Give Kids a Faith that Sticks

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Have you heard those startling statistics about the number of kids who no longer practice their faith after high school? There is a significant number of people who grew up in church, but no longer adhere to the Christian faith. Ed Stetzer is an author, Lead Pastor, and President of Lifeway Research. In this post, he shares some interesting statistics about church retention, giving several practical ways to increase the odds that the kids in your church will have a faith that lasts.

Were any of the statistics that Ed shared surprising to you? Which ones? Do they leave you encouraged, discouraged, or somewhere between? Why?
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Ed gave four factors that were common among those teens who stayed in church:
  1. Both parents were married and in church.
  2. Sermons were relevant to their lives.
  3. The church gave practical guidance.
  4. There was an adult, other than a parent, who invested in them significantly during their teen years.
While by no means requirements nor guarantees of lasting faith, when those four things came together, retention was significantly higher statistically.

Think about the kids in your student ministry. About what percentage would you say belong to homes where both parents are married and attend the church? How can your church reach out to parents of students who don't have a relationship with the Lord?
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What do you think makes a sermon or teaching relevant? How do you maintain cultural relevance and gospel integrity in your sermons and teaching?
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In what ways does your church actively try to give students practical guidance? Brainstorm new mediums for giving guidance and subjects where students would most benefit from some direction.
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Growing up, did you ever have someone older than you, other than your parent, who mentored you? What life lessons did you learn from them that have stuck with you? What was unique about that relationship that you couldn't have found with your parents?
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Is there currently a structure for partnering teens with an adult mentor at your church? If so, what does it look like and how have students responded? If not, what might that look like and what would fruit would you desire to see? Who are some potential adult mentors (or disciple makers) that would be well-suited for investing in students?
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At the end of the day, our efforts as church leaders cannot keep people from walking away from the Lord. However, He has given us practical wisdom, like what Ed shared, to help build a foundation for a faith that lasts.