58 percent of ‘highly engaged’ Christian parents choose a church mainly for the kids’ programs

"The [Barna Research] report noted that when asked if 'children’s program is the primary reason for church choice,' 22 percent of respondents who were 'highly engaged' said they 'strongly agree' while 36 percent said they “somewhat agree." - Christian Post

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WallyMorris's picture

What I found disappointing and even somewhat hypocritical over the years is the refusal of Christian families looking for a church to not even consider helping a church develop its youth ministries. They instead look for a church which already has developed youth ministries which they then can just plug their children immediately into, taking advantage of the hard work which others have done but not willing to do the hard work themselves. I understand that some families need something for their children immediately, but the refusal to help a church build its youth ministries is astounding.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

Perhaps it's good, really, that many parents value a good youth program that much, no?

That said, perhaps the biggest problem is what Wally alludes to; that too many parents effectively delegate their childrens' spiritual development to the church, setting up a situation where the youth pastor and volunteers cannot really devote the 1:1 time to really make disciples.  The end result is that youth group becomes primarily games and secondarily "watered down" teaching that often centers on what to think about the Scripture instead of how to think Biblically.

And then parents wonder why their children don't stay in the church when they grow up.  Certainly not the only reason, but just as certainly, one of them.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

What I found disappointing and even somewhat hypocritical over the years is the refusal of Christian families looking for a church to not even consider helping a church develop its youth ministries. They instead look for a church which already has developed youth ministries which they then can just plug their children immediately into, taking advantage of the hard work which others have done but not willing to do the hard work themselves. I understand that some families need something for their children immediately, but the refusal to help a church build its youth ministries is astounding.

Yes. I experienced this in a church plant. Week after week families came, enjoyed everything and left with smiles on their faces. When they never returned and you called on them to see how they were doing, everyone said they decided to go to a large church with a big youth group... even if they had left large churches before because they were impersonal.  We never figured out how to overcome that.

Interestingly, even at a ~500 person church with a large children's ministry we loose to a "cooler" church that is even bigger. So, there is always a "better" place for people to cast their eyes on.

Andrew K's picture

It's condescending to children and teens to pull them out of the service and not provide them opportunity to deal with serious Bible study, topics, and themes in an age-appropriate fashion.

Look at what's popular in YA fiction: cancer, suicide, etc. Kids want to think about serious things and want to be taken seriously. They don't want Veggietales, puppet shows, and movie + pizza parties. Granted, they might in the short-term. But that stuff has a really short shelf-life, as most churches can attest.

One thing I love about most OPC churches is how the pastor will often open the service with a little explanation of the sermon for the children. I've seen them call them to the front few rows and give them a 5-word summary to repeat, or a little handout to follow along.

Such churches do a much better job in keeping their young people, I have observed; even with no significant children or teen ministries.

Ed Vasicek's picture

The problem with so many shallow  adult Christians (e.g., never read through the Bible, adopting the world's values, shortage of wisdom/discernment, etc.) begins in childhood, esp. youth groups.  Parents send their kids to a group that they like, which is not necessarily deeply spiritual.  The group of "what's happening now."  Then, when they grow up, they want the church of what's happening now.

They never learn the discipline of not being fascinated or engaged every moment, of quiet, of things like prayer and the "non-exciting" nature of much of the Christian life.  We give them high arousal activities and meetings, and then they continue on that path -- if they continue in church at all.  The world can often trump the church when it comes to high arousal.

Almost always, the kids who do well in adulthood had parents who practiced their faith at home.

"The Midrash Detective"

Paul Henebury's picture

At least this poll is more honest than the one where the majority of "Christians" claimed that the number 1 consideration for choosing a church was good preaching.  In my experience the preaching is not important to these folks.  At least not preaching Truth from Scripture rather than telling them that God affirms them!  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Yup.  The problem is the very subjective evaluation most people use to identify "good preaching."  It seems to mean something like, "appeals to me."  It almost always relates to style of delivery, personality of the preacher, and his ability to hold attention through personal illustrations and fluffy self-help applications.  (wearing jeans and a T-shirt is usually a plus as well)

G. N. Barkman