Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Thom Rainer and his son Sam have written a landmark book on why so many teenagers and young adults are dropping out of church. Their book is called Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts. This is one of those books every church member should read if we are interested in trying to reach the emerging the generation and keep young adults in church.

I'll probably do several blogs from the book. I'm not finished reading it yet; but I'm telling you it is loaded with eye openers. Here is the disheartening fact that serves as the basis for the Rainers' book: 70 percent of churchgoing young adults drop out of church between the ages of 18 and 22.

What are the main reasons they are dropping out. Here are the top ten.

  • Simply wanted a break from church

  • Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical

  • Moved to college and stopped attending

  • Work responsibilities prevented them from attending

  • Moved too far away from the church to continue attending

  • Became too busy thought still wanted to attend

  • Didn't feel connected to people in the church

  • Disagreed with the church's stance on political or soical issues

  • Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church

  • Was only going to church to please others

In a capsule, all these reasons funnel into one primary issue: they did not see the church as essential to their lives. Hence, the title--The Essential Church. Can the trend be stopped? The answer is yes. Some churches have been successful keeping young adults engaged. The key question that must be answered is: How can the church become essential to this emerging population? More to come later.

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Last Sunday we had our first deacons meeting for 2009. I'm excited about the group God has placed in this very important role. This group represents the largest body of deacons ever at Chapin Baptist. Eleven of the fifteen serving their first year are brand new deacons. We had an ordination service for them on the evening of January 4.

Standing before these men and their wives last Sunday, I shared portions of the story of Esther with them. In light of the tough transitions our church went through last year, I asked them, "Could it be that God has placed them in this strategic position for 'such a time as this'?" I believe God has. This large group represents long-time members and newer members. It respresents senior adult members and twenty-something members.

I have a personal sense of pride in that my son Kevin was ordained and is now serving on the deacon body. I was extremely proud as we all stood at the conclusion of the meeting and asked for anyone to voice a prayer who felt led to do so. Kevin, the youngest guy in the group, in the middle of these seasoned men of God, voiced a prayer that obviously came straight from his heart. Yes, I'm a proud dad.

I sense in this group a sincere desire to grow deeper in their faith and to become genuine servant leaders for Chapin Baptist. They need your prayers. I need your prayers as I seek to lead them to reach their God-given potential.

Who knows? Several years down the road, we may look back and agree that God used these men to accomplish significant things for the kingdom. Perhaps God has placed them in this place of service for such a time as this.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."