An Open Letter to Senior Pastors about the youth who attend their church.

Dear Senior Pastor and Leadership Team,

My name is David Sawler. I am senior leader of a Church in Glace Bay, NS. For the past decade of my life I have been studying and speaking on the topic of why a vast number of the children, youth, and young adults who grow up in our churches do not remain, and also why many stay.

There has been a lot of debate, worrying, wondering, and panic in some churches as there is an obvious problem. You may or may not be in this situation. However, this information could be invaluable to you now, or at some point in the future.

I have just spent a significant amount of time speaking to churches, ministries, and youth groups on this topic of why youth either stay or leave. I believe I have discovered, at least in part, some of the problem of why many leave while actually speaking at these churches and events. In over ninety percent of the places I have been asked to speak in the last five years, the people who hold the most influence on whether the children, youth, and young adults remain in their churches have not been present.

I do not think people are intentionally avoiding, afraid, or unaware of the topic. I don’t think people are actually that cold hearted and uncaring about the upcoming generations either. I believe that the people who hold the most influence don’t know who they are. Which is why I am writing this important message to you today.

The person who has the most effect on whether the youth in your church remain in your church is not the children’s pastor. It is not the youth pastor. It is not even the young adult pastor. It is not even the parents of these groups. The number one influencer is in fact you. It is the senior leader.

Two other groups who follow a close second are parents and the church leadership team. Parents are one of the biggest influencers in if children remain in their faith (Notice I did not say their church). Your leadership team / elders / board who oversee how all the ministries flow together are the next group.

If you have mistakenly thought that loss of youth was primarily your generational workers fault I am hoping that you humbly accept this message. It is not. Again please realize that you have more effect of if the youth and young adults in your church remain than your generational workers do. A truth few want to hear is this, ‘If you have zero connection with the kids and youth in your church now, they will have the same amount of connection with the church you lead when they are adults.’

As I am traveling this year, perhaps at your church or nearby, I am hoping to see you, your leadership team, and the parents in your church. I would encourage you to make this a priority. I would also encourage you to let your church and leadership know the influence and power they have. I know as you personally get involved with this generation you will blessed to see this generation stand and work with you and your church for many years to come.

Be blessed,

Rev David Sawler

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