The church is seeing a crisis take place. Anywhere from 40-60% of high school students who have been actively involved in a youth group for at least 1 year while in high school are leaving the church, and in some cases walking out on their faith, after they graduate.
The implications here are many, but the primary reason behind this crisis is that many students have not been rooted and built up (Colossians 2:7) in the Word of God. They have not been discipled and so they have not come to own their own faith. And so they are subconsciously deciding to leave the facade of church and faith behind.
The dropout crisis is a result of students not being consistently engaged in the whole Word of God while in youth group. Sure, they have experienced dynamic services, participated in top of the live events and activities, and maybe have even been cared for personally, but they have not been immersed week in and week out in the Word of God through faithful Bible teaching.
The inferior teaching that many of our students are receiving comes from teaching that is rooted in the wit of the leader, the misinterpretation and application of Scripture and the laziness of youth leaders. We have allowed all of the “stuff” of ministry (programs, events/activities/trips, relationships, pastoral care, etc) to overshadow our most important responsibility: the ministry of the Word. We spend hours building relationships but only minutes preparing Bible lessons. We have made replying to Facebook messages more of a priority than preparing to engage students in the Word of God.
Faithful Bible teaching is that which begins, continues, and ends in Scripture. It is teaching that speaks from the original content and context of Scripture, draws its main points from the text, bridges the gap from the Bible world to postmodern world by mining timeless truths and principles, and without compromising the text applies these truths and principles to the everyday lives of students.
This is expository Bible teaching and it is vital for transformational student ministries. This kind of Bible teaching is not easy. It takes time, planning, study, contemplation, preparation, and consistency. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it because we faithfully handle the Word of truth. We allow God through His Word to transform the lives of students. We direct students to own their faith; that is, they experience, relate, and respond to God personally rather than through and inherited belief system.
It is time for the student ministries to stop relying on the charm of charismatic leaders or the quality of programs and activities or the draw of facilities and give-a-ways. It is time for student ministries to embrace or most important responsibilities: the faithful handling of the Word of God.