Ever wonder when churches, youth groups, or most organizations lose the most people? It is during times of transition. In Canada, the largest drop of in church attendance comes between Children’s ministry and Jr High. Then there seems to be some significant drops later on, as well, like when students graduate.
When life seems to be changing quickly, it may be a good idea to find a few things to hold onto. Times of transition can uproot youth from everything that has helped keep thier faith strong. Everyone has had people, places, and things which have helped them in their spiritual journey. It can be devastating to lose one, or several of these constants simultaneously.
The good news is we’re aware of this and you can be proactive. There are steps you can take so people never lose all their constants. However, you may need to take a moment to think about what they are. A parent? Family member? A youth pastor? Your church? Time spent alone reading your Bible? Christian friends? If we plan ahead we can discover ways to keep them or find new ones to replace them as things in our lives change.
Here are a few ideas that can be adapted according to the age group. If you go to college or university and do not connect with a church, or some sort of faith group, in the first few weeks it’s likely you never will during your time at that campus. So if faith is a priority then be sure to get connected people as soon as possible. Before students leave home start searching for groups, ministries, and churches to connect with while they are away at school. The first place they go to may not be for them, but encourage them keep looking. Make sure they get connected somewhere. It takes time build relationships and connect sometimes. Work hard at it, it will be worth it. The same principle applies to kids transitioning into new age groups with new ministries in your church.
Perhaps, you need to ask parents, friends, or youth pastors, to hold students accountable to connect with a new church or ministry. In the months before students leave for school, a new location, or a new age group, sit down with your accountability people and schedule when they will contact during the new school year to follow up (tell them to mark it on a calendar, or put a reminder on their phone so they won’t forget). Once you recognize what the constants are go out of your way to make sure some will remain through life’s major transitions in your youth’s lives. In time, some or all of their constants may change, this is just part of growing. But recognize these constants really are strength points. They are where we get encouragement, and a kick in the butt when we need it.