This is a devotion that I found today that is very helpful. And of course I added a few things in with it.
Protestant churches are losing young adults in "sobering" numbers, a survey finds.
Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 -- both evangelical and mainline -- who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.
"This is sobering news that the church needs to change the way it does ministry," says Ed Stetzer, director of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"It seems the teen years are like a free trial on a product. By 18, when it's their choice whether to buy in to church life, many don't feel engaged and welcome," says associate director Scott McConnell.
The statistics are based on a survey of 1,023 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who said they had attended church at least twice a month for at least one year during high school. LifeWay did the survey in April and May. Margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Few of those surveyed had kind words for fellow Christians when they reflected on how they saw church life in the four years after high school.
Just over half (51%) of Protestant young people surveyed (both the church dropouts and those who stayed on in church after age 22) saw church members as "caring" or had other positive descriptions, such as "welcoming" (48%) or "authentic" (42%).
Among dropouts, nearly all (97%) cited life changes, such as a move. Most (58%) were unhappy with the people or pastor at church. More than half (52%) had religious, ethical or political reasons for quitting.
Dropouts were more than twice as likely than those who continued attending church to describe church members as judgmental (51% for dropouts, 24% for those who stayed), hypocritical (44% vs. 20%) or insincere (41% vs. 19%)
The news was not all bad: 35% of dropouts said they had resumed attending church regularly by age 30. An additional 30% attended sporadically. Twenty-eight percent said "God was calling me to return to the church."
The survey found that those who stayed with or returned to church grew up with both parents committed to the church, pastors whose sermons were relevant and engaging, and church members who invested in their spiritual development.
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)
It was a pretty amazing story! Can you imagine the excitement of being involved in the early church? These believers knew their purpose and they were firmly committed to trusting the Holy Spirit to lead them to glorify God and build His Kingdom through the Church.
We can use the model found in Acts 2 as God's instructions on how to have an effective church:
WORSHIP: The early believers praised God every day, met for prayer, shared in the Lord's Supper and experienced a deep sense of awe. DO YOU STRIVE TO PRAISE GOD IN YOUR WORSHIP AT YOUR CHURCH, NO MATTER WHAT THE STYLE OF MUSIC MIGHT BE?
FELLOWSHIP: The Acts believers met together constantly and shared their meals and enjoyed each other. ARE YOU INVOLVED ON A REGULAR BASIS WITH A SMALL GROUP IN YOUR CHURCH THAT REALLY CARES FOR EACH OTHER?
DISCIPLESHIP: These early Christians were devoted to the apostles' teaching. ARE YOU INVOLVED IN A CHURCH THAT BELIEVES THE BIBLE IS OUR AUTHORITY AND ARE YOU REGULARLY PARTICIPATING WITH A GROUP THAT STUDIES GOD'S WORD?
MINISTRY: The early church people were committed to praying together and meeting the needs of others, even if they had to sell their possessions. ARE YOU GIVING YOUR TIME, TALENTS AND MONEY TO HELP YOUR YOUTH GROUP AND/OR YOUR CHURCH MEET THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE?
EVANGELISM: The news spread about what God was doing in and through this Acts church! More and more people were becoming followers of Jesus and being added to this church! ARE YOU DOING YOUR PART TO HELP YOUR CHURCH MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY? IS YOUR CHURCH SO IN LOVE WITH JESUS THAT IT'S CONTAGIOUS TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU?
Let's be honest about the local church. None are perfect. They never will be because the church is made up of imperfect people like us. Churches are very different in style and size. Some are old and maybe not very exciting. Others are new and sort of struggling. But here's the deal: God uses the local church to build His Kingdom and He sees you as a vital part of your church!