth ministry, not only strategically, but philosophically.

Last Sunday night Dana wanted to go hear an old college bible study pastor from where she went to school in Abilene, TX. This guy, Matt Chandler, is now the pastor at a local church called The Village Church so we took the time to go hear him speak. As soon as we walked into the sanctuary I was shocked to see that there were almost no “adults” present. The entire demographic was several hundred college-aged and 20-somethings students! I thought, “Wow, what’s going on here? I’ve never seen a church service comprised almost completely of people my age and younger.” It looked like married couples were in the minority. The service wasn’t anything unusually special either — about 30 minutes of worship, a couple announcements, and a 45 minute sermon. No offering, no drama, no entertaining video clips, none of that stuff. And to top off my surprise, there was no strong Sr. High ministry feeding into this group either. In fact, they announced they were starting something that Wednesday night for the high schoolers. So where did all these college kids come from and what attracted them to this church ministry? I don’t really have an answer for that (haven’t really investigated it either) but perhaps some of Matt Friedeman’s insights point us in the right direction for thought and discussion.


Posted on August 25, 2006

  • To be honest, I felt uncomfortable being there with all the people my age. At the same time of being in awe of that many people in their 20s all coming together crammed into the church building, I was longing to see someone my parents age. I find comfort in a church with all generations. But then, it was very exciting to see that many young people who looked like they were from all different backgrounds in one place worshipping Christ.

    I’m not real sure why I was uncomfortable. I guess ’cause I hadn’t been around that many people my age since my sophomore year in college? I did enjoy hearing Matt Chandler speak again.

  • Nicole

    i’ve heard of The Village. Terri actually went there a couple of weeks ago to visit. I also have quite a few friends who go there. They all enjoy it and love going back. No it’s not for the drama or fun stuff, it’s for the Word and what they can get out of it. Most of the college kids are from around the metroplex and go to the colleges nearby. The Baptist Student Ministry group at UNT that i’m involved with has many people that go there because they get fed spiritually, more so than at their home churches where the focus is on both the younger and older generations, but they get left out. The way that it grows is that one person tells a few about how much they enjoyed the sermon and/or how much they got out of it spiritually and so their friends go and it spreads from there; kinda like a dominoes or ripple effect. It’s actually really amazing. I plan on visiting sometime soon, especially if my work schedule becomes crazy. I believe that many of the people there are comfortable with it because although they don’t necessarily know each other, they know that they are all there for the same reason: to worship God and learn and grow and be fed. It’s God-sustaining ministry rather than self-sustaining.

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