I ran a few posts recently on the survey that showed the number of students that leave church, never to return after graduation. I shared with you that the real problem was that somewhere the gospel had been missed. When scripture is not highly regarded or shown in our churches or in our families, it sends the message that Christ and His Word are simply an addendum to life – a void to be filled at your convenience. Rather, if Scripture becomes central to our everyday decision making and critical in every area of our daily life, it demonstrates that Christ and His Word ARE our life. It is very easy for students to walk away if church is just an “add on” to the rest of their good activities. This is one of the reasons that, at Trinity, we reject the modern day student ministry philosophy and, as Pastors we feel that the greatest thing we can do is equip our parents to disciple those under their authority. Of course we want to build relationships with our students, but not at the expense of isolating the family or the parent.
Let me give you a statistic that will blow your mind! Outside of parenting and genuine conversion, one of best things you can do that will assure your children stay active in the body of Christ after they graduate is…AWANA. This is not some statistic made up by your Pastor. Look---http://www3.awana.org/about/default.aspx?id=2888
Some highlights from this study:
- Church attendance – 92.7 percent of our alumni continue to regularly attend church as adults. Only 1.8 percent said they had dropped out of church since high school. By contrast, 36 percent of Americans surveyed by Baylor who attended church at age 12 said they are now unchurched as adults.
- Jesus and salvation – 98.6 percent of our alumni believe Jesus is God’s Son compared to 70 percent of Americans and 85 percent of Protestants. 93 percent of our alumni believe Christ is the only way to salvation. 69.6 percent of Americans do not.
- Belief about the Bible – 94 percent of our alumni believe the Bible is God’s Word compared to 58 percent of Americans and 73 percent of Protestants. Our alumni are also 3.6 times more likely to read in virtually every case the Bible several times a week.
- Church service – At 74 percent, alumni were five times more likely than Americans polled by Baylor to serve their church 11 hours or more a month.
- Personal evangelism – 70 percent of alumni said they share their faith with friends at least once a month compared to 35.7 percent of the national average, 48.7 percent of Protestants and 59 percent of the most devoted churchgoers.
Now, I can present an argument that this has more to do with parents spending time with their children around the Word of God, or children being in churches that have a high regard for the Word and passion for the true gospel. You can give me the “which comes first” argument. But with statisticians freaking out about the number of graduates leaving the church, maybe there is a pretty simple answer. Maybe parents who value the Word, in a church that values the Word, and together they passionately work to make sure the children hide the Word of God in their hearts...maybe THAT makes a difference! Maybe the Word is sufficient…hmmm…that just sound too easy doesn’t it? (Sarcasm strongly implied)
So, a GIANT “THANK YOU” to all our AWANA workers! You are doing eternal work!