There’s a very interesting article worth reading over at childrensministry.com about the infamous “dropout” rate that is causing many churches to question the effectiveness of their ministries and causing many churches to swing to a family model. I’ve actually sited the significant dropout statistics as a reason for our church to move to a more family centered model.
I’m very glad that this article was written as it draws attention to the issue. However, I have to say that I’m not in agreement with several parts of the article, but some excellent points are made.
First of all, I’ve not heard of this 9 out of 10 dropout. For the last 3-5 years, I’ve been more familiar with the studies conducted by Lifeway, the Assemblies of God (I think) and the research the Barna group has done and none of those posted a dropout rate as high as 90%. So, I guess the 90% dropout myth is a myth I wasn’t aware of… which surprised me if it is so pervasive. The article does though make it very clear though that the 90% dropout rate is not correct.
However, the 70% dropout rate from LifeWay was sited and due to some factors of the LifeWay site, the dropout rate probably is closer to 50-70%. Obviously, a 50-70% dropout rate is better than 90%, but 50-70% is still a failure in my book. So, if debunking the 90% myth was the primary objective of this article, then I’d say this article was successful on that account. However, I think it points to the problem that still remains, kids are still dropping out.
One thing I really appreciate about this article though:
“The bigger lie is that the effectiveness of your ministry depends on how many people you attract and retain.”
I agree wholeheartedly. We as ministers are often too shortsighted. We see growth from last year to this year and pat ourselves on the back… but if we’re not looking farther into the future, who cares if we’re running more kids this year than last. I think we should be asking ourselves the questions, “Is what I’m doing now going to make it more likely that these kids will still be following Jesus when they’re 20?” Some how we have to tap into that kind of thinking.
Lastly, the article seemed to explain that many churches have moved toward a family model because of a belief in the 90% dropout statistic. Just because the 90% dropout rate isn’t true doesn’t mean that a family model doesn’t help with the statistically truer 50-70% dropout rate. Barna’s book “Revolutionary Parenting ” states a strong case for a family model, one that equips parents. Most of the kids who continued to follow Jesus into their 20’s did so because mom and dad drove the spiritual development, which is a big part of the family model.
So, good article, even if there were some points to disagree with.
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Couldn’t agree more in regard to the importance to look out into the future. I take churches I work through brainstorming exercises to do just that. Here are two activities to help churches look into the future of their kids
Have them brainstorm who they want the kids to be when they are 40 http://www.kidtrek-sundayplus.org/2010/10/12/child-discipleship-who-do-you-want-a-child-to-be-when-he-is-40/
Then brainstorm what the kids need today to get to that place at 40 http://www.kidtrek-sundayplus.org/2010/10/22/child-discipleship-what-do-kids-need-today-to-become/
In regard to family ministry – yes parents are first in importance when it comes to discipling children, however kids need other adults in their lives. The Lifeway study showed that. Another study that was done years ago also shows this. Parents can’t do it alone.
I see too many churches pushing their responsibility onto the parents. Parents need the church to provide intentional training of themselves, and provide intentional discipleship of their children by other godly adults.