The recent New York Times article, “Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers,” has stirred up a great deal of conversation among fundamentalists and evangelicals alike. While the article focused on broader Evangelicalism, many fundamentalists are wrestling with the same phenomenon. Upon graduation from high school, far too many teenagers follow the call of the wild, drift away from the church, and (in some cases) repudiate their faith in Christ.
There is a sense in which this development should not be surprising at all. Since World War II, youth ministry in the United States has taken on a life of its own. Parachurch organizations were founded to focus on evangelizing and serving teenagers. Pastoral positions were created for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of high school students. And the Christian school movement has deluded some parents into thinking that their children’s academic environment will inevitably produce a disciple of Christ.