We still have a huge problem in the church seeing young people grow up to become adult members of our churches. This month in Christianity Magazine, Youthworker and IDEA magazine we have opened up a discussion about what needs to change in order for young people to be discipled into adult believers. The headline statistic is that:
1523 out of 2228 passengers and crew were drowned during the sinking of the Titanic – a loss of 68%. But according to Peter Brierley’s research of every class of 10 nought to nine year olds in Sunday School in 1985 only 3 were still connected with church in 2005. That’s a loss of 70%. You had a better chance of survival on the Titanic than a child’s faith has in our churches.
This has got to be one of the highest priorities for us to sort out as churches across the UK (and I am hearing across the world). It’s a bigger problem than any one church, tribe or denomination can solve. We need to work together on this one. I have been asking questions about this subject for a while now.
The Evangelical Alliance Council will meet on 1st of March to discuss the topic.
We will be drawing on expertise from a range of speakers including:
“Almost Christian” Kenda Creasey Dean Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture
Department of Practical Theology (on video)
“Stop cutting families out of children’s formation” Alan Charter (Chair of Children Matter)
“Is church toxic to children’s faith?” Kay Morgan Gurr
What can we learn from Redeemed churches Bajo Akinsanya (Jesus House)
“How can youth agencies work more effectively with families?” Hannah Field & Matt Summerfield
“Reshaping a church around intergenerational ministry” Jason Gardner & Carolyn Skinner
“How can we help young people develop confidence in the gospel? Ruth Hassall & Krish Kandiah
Debate : This house believes we should scrap Sunday schools and youthworkers
For: Scrap the Sunday School Benedict Mwendwa (Salvation Army Youth Advocate)
Against: Scrap Sunday Schools John Kee (Director of Summer Madness)
For: Scrap: youthworkers Jason Gardner (Youthworker and FUSE Director)
Against: Keep youthworkers Sarah Wynter (Youthwork Magazine Editor)
What can we learn from Abundant Life Dave Niblock and the youth team
We will put the videos online as soon as possible after the consultation.
This issue is so important we need as many hands on deck as possible, so if you have any suggestions, ideas of questions you would like to share please drop me a line below and the best of them will be fed into the council proceedings.
I am looking for great stories of churches that have unusual high retention rates of children and young adults.
I am looking for wisdom from parents on passing the faith on to children
I am looking for churches that have experimented with intergenerational ministry
I am looking for theological and biblical wisdom
I am looking for stories about what went wrong
I am looking for comments from young people for their perspectives and ideas on the way forward
So please drop me a line.
In the articles I drew on a number of books including:
David Kinaman’s excellent book is the most often quoted piece of literature in our office at the moment. Kinaman’s expert analysis of the US scene is very instructive for the UK audience too. He has called on the help of a number of significant thinkers and practioners to come up with a book which is strong on analysis and practical ideas for helping 20somethings stay connected.
Kara Powell and the Fuller Youth Institute have done a great job of promoting intergenerational thinking for churches.
This book offers some great practical advice for churches and youth ministries. It’s well worth the read . Check out their website for some excellent resources and videos.
Care for the Family have been touring with Rob Parsons and his excellent primer on this subject. Packed with the usual Parson’s story telling. Parsons has an incredible ability to challenge without guilt and inspire without daunting his readers. Well worth a read.
This book is based on serious research of the US youth scene. There are of course a number of differences with the UK situation, but this book should be a wake up call to the UK church to stop relying on US models of youth discipleship.