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Better Than Ten Percent: Pastoring Young People Through the Pandemic

Recently, one of my friends posted on Facebook the following question: “Trends indicate that the church is losing an entire generation of young people. What can reverse this trend?

There were a lot of responses, ranging from revival to education to community.

On that same day, I received an email from Springtide Research sharing some of their findings from one of their latest surveys.

In The State of Religion & Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty, our research is revealing some surprising things.

First, only 10% of young people told us a faith leader reached out to them during the pandemic.

Second, only 16% of young people turn to faith leaders in times of uncertainty—which is the same percent of young people who tell us they turn to “no one.”

Ten percent of young people had a faith leader reach out to them over the year-long pandemic.

Let’s put these two pieces of information into context: One statement contends that the church is “losing” an entire generation, presumably the youngest generations. The other states that during a global, year-long pandemic that has been proven to have had a profound impact on the youngest generations, only 10% of them had a faith leader reach out to them.

I know, I’ve repeated that statistic a few times. I’m hoping at this point the reality of what is being experienced by young people in the church is beginning to sink in.

Revival without relationship, education without empathy, and community without consistency will not bring about lasting, lifelong, dynamic faith formation. It will bring about a deconstructing, disassociating generation who know A LOT about the Bible but very little about the Church; who can quote Bible verses and win treasure boxes and go on mission trips but never experience a community that allows for doubt, questions, disagreement, or meaningful intergenerational relationships.