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Help! Youth is leaving the church! Youth does not know! Who cares?

Auteur: Jetteke N.
Date: 08.10.2010
Category: Enfance et jeunesse, Peuples non-atteints, Ministère sur le lieu du travail

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L'original est en anglais

Unseen, unheard, they just disappear. That is what is true for thousands of youth a month in Europe and beyond. And then there’s the millions who have no church connection at all. Do the churches care? Do we care at Cape Town 2010?

In 2006 the Youthworkers Education (Jongerenwerkersopleiding) presented a survey done among thirteen denomintions in the Netherlands. The results were shocking. As they will be in many other countries in Europe and beyond. 

Conclusions and challenges of the survey

In the Netherlands alone every month about 400 youth between 12 and 18 years of age leave the church. Most of them leave silently, as if walking on their socks. They do not write a letter to the church board to express their discomfort and disappointment and their leave has no financial consequences for the church (at least not at the moment itself). 

Churches should become aware of the number of youths they are losing and make an effort to prohibit the emptying out of the church. Many churches have no idea how many youth are members of their congregation, how mant attend the services and how many participate in other activities. Churches should do a survey in their own congregations. How many youth are members and how many are actively involved in activities and services? How many leave and more specifically: why do they leave? Not just a survey of numbers, but the stories behind the numbers.

Churches reach no more than 10% of the Dutch youth. About 6% of the youth attend church services and about 7% participates in activities (some do both). Though the survey focussed mostly on youth leaving the church, the number of youth not reached by the church at all is much higher. About 2.3 to 2.5 million youth between 12 and 25 years of age in the Netherlands alone. The biggest area of work for the Church therefore is outside its own walls. Many churches do know this and on a small scale try to reach out. Yet, the challenge is enormous. Churches should work together to reach these youth.

Leaving the church starts with children. The survey was done among youth of 12 years old and up. Half of them are not participating in the church anymore. What happens when they are not yet 12? Between baptism and leaving elementary school? We should explore this. There are only a few churches investing in specialists to work with youth. It becomes harder and harder to have youth attach themselves to the church. Causes are: increasing secularism, less interest of parents and changing times in which churches have a hard time showing the relevance of faith to their youth. This situation calls for a bigger investment. Well educated youthworkers can play an important role. Churches could learn from one another, as some are more capable of keeping their youth than others, using one another’s strengths tot reach youth. 

It seems like most churches only come into action when the youth has basically all left. As long as there are youth in the church pews, they think it is o.k. And when youth has left, there’s a strong feeling of powerlessness. We therefore strongly urge the churches to invest in children and youth while there still seems to be time. It’s not easy, yet at the same time not impossible to interest youth for the Christian faith and the church. Especially youth not involved in a church, they are literally out of view. 

Mots-clés: challenge, church, leaving, united nations, unreached, youth

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PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas glandrum (1)
États-Unis

I posted earlier about young men that I mentor. These young men were raised in the church and there they have stayed. They stayed because they have people who constantly reinforce that they are children of God and validating who they are in the church. 


08.12.2013
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Sydney123 (1)
États-Unis

It is true, youth are leaving the churches! My guess is because they are ignored by adults, they watch adults who do not practice what they teach, and adults make them feel like they are not wanted. That is probably a good guess because adult believers do that to each other as well. This article reminds us that youth are important to God’s mission and we as believers need to remember that all believers as well as youth have a calling, a purpose, and the youth will be the future of the church. The pastor has the responsibility along with the entire congregation of making sure that children and teens do not get lost in the shuffle as the adults keep "running things,"yet forgetting to embrace the youth. The church’s budget, ministry activities, worship services, including mission and mentoring programs must reflect that children and youth have a place in the church in order to participate in God’s mission.


01.04.2013
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Pete_Houston (7)
Afrique du Sud

Thanks.  It’s an urgent wake up call.  And it is true of my church too.  We need a serious re-think - see A Hope and a Future for Young People...and the Church!


09.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Jetteke_N (0)  
Pays-Bas
@ Pete_Houston:

Hi David,


Yes, we need to disciple the youth that comes to Christ and teach them how to reach out and do it! They will be able to get in contact with other youth around them and share the Gospel. 


This paper though, is not about that issue, but about the churches not being aware of what is happening to (their) youth. With churches of course meaning the people and not the building - for that is stones. And we do need older people, in maturity and age-wise, as the church is a body of all ages. A few years ago the youth churches in the Netherlands were very hot. Hundreds and thousands of youth gathering to worship, taking their friends. They are almost all gone now, they could not make it. Not without adults stepping in and helping out - leadership, organization, finances, teamwork, training, etc. We need one another. We also need a new focus on youth and the complex issues they are facing. We need a new focus on how the a church should work, according to the Bible. We need a change of heart!


And there is more to say - of course... :-)


10.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Jetteke_N (0)  
Pays-Bas
@ Jetteke_N:

Sorry Pete, the comment was for David. I made a mistake. Jetteke


10.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas BrimstoneAGS (4)
États-Unis
@ Jetteke_N:

The youth of the world are revolting right now. Even here in the USA kids have taken to the streets and stand up for what they believe. This generation is primed to hear a gospel that offers solutions. The Good News is radical but as a young person all I hear being preached is rules and the same ideals that sent me away from the church for so long. many cmments on here fail to see that they simply are repackaging a form of the faith that has failed the world. The Modernist Church brought us many horrible thoings because the focus was on rules and strict xenophobic biblical interpretation that in my own culture lead to many white churches preaching the godliness of lynching persons opf color. The churchis not dying out it is being reborn it is just those clinging to organizational structures that are out dated do not have ears to hear or eyes to see.


22.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Billy_Houze (0)
États-Unis
@ BrimstoneAGS: BrimstoneAGS thank you for such a wonderful response. May are absent of the fact that a tender branch un-nurtured is a detriment to the nurturer.the value of the young has great potential to exceed it’s forerunner be double if guided correctly.in order for this to happen, there must be innovacations that will challenge where children are. If the church is to assist in this effort they must go the extra mile to make it happen, now and not later.
24.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas jdb11583 (2)
États-Unis
@ BrimstoneAGS:

I understand where you are coming from. I am curious to hear how you see this unfolding. What do you think the church is going to look like when the younger generation takes hold of the reins? 


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas BrimstoneAGS (4)
États-Unis
@ Billy_Houze:

I agree that the young need to be nutured so that they may grow strong. But it is us that must go to them, they have and are rejecting the model of church that we have given them therfore we must find a new way to to be with them to enter into thier lives. The Bride of Christ is not going to die but she is wild and for a long time has been tamed by the ways of the world. I promise you brother revival is coming and the fields are ripe for the harvesting we need only workers who will bend their structures in order to reep a crop such as has not been seen in generations


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas BrimstoneAGS (4)
États-Unis
@ jdb11583:

The time of organizational churches in the west is passing. The new dawn is a church without walls believers of my generation will still gather and grow and learn but the need to belong to a local congration is being replaced with need to beloing to a community. It may look like two friends having lunch or a party at the house down the street. It is my hope that Sunday worship will not disappear but iti is also my hope that everyday worship will reappear. I do not know what the future will looklike for sure but I do know that when the instittution meets change with dread and fear that instituttion will surely die.


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas jdb11583 (2)
États-Unis
@ BrimstoneAGS:

Its sounds like it will be like the Church we find in the New Testament. A gathering of brothers and sisters of Christ in homes and in the community, but not necessarily in a building designated as a "church." Am I following you correctly?


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas pastort (4)
États-Unis

The last statistics I heard concerning youth leaving the church was in 2010  at youth camp.  We were told that seventy-eight percent of students that go off to college never return to the church.  This does not include the youth that don’t go to college, who leave the church or those who don’t attend church at all.  As the article stated there are many reasons why this is occurring however, regardless of the reasons we have got to figure out what the church is doing wrong.  In my opinion, if the church does not change it’s tactics and demonstrate to the youth of today the importance of God and a surrendered life, we may be asking the question in years to come, "Where is the church?"  The young parents of today have something planned for their children at least 3 days a week. On the weekends there are travel ball teams, dance competitions etc.  By Sundays the parents are so tired from working all week, and going all week taking their children to activities, that on Sunday they choose to stay home and therefore their children must stay home because they have no way to church.  The twenty and thirty something parents are who we should be targeting to try and turn the ship back to the shore before it sinks.  Meaning the breakdown of the family, which will truly effect the church.


19.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Billy_Houze (0)
États-Unis
@ pastort: Pastort thank you for your awareness of the issue. The article speaks to the number they we see who physically leav our churches but we have a greater issue of the ones that leave the church mentally, psychologically, and socially before adults ever notice. For the few that return some 10-15 years later return with deep psychological,amotional and some times physical wounds. We do need to get busy reaching for the salvation of our youth is the saving of our youth.
26.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas jdb11583 (2)
États-Unis
@ pastort:

I often feel like the Church is treated as one entity and the youth are treated as another. It like they are a part of the Church congregation, yet separate. Therefore, they never really feel like they are a part to of the church to begin with. This is based on my experience with the last two churches I have worked with. Do you feel this way about your church? And if so, is there a way we can solve this problem?


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas jdb11583 (2)
États-Unis

There are definitely youth leaving the church.  Here in the states, they leave the church and return when they are married and have kids who they want to know Jesus. Therefore, the reason they are leaving is not because they do not believe anymore, which is definitely a good thing!  A major reason why they are leaving during the adolescent years is because the church is not answering the question “why?” Adolescences do not want the “because the church says so” or “because scripture says so” answer anymore. Things are no longer black and white for them. They want to begin thinking about the theology, historical support, and reasoning behind what the church believes and what scripture tells us. They desire a deeper understanding.  The church does not necessarily discuss this. I believe this occurs mainly because some of the questions are tough and we are afraid to say “I don’t know. “ I also think the lack of interest from the parents and older generation is to blame for this as well. If those who are supposed to have the answers are not interested, then the questions go unanswered and the adolescent becomes disinterested as well or they turn to others outside of the church for answers. We need to be ready and willing to answers their questions, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable we feel about the questions. 


19.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas BrimstoneAGS (4)
États-Unis

The youth are leaving but do not count them all as lost. Many pastors I talk to today are worried the Church in the west is dying, but I do not agree. Youth are leaving the buildings and organizations that have become irrelevant to thier world but they are searching for something new. I have seen in my own home town many leave the formal church only through creative mission work to go on to form real communities that pray oraise and learn the scripture together but have no need for the organizational structure that has been scared by corruption and scnadal. But keep the faith seek the spirit and gaze in wonder at the amazing things the Lord is about to do in the world.


10.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 1 J'aime Je n'aime pas Timothy_Eldred (1)  
États-Unis

The generation we serve globally is seeking higher standards and greater accountability If the church isn’t willing to great an atmosphere where you are expected to live their faith and lead by example, we will continue to see young people seek answers outside of Jesus. We must give youth ministry back to youth. 

I don’t want to promote a personal agenda, but www.christianendeavor.com gives churches the model free of charge. This movement has been working for 130 years worldwide to equip youth to put their faith in action, as they learn to lead the cause of Christ. 

Also, I will send my book, 4-Hour Youth Ministry, as a free gift to my Lausanne friends (www.4houryouthministry.com). It covers the theme of this conversation we’re having online. I just need you to email me at tim@christianendeavor.com.

Blessings.

Pièces jointes téléchargeables


20.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 1 J'aime Je n'aime pas Henrike_de_Gier (1)
Pays-Bas

Jetteke, thank you for adding this conversation! We definitily need to invest in youthword, we need to find new ways of reaching children and youth. But we also need honestly and critically look to the churches. Because although I am a youthworker in kind of a tradiotional church which I love, my question is: do this kind of churches still fit in the culture and are these churches in the way they are still able to reach and disciple new generations? I think this is an urgens, challenging and sometimes scary quest which I love to be part of!

Recently I read the book ’youthministry 3.0’, by Mark Oestreicher. I can recommend his book to everyone who is working with youth in the context of a church.


09.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 2 J'aime Je n'aime pas sashe (2)
États-Unis
@ Henrike_de_Gier:

Hi,


How do we find new ways without leaving Jesus out.  Most youth ministry cater to the Youth and not to Jesus.  the bible said faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  If this same word got the Youth in ancient days and kept, why can’t it do it for todays generation?


19.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Juan_Manuel_Isai_M (0)  
Salvador
@ sashe:

What a contribution! I think that some youth ministries are lost in the form and not go to the root, the gospel is transformative, challenging. What does being relevant to today’s culture? Is it just change forms? Could it be that the requirement of culture for the church today is rather to live the gospel of the kingdom in a deeper way? I think local churches who do not have all the resources such as multimedia or good bands, youth leaders who live in places with great access to information (due to globalization), but little access to resources to become "great" youth ministry . Young people are clamoring for real lives, real compassion, real love, real challenges, this is one of the realities that has not changed according to the of Cape Town Commitment: people are in need of the gospel. What if we have all the technology and resources do that?great!let us use them! but without losing sight of what matters.


19.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Juan_Manuel_Isai_M (0)  
Salvador

Hey Jetteke! thanks for share your toughts! Greetings from El Salvador!


31.03.2011
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas windjammer (4)
Canada

Thanks for these comments. Thanks too for the article.

I guess I could not disagree more with the last comment. There are a whole range of judgments here that I am not prepared to own. In our Denomination here in Canada we are currently leading the way in training Youth Pastors for their very hard and very challenging work with our Youth. The benefits are already being seen. Our denominational Divinity College is currently retooling in how they train these pastors. There has never been a more difficult time to be a youth or youth leader within the current context of the Western church because so very much of what our people endure on Sunday am is totally irrelevant with their daily lives. So take hope, help is on the way.

Yes parents are given the stewardship of their children’s Christian Ed Training. But they are not the only ones who are helping. Our Youth leaders understand their culture better than most of their parents. Children need to be socialized within the confines of other Youth who are struggling too with issues of faith. Our Youth Pastors need to be given total support, all the training they need, and lots of prayer, and understanding.


28.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas sam_bob (0)
États-Unis

The impression I have based on my own church experience is that the youth culture is at odds with the family culture. Or better stated we in America have lost sight of the value of the family. In many of our churches the youth group competes with the family for time and the discipleship of the youth has been "farmed out" to the "professionals".

It seems that the fathers in the home (the ones that are still in the home) have a passivity issue and its terribly difficult to mentor a teen so its way more convenient to give the responsibility to someone else. It just makes matters worse that the trained professional and their team happen to be very young themselves and in need of mentoring. 

Couple that issue with very little critical thinking and no strategy to teach a healthy biblical worldview we end up with young people floundering.

Our culture in and out of the church seems to encourage irresponsible people. The move from adolescence to maturity should be a progression from chaos to order, but sadly many youth groups get caught in teenage world that continues through college and unfortunately way beyond.

All that to say, I believe God intends for the family unit to teach maturity in Christ and we aren’t doing the job that God has called us to do.


28.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas tepursley2010 (1)
États-Unis

I have been in Youth Ministry for two years now and have been studying this trend for a while.  I think that one of the biggest problems with churches and their youth programs is that they are based on flash and not on content.  Youth are drawn into the mega churches with the laser light shows and are entertained, but when they leave for college and are on their own, they have no discipleship to make wise decisions.  Churches need to stop thinking about numbers and start thinking about content.  I would rather have 10 dedicated students who really know Christ, than 100 who are wishy washy with their faith. I am not saying that we should not outreach, what I am saying is that if we get decent discipleship programs in churches, out of that the numbers will grow.


21.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Timothy_Eldred (1)  
États-Unis

This issue being addressed is one of ownership.

How do we give ownership and gain young people committed to their faith in Jesus Christ?

The answer lies in the question. We must learn to let young people lead. As young people. The example of Jesus is our benchmark.

He recruited young men, taught them to recognize needs, trained them as he helped them realize their own gifts, and them instructed them to draw on his power.

After a short time, he ascended. But he gave them a mandate. Go and make disciples just like I have shown you.

We must learn to trust God, get out of young people’s way, and support his continued call on their life.

If young people do not learn to lead in the church, they leave it. This is true globally. In order for us to retain youth and see them own their faith, we must learn to trust God still uses young people.

The tools to make this happen are available for free from www.endeavormovement.com to anyone in the world.


20.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas josebernardo (0)  
Brésil

I care. We just published SUPER20 the report and proposal of our initiative to involve children and youth as targets and agents of the Great Commission. We observed that 77% of the evangelicals in Brazil did their first commitment to the Lord between 4 and 24 years old. Teens, from 11 to 17 have the higher number of conversions among the SUPER20, as we say, but also the higher number of deviation of the church and of the faith. 
Even if our countries are so different, the neurology of the teens, platform of our work, is the same. With the canceling of the mental maps used during childhood, the teen needs to rebuild his identity. Also, the afective based faith of the childhood have to be replaced by a racional (verbal) faith. The lack of capacity in the family and in the church to help in these process is the cause of so many leaving the churches.
The social aspect just works in the expression of what already happened mentally, without help, as the most post-modern societies grant more freedom and means to the teens. The Church must to prepare to help teens with the building of a valuable Christian identity and a consistent rational faith.

I care. We just published SUPER20 the report and proposal of our initiative to involve children and youth as targets and agents of the Great Commission. We observed that 77% of the evangelicals in Brazil did their first commitment to the Lord between 4 and 24 years old. Teens, from 11 to 17 have the higher number of conversions among the SUPER20, as we say, but also the higher number of deviation of the church and of the faith. 

Even if our countries are so different, the neurology of the teens, platform of our work, is the same. With the canceling of the mental maps used during childhood, the teen needs to rebuild his identity. Also, the afective based faith of the childhood have to be replaced by a racional (verbal) faith. The lack of capacity in the family and in the church to help in these process is the cause of so many leaving the churches.

The social aspect just works in the expression of what already happened mentally, without help, as the most post-modern societies grant more freedom and means to the teens. The Church must to prepare to help teens with the building of a valuable Christian identity and a consistent rational faith.

And yes, there is a lot more to say. Nothing is so simply for teens.


13.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas windjammer (4)
Canada

Thanks so much. This is truly a sobering yet truthful article. Many Youth have no place in the church. The services do not reflect their worship styles and or their approach to communication. In many ways they are a lost group. Church leadership needs to understand that our Youth are not the church of tomorrow but the church of today. The challenge is to make the youth feel welcome and to give them a solid voice within the local church. I hope this article will open up wider dialogue. 


11.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas David_Markham (3)  
États-Unis

Hello Jetteke, I work with youth and feel your pain. We need to get back to Bible basics and get the youth involved in World Evangelization. That is what Lausanne is about.

Jesus did not say, "Come follow me and I will lead you into a building where we can meet with other youth and have coffee and look at all our problems. He said "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

When I first came to Christ 25 years ago, I was immediately told to evangelize my unsaved friends. This changed my life and connected me to Jesus directly with His purposes. Making disciples, baring fruit, world evangelism, reaching unreached peoples, what ever you want to call it. We need to do it.

The problem I see in many youth movements is that they are not focused on making other disciples. Apparently Christ’s disciples were quickly told what their purpose was and not long afterward were sent out two by two. They were unlearned men and had little training or theology but knew that Christ was the Son of God. Tell people what you know even if you know little. You do know Christ and He does the saving, we just share the message.

Get your youth out of the building as much or more than they are in the building. You will come under some intense battles but you will be making disciples. They will learn more about who HE is as they go into all the world!

Blessings in Christ!


10.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Répondre Signaler 0 J'aime Je n'aime pas Jetteke_N (0)  
Pays-Bas
@ David_Markham:

Hi David,


 


Yes, we need to disciple the youth that comes to Christ and teach them how to reach out and do it! They will be able to get in contact with other youth around them and share the Gospel. 


 


This paper though, is not about that issue, but about the churches not being aware of what is happening to (their) youth. With churches of course meaning the people and not the building - for that is stones. And we do need older people, in maturity and age-wise, as the church is a body of all ages. A few years ago the youth churches in the Netherlands were very hot. Hundreds and thousands of youth gathering to worship, taking their friends. They are almost all gone now, they could not make it. Not without adults stepping in and helping out - leadership, organization, finances, teamwork, training, etc. We need one another. We also need a new focus on youth and the complex issues they are facing. We need a new focus on how the a church should work, according to the Bible. We need a change of heart!


 


And there is more to say - of course... :-)


10.10.2010

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