Many blog posts and books cover the subject of keeping young adults in church after high school graduation. But I want to narrow it down to four practical solutions.
When congregations use these tips, they’re more likely to retain young adults in church after graduation.
4 Ways to Keep Young Adults in Church
1. Biblical Depth
Sam Rainer, who’s studied millennials with Lifeway, finds that students who hear sound sermons weekly, are involved in small-group Bible study, and study the Bible on their own rarely drop out. Yet church leaders think the solution to keeping young adults in church involves cool technology, relevancy, a casual environment, and contemporary music.
I’m not against those things; in fact, they’re all good. But they cannot be the most important thing. Millennials do like these things. Yet according to research by the Barna Group and Lifeway, they value biblical depth much more. Rainer’s challenge to church leaders: Go deeper!
The second way to keep young adults in church is through a mentorship program. Research proves: Teens who receive mentoring and discipleship from an adult are less likely to leave church after high school. But many churches have gone away from that focus.
The best example of a good mentorship program is between the apostle Paul and young Timothy. The Baker Encyclopedia on the Bible describes their relationship this way: “The apostle Paul, undoubtedly Timothy’s spiritual father, refers to him as ‘my true child in the faith’ (1 Tm 1:2); he perhaps converted Timothy on his first or second missionary journey. The son of a Greek (or gentile) father, Timothy was yet uncircumcised; however, when Paul decided to take Timothy with him on the second journey, he had him circumcised, so as not to hinder their missionary endeavors among the Jews. Timothy, who was ‘well-spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium’ (Acts 16:2), became Paul’s companion and assistant on his second missionary journey at Lystra.”
Paul invested in young Timothy. He discipled Timothy, challenged him with practical ministry application, and ministered with him. Paul did life with Timothy and gave leadership away to Timothy. That’s a good mentorship program. If we did this more, I believe more young adults would stay in church.