Please don’t leave!
Think you might stop going to church after you've finished school? We'd love you to reconsider.
The statistics are scary, the final outcome is worse. As many as 60% of students who leave for college, do not return to church. In the Amish community they call it Rumspringa (when kids turn 16 they are given the freedom to go and do whatever they want, they then choose if and when they come back). Why is it that young church goers often choose to not come back to church?
Church is not a TV
Often times students will grow up in the church, faithfully going each week, but never really getting involved. They will show up to church, watch and leave. Churches often cater to this idea by saying students are too young to volunteer, to lead or to make decisions involving ministry. Students often refrain from getting involved by saying they are too busy. While some students can have hectic schedules, how you react now is usually a sign of things to come. If church is not a priority now, why would it be in the future?
Make it Personal
Students can often slip through church, while being faithful attenders but never really being held accountable. Students who may attend every event, service and gathering are likely to not attend church later on in life if they did not have someone to hold them accountable, love them and teach them. Students should have that perspective as well, seeking a relationship of someone they trust. Someone who will invest in them, teach them and not be afraid to have difficult, needed conversations. Why not find an older person at church and ask them to help you be accountable?
A New Home
Students arrive at college, and start to see new places, people, things and experiences. It can be difficult to manage all the newness of things. If you are moving to attend college, you should get involved in a new church as soon as possible. A church can actually act as a tour guide for your new community. The church will be full of people who know the area and want the best for you. Many students have never picked out a church before and do not know what they want in a church. The best question to ask when you enter a new church is how could God use me here?
Students are often experiencing new freedoms they have not had on a regular basis - no curfews, no bed times, and no one to monitor your decisions.
College students will be put in situations where they can choose their own outcomes. Many times, the decisions new college students make, and the people they associate with in college, can define their future identity (for example, if they stop going to church, and then get heavily involved in the party scene, they may start thinking of themselves more as a 'partier', than a Christian).
Students like this find a new identity and a group of people who accept them for it. Their identity as a follower of Jesus is at risk as they start defining themselves by other things.
The real reason why students stop going to church is that they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus that is built to last. Many times, students use Jesus on a 'need to know' basis - praying when things get rough, and only worshipping when everyone else is. If a student has not prepared themselves for a relationship with longevity in mind, then it will not last.
If you are about to head to college, the question to ask is not just 'will I stop going to church?', but rather 'Is my relationship with Jesus secure, and will it last through college?'. If you can't confidently answer 'yes' to that question, then tell a youth leader or older Christian, and ask them to help. And don't stop going to church.