summer_2003_007aI’m curious as to how this is for others out there. Since coming to Gateway, one of my priorities has been to help transition 5th graders into the middle school. We promote on August 24th. Over the summer we’ve had 4 5th grade preview services where our 5th graders were taken to the middle school program for a sneak peak. This has been very successful as both the kids and parents of the kids have given us great feedback. However, over the past three preview services, we’ve seen 15-20 5th graders each week on the average… and I’m probably being a little optimistic with the numbers. Yeah, I said 15-20!

There’s nothing wrong with having 15-20 5th graders on any given weekend (for three services). Many churches don’t even have that many. However, I have about 80 five year olds each Sunday. Yes, 80. What we have here is called elementary attrition. It is where we slowly lose kids as they get older. If I were to guess, this happens at most churches because ministry becomes less and less relevant as the kids get older. We’re using Veggie Tales and puppets to reach our older elementary age kids. Typically, our middle school ministries hit the mark in reaching these kids in a relevant way, but they often have to start from scratch because many of the 5th graders stopped coming long ago.

So, the task before me at Gateway is to restructure our program for 4th and 5th graders. We’ll do anything necessary to be relevant to these kids. We’re also adding small groups on the weekends to add the relational component, this way they’ll at least be connected. I plan to run the numbers for the other grades as well to see the grade that the attrition really starts.

What about you guys? Have you recognized any attrition patterns with your elementary age kids? Do you have more older elementary kids or less? What do you attribute to this?

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