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Kara Powell and Brad Griffin: How to Answer the Faith Questions Teens Are Actually Asking

“There’s plenty to be concerned about for any of us who care about young people when we consider the trend that we’ve been looking at for more than a decade of young people walking away from God and the church. And it happens before graduation.”

“The further you get away from a faith community, the more likely you are to stay away. And I think that’s something to pay attention to for all of us is, you know, how much are we following up with those young people we know who have drifted?”

“Maybe it’s not doubts that are toxic to faith. It’s silence. And I think we can promote that silence when we shut down those questions, when we shut down those critiques.”

“I do think it’s on us to be open receptacles to hear those questions, to take those critiques and again, to say, ‘Tell me more,’ and to sit with that and also to say, ‘Hey, I’d love to talk about that more. I’d love to share my own perspective, you know, I’d love to hear.’”

“In my conversations with teenagers, that’s part of what I hear them wanting to hear. You know, they want to hear, ‘Well, is there only one way to be a Christian? Is there only one right answer to all these hard questions that we have? Or is there room for—in particular—is there room for me?”

“A colleague of ours has said that being heard is so close to being loved. That for most people, they’re almost the same thing. I think, as a leader and as a parent, I often think I’ve heard someone, maybe especially a young person, and I really haven’t heard them.”

Key Quotes From Dr. Kara Powell

“Part of why Brad and I worked with our team to write this book is because of what one 15-year-old verbalized to a youth ministry leader. What he said was, ‘I wish the church would stop giving me answers to questions I’m not asking.’”

“Some of the bright spots that we saw in churches in the last 18 months were they were really tapping into young people’s sense of purpose, desire to make an impact, because for the first time in my 30 years of youth ministry, teenagers were not overly busy. With every extracurricular being cancelled, with classes being online and often ramping down homework a little bit, kids actually had discretionary time.”

“Only 10 percent of young people during the pandemic had an adult from a faith community reach out to them.”

“We’ve looked at Barna and Pew and Gallup and a number of studies, but what we tend to say is about 40 to 50 percent. So even there, there’s a range, but 40 to 50 percent of youth group graduates drift from the faith community after they graduate from high school.”

“I’m not quite sure what the data is for this generation of young people. But I do know that young people are getting married and having kids later, often five or more years later. And so you know what that tells me is the ruts of a young person’s life are even deeper by the time they have that child. So I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s less than 50 percent and maybe a lot less than 50 percent, once they have kids, who get reengaged in the faith community.”

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Jessica is a content editor for ChurchLeaders.com and the producer of The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past five years. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys West Coast Swing dancing, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.