Stemming the loss…

I listened to a sermon by Dwight Nelson (Pioneer Memorial Church) recently that should cause great concern for those of us in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.  He sited stats from Roger Dudley’s study of Adventist teenagers (15-16 year-olds) Why Our Teenager Leave the Church? Here are some of the numbers:

  • A conservative analysis of the data reveals that between 40-50% of young adults are dropping out of the church.
  • Of the approximately 50% who do remain, only 55% attend church regularly, 45% return a tithe, 34% attend Sabbath School, and 21% hold some type of church office.
  • Moreover, only 13% read the Bible daily and 30% weekly, while 36% rarely or never do.
  • “Many are finding a good experience in the church, love it dearly, and are deeply committed to it.  But as we have seen, 40 percent to 50 percent of those who are baptized members in their mid-teens will drop out of the church by the time they are halfway through their 20s.  This is a hemorrhage of epic proportions.” (60, emphasis supplied)
  • “The church can have no higher priority than stemming the loss of young adults and winning back those who have left its ranks.” Roger Dudley, Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church
  • “Many teenagers and young adults are leaving the church because they perceive it to be behavior-centered when they are looking for relationships…’without [new] effort we will never retain our youth.  They will not continue to struggle in a contest they cannot possibly win.'” Roger Dudley, Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church

Pretty significant study one I think has implications for our adult ministries as well.  Not only do young people see our church as being behavior-oriented many adults do also.  Our challenge is to move away from the hyper-religious, behavior-centered model of how we do church to a gospel-centered, community of faith.  Then the back door will be closed to both the young and the not so young.  Your thoughts…

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About pastor bernie

Collegiate/Young Adult pastor Forest Lake Church, near Orlando, FL

2 responses to “Stemming the loss…”

  1. Becca says :

    Very thought provoking Bernie. It’s something I think about a lot. I’m married to a man who left due to many of the things mentioned. I pray a lot and also pray that I can love and instruct my children so that as they grow, mature and start studying on their own they realized it’s about our relationship with Christ and NOTHING else and not to let outside influences (within) the church to affect us. Very hard to do. Parenting is full of wonder and joy and also very, very hard! 🙂

  2. Bonnie Anderson says :

    Hi Berni – I heard this sermon also – very sobering. I have a 24-year-old son who has left in practice if not in heart. My younger daughters are 12 and 10 and I fear for them also as our church isn’t geared to reaching/keeping them. I’m trying my best at home but it’s hard. They’re not reading their Bibles every day on their own. We need to keep lifting our kids up before the Lord and disempowering Satan in our prayers on their behalf.
    I hope to visit your church next w/e – I’m going to be in SLC for a SendOutCards convention!

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