Archives For After High School

I am personally BURDENED for students to be launched around the world after high school graduation so that…

1. They experience a desire for the nations to know God AND…
2. Their walk with God during that year can be unhindered with the ability to reveal their divine purpose in the Kingdom of God.

I support the vision of and encourage you or your students to explore the possibility. I’ve got more to say here in this video.

See what students say about Global Year

Feel free to contact me if you have questions or visit


Been doing quite a bit of research this week on students leaving the church after high school.  I’ve read more research and statistics than I can bear, and I’m certain I’ve at least tightened my grip on the subject. Above all else, it’s caused me to reflect on what I’m doing (and more importantly, what I’m not doing) to help students prevent bailout.

A couple observations:
1. Every research is different with different results and reasons for students leaving
2. Some research is clearly skewed to reflect the researchers particular area of expertise
3. Students are leaving
4. It’s not as bad as some make it out to be
5. Nearly 50% return to the church

Through quite a bit of research and reading, I’ve narrowed my thoughts to 3 principles for helping students maintain their faith after high school. I’m sure there are more. These are mine.

1. Practice Biblical Parenting

Research says less than 1 in 20 church going families have some sort of spiritual connection with each other outside of church. I see this and live within it every single week.

Think About It: Lack of biblical parenting is the #1 reason for the exodus. Parents must be equipped. Parents: how are you doing in the home? Youth Pastors: what are you doing to train parents?

2. Youth Ministry Must Grow Up

MTV has a dynamic and cutting edge four-fold strategy for staying abreast and relevant. In contrast however, most youth pastors never contemplate what they are teaching, why they are teaching, and how they are teaching students. We must consciously embrace the thought of not just giving students answers but rather appetites. We must teach doctrine, apologetics, worldview, how to share and defend the faith, and cults and world religions.

Think About It: Can your students articulate the faith? Research says they can’t. Survey yours in the near future…but be prepared to be shocked. You and your students can take a free worldview test here.

3. Mentors and Messages

Sermons and bible studies will rarely be remembered (yes, they’re still vitally important). Relationships, however, will have enduring impact. Research overwhelmingly is confident in the fact that those who last beyond the pomp and circumstance have had significant spiritual relationships through high school.

Think About It: Parents: the youth pastor cannot be the answer to every student’s needs. Youth volunteers: the youth pastor cannot be the answer to every student’s needs. Youth Pastor: do you have a plan to equip your people to mentor students?

A simple formula combining biblical parenting, significant spiritual relationships, and a well thought out teaching emphasis may not slam the doors shut, but it will absolutely make a dent in preventing the exodus.

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Think About It

Matt Lawson —  February 23, 2010 — 1 Comment

Doing some research today. Came across a few interesting facts from Barna:

Barna has found that a person’s worldview is primarily shaped and firmly in place by age 13
Observation: High school is well too late to be teaching students about doctrine/theology

Less than 1 in 200 adults aged 18 to 23 have a biblical worldview, compared to about 1 in 9 older adults
Observation: If this generation is not reached, then what happens to the next?

Love this Tweet from Rick Warren last week
To serve the Kingdom of God you MUST care about the next generation-young adults,students & children ministries. Matt18:23 10:54 PM Feb 17th via web

This week I’ve been doing some work for this conference  coming up in March.  At the same conference last year, I polled student pastors and leaders about their needs.  #1 for Youth Pastors was how to train adult leaders. #2 for Youth Pastors was student leadership training. 

Another topic that surfaced concerned students leaving their faith after high school and what to do about it.  Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about the 90% rule. I’m ready for more responses and less questions.  Unfortunately, I’m not offering many of the latter here.  Just reporting what some of the 90% are saying.

Rest assured, this post has more questions than answers about this topic.  In fact, the person with the answers will likely hit this list. 

Until then, we have done some of our own research (probably not very scientific…but it was done at the ground level with current or recent college students) to try to understand what are some of the questions that are unanswered when students leave high school.

We polled 106 current or recent college students with a list of 72 topics that our team compiled.  We asked them to “please check the top 15 topics that you think are the most relevant to you today or in your past that you wished you had learned about before going off to college or even now.”

Here are the top 30 responses, starting with the topic receiving the most response:

 1 Discerning God’s will for our lives
 2 Sexual Temptation
 3 Dating Principles—purity is a direction not a line
 4 How to come back to God from stumbling in your walk—how to restore your friend and be restored yourself
 5 The Word of God– How to defend the Word of God without using the Bible
 6 Finding Your Mate
 7 How to spend our time wisely
 8 Being a Man/Woman Of God
 9 Sharing the gospel
 10 Spiritual warfare
 11 How to be a Christian in a Secular World/School
 12 Staying Faithful
 13 True Worship
 14 How to be a Christian in the workplace
 15 How to treat a girl/guy—in purity
 16 Preparing for marriage
 17 Wisdom
 18 When friends go wild
 19 The changing of your relationship with your family/parents and still honor your parents
 20 How to get through rough times in life—Job etc—does God still care about me when I am being abused and the world is crumbling around me—nothing good ever happens to me—dealing with abuse—is God still there when it seems as if he is not listening to me in my troubles/abuse—does he even love me—is he there??
 21 Leadership—girls specific—guy specific
 22 Character
 23 Making priorities
 24 How to maintain your walk in a secular setting
 25 Friendship
 26 Being humble
 27 Keeping the Word of God alive-Having a passion for Christ at college
 28 How to defend our faith—Christ’s death, burial, resurrection
 29 Being teachable—But not persuaded
 30 How to deal with people

Of these top 30, they could be grouped into the following themes: relationships with the opposite sex, managing freedom/time, understanding my faith, my faith in a secular world.

With these in mind, here’s what we are doing about it (yes, we’ve been tracking graduates for 2 years now). 

  • We teach doctrine, basics of the faith, basics of other faiths, and how to defend your faith
  • We address opposite sex relationships and recommend a DVD series for parents and students as a must have
  • We give student leaders success/fail leadership opportunities
  • We persuade students to be involved in the lives of lost
  • We demand more, not less. They’re young adults, not adolescents
  • We try to provide an outlet to express doubts, concerns, and questions

What are your thoughts?  What should student ministries be doing to prevent the Exodus?