Most pastors, church staff, and church going parents are familiar with the statistics on youth leaving the church upon graduation. Whenever you hear someone speak on youth ministry at a youth ministry conference or pastor’s conference these statistics are quoted. As a student minister these statistics break my heart. I want every one of my students to continue to pursue a passionate/loving relationship with Jesus throughout the rest of their lives.
Here are some things that we can do to help students not become a statistic:
1.) Partner with Parents
Parents are the number one influence in a student’s life. What are you doing to encourage, equip, and minister to parents?
Some ways that I have done this is by having a parent meeting and making it fun! Parents like to play games, have fun, and win stuff! At this meeting I get info from parents using a survey. I have free resources available for them. I also have some questions they can discuss in small groups that allow them to connect with other parents.
2.) Talk to students about the importance of parents
I always try to remind students that parents will be there for them a lot longer than their friends. Now, I understand that some kid’s parents are absentee but most kids have at least one parent living with them or a parental figure they live with. When a kid doesn’t have a healthy parental influence in their life or a parent who doesn’t know the Lord I challenge them with this: God wants you to be a witness to them. God gave them to you for a reason.
3.) Expose students to Missions
This one is important to me. We have two mission opportunities for youth each summer. I love exposing students to new cultures, new experiences, and to the needs in our world. Mission trips are a great opportunity for me to get to know students, youth workers, and parents better. It is also an opportunity for students to serve people, share their stories/testimonies, and to share the Gospel. Students usually come back from mission trips with a new desire to share their faith and thankful. Thankful for parents, their church, their stuff, etc…
4.) Expose students to Colleges students doing it right
I love it when i have the opportunity to bring in college students who love the Lord, are plugged into a church, and have a love for pouring into students. I usually try to get one or two for a lock-in, d-now, or as a sponsor to another event. This one is especially good when you are able to bring in an ex-student from your very own youth ministry. The truth is that not all college students leave the church. Find the ones who haven’t and have them come hang out with your students.
5.) Preach about it
We often teach students and hope that the message will challenge them to make a decision for God. Either a decision to do something, not to do something, or to quit doing something. I’ve notice however, that there is not a lot of curriculum out there that challenges/ prepares students in this specific area. There is some stuff for junior and senior students but what about our other students? Wouldn’t it be helpful to begin having conversations with all jr high and high school students about things they can do to not become a statistic?
Click HERE to see a 3 week series i have written that i hope helps youth ministries begin the conversation with their students.
About the series:
Today, many Jesus loving, Bible quoting, youth group going students head to a strange new land called their “College years” (a land without parents, where students can do whatever they want) and they trade in the things of God for the things of the world. In the Old Testament, Daniel was in the same situation. He was in a strange new land without parents yet, he Resolved to continue to walk with the Lord. In this series, your students will discover what Daniel did to be faithful in a foreign land. My hope is that this series will give students a goal, plan, and desire to live for God throughout junior high, high school and college.
Emmanuel Jimenez is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Bronte.