9 out of 10 Graduates Drop out of Church – WRONG???!!! – “Family Ministry Field Guide” – Discussion & Giveaway Day #2

Keith Tusing September 13, 2011 9

9 out of 10 Graduates Drop out of Church   WRONG???!!!   Family Ministry Field Guide   Discussion & Giveaway Day #2 Children\s Ministry YouthWe have all heard the Infamous Evangelical Dropout Statistic – 80% – 90% of our students are dropping out of church after they graduate from High School.  Most of us have probably quoted this statistic in our churches and to our staff members.  Many of us have used this statistic to push for change in our Children’s and Youth Ministries.  The question that Dr. Timothy Paul Jones brings to light in “Family Ministry Field Guide”: “Is your church actually losing that many?” In FMFG Dr. Jones makes the case with actual facts that the Drop out rate is totally incorrect.

Today is Day #2 of our discussion about Dr. Jones’ new book “Family Ministry Field Guide.” As we continue our discussion we are also giving away another copy of the book (details about your chance to WIN are below).   I will say that I think FMFG is a must-read for everyone involved with children, youth and families.

So, what do you think of the Drop Out Statistic?  How many times have your heard it quoted?  Have you quoted it yourself? I confess I have personally quoted this stat myself.  Where do you think this “set-in-stone” statistic originated?   Dr. Jones shares some enlightening facts in his book that should make a difference in our perspective and maybe in our approach.   But, even assuming this oft quoted statistic were correct would it be enough reason to realign the ministry models of your church?  What about Jesus…how concerned was he with attrition rates? Check out John 6:1-70!

Now, what do you think of this quote from Dr. Jones: “Whenever anyone drops out of active involvement in Christian community, the congregation is correct to be concerned! Yet neither numeric retention nor expansion can constitute a sufficient goal for reshaping a church’s practices.  Jesus is the paradigm for the growth of God’s people (Phil. 2:5, Heb. 12:2)  The church is the body of Christ, and the church’s value and identity flow down the all-surpassing glory of Jesus (Eph. 4:12-16; Col. 1:24-27; 3:1-4). The goal of the Gospel is not a human ideal of retaining members in a visible community; the goal is to call people to Jesus. And so the critical question is not, ‘How many participants have we retained? ‘ but ‘Who has glimpsed the truth of Jesus and the gospel in what we are doing?’ Retention rates aren’t the launching pad or the end-point of God’s plan; Jesus is (Rev. 22:13).

Ok, today’s post should give us all some thoughts to ponder! So, what are your thoughts?  Let’s hear your comments!

Answer one or both of the questions below with a Comment to be Entered in Today’s drawing for a copy of “Family Ministry Field Guide.”

Does what you’ve read cause you to rethink some existing assumptions?

What do you think of this quote:  ”American evangelicals, who profess to be committed to Truth, are among the worst abuser of simple descriptive statistics…of any group I have ever seen.  At stake in this issue are evangelicals’ own integrity, credibility with outsiders, and effectiveness in the world.” – Christian Smith

To Double your chances in today’s Drawing to WIN a copy of “Family Ministry Field Guide” simply tweet this Today (copy & paste):

@KeithTusing is giving away three copies of “Family Ministry Field Guide” Check it out at cmbuzz.com today!


  1. Cory Lamb September 13, 2011 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I would disagree with Dr. Jones. We should be highly concerned with our retention rate as churches. I don’t mean to say we shouldn’t send people out as missionaries and church planters. However, I do mean to say that we should aim at more than just giving people “glimpses” of the gospel. I don’t want my youth just catching a passing glimpse of Jesus and then going on about their way. If they are able to just go on about their way, I”m not so sure they truly beheld the glory of the Son of God.  In fact, I would argue that if we (the church) aren’t retaining people then they were never called to Jesus in the first place. I can’t find any justification in scripture for the idea that one can be a follower of Jesus, yet have nothing to do with the body of Christ. Amen to this statement: “Retention rates aren’t the launching pad or the end-point of God’s plan; Jesus is (Rev. 22:13). But when Jesus saves, he also completes the work that he has begun(Romans 8:29;30). One of those works he has promised to complete is the building of his church (a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 peter 2:9)) and he has promised that he will call out to his sheep, and once they come in he will never lose any of his sheep from the sheepfold. (John 10).

  2. Eric Haynes September 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    I am always skeptical of the validity of statistics and we should be cautious in changing strategy based on number alone, but I do think we have to be concerned with the growing disenfranchisement of youth today away from the church, not from a numerical factor, but from a reflective nature that wonders why they are pulling away.  Could it be that the modern church today is more concerned with appearances and political warfare than introducing them to a personal Jesus that is calling them away from the lies of a materialistic world and into an intimate relationship that can deal with their mistakes, confusion, and doubts in a frank and authentic way?

  3. Jeff September 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    That makes sense that this number is inflated. The Methodist Church probably would list me as a drop out, because I moved on to a church without formal membership that many denominations have,.

  4. Victoria H. September 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    I don’t like playing the “numbers” game, and I never will. It’s really frustrating to me to hear people measure the success of an event by how many people showed up. However, I do think that we should be concerned when older youth and college students stop going to church. I am a college student who is heavily involved in my university’s Campus Ministry, and I have noticed that a lot of my peers who don’t come to chapel services or events are putting other things as the focus of their life. They give up time to be with God and in fellowship with other Christians for academics or because they are heavily involved in other organizations on campus. I think we should be concerned that these students are finding things other than God to focus on in life. I agree with Eric too that we should be figuring out why young adults pull away from church in the first place. These young adults are the future leaders of our church. How will the church grow and serve others if we are not teaching and encouraging young people to grow in their faith in Christ? How can we teach and encourage them if they don’t come? How can we remind them that we should be giving time to God, not just other things? Though I don’t like the idea of counting numbers, and I think that we sometimes focus too much on quantity than quality in regards to programming, I do think that we should look at these statistics and use them to improve our churches and to make the quality of our ministry better.

  5. Heather S September 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    I think that it is important to strike a balance between not being a numbers-driven ministry and paying attention to statistics. True, statistics can be skewed to prove a point, but I know I have witnessed many “drop out” of church in their early 20′s who are children from strong Christian homes. I think there are many reasons for this, and it is not an easy issue to solve, but it all comes out of the “church culture” of the last decade and what that culture has produced in the lives of kids. Things are changing though, and that has been a result  of stats such of these, as well as a general feeling of discontent in a group of activist-oriented 20-somethings.

  6. Dr. G. September 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    In my day job, I’m a physician (child and adolescent psychiatry) who spent a number of years serving as a reviewer of research studies for several journals and our national professional society. I’ve also noticed the carelessness with which leaders in church world continually repeat statistics without citing the original source of the statistics or ascertaining whether significant flaws existed in the design of the research. Because of who we represent as Christians, I’ve personally sensed an equal responsibility to demonstrate integrity with statistics in front of a church audience as the one I hold doing a research presentation in front of an audience of physicians.

    Here’s a blog post I did earlier this year on this topic as it relates to the subject of divorce in families where kids have special needs: http://wp.me/pd3Cx-e8

  7. Keith September 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Numbers! Retention Rates? Statistics? Growth!  Are these really important?  Of course they are… in context.  My gut feeling is that too often we rely on these things as proof of something that we support or that we desire.  
    My personal  goal is to make the #1 Thing the #1 Thing. Isaiah 55 is a great reminder of the Power of the Word and Matthew 7 also applies to this discussion.

  8. Vanessa September 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    I think that sometimes statistics can be misused, as they can’t always represent the true picture of what is happening in every church since each church is unique. But at the same time, we shouldn’t dismiss statistics like this. If there are high drop-out rates, the church needs to be asking why and what we can do about it.

  9. Janet September 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I’ve seen a different study done by the University of Texas saying that college grads tend to keep their faith, while those who go no further than high school tend to walk away. See this:

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