The transition from children's ministry to student ministries is largely hitch-free, but those of us who play on the older end of the spectrum (the high school portion of student ministries, college ministry, college/young adult ministry, Gen-X ministry, etc) are encountering the problem of "the gap" more and more frequently.
If you haven't seen it already, look up the research on the church drop-out rate for those graduating from high school. It is alarming.
How do we fix this? Can we?
I have a hard time believing the fix is for the post-student ministry to mimic the approach and methodology of student ministry, unless of course the student ministry of a church is community and discipleship oriented. But in most churches, the student ministry is not.
One of the things I talked to my church about when Element was in its formative stages was my conviction that it should not be a "13th grade" ministry, just another stop for students on their way out of the life of the church. We wanted to focus on discipleship and the building of community, something college students and young adults are in desperate need of.
Yet if the value for those things hasn't been cultivated in younger believers at earlier stages in the life of the church, they will likely not suddenly be attracted to those values when graduating from high school. At the same time, if we just give them the values that have been cultivated in them, we will only forestall their exodus and end up losing them anyway.
How do we bridge the gaps? My focus, for practical and experiential reasons, is on the transition from student ministry to college/young adult ministry, but I think the problems are faced in any church approach to ministering to those moving between "life stages."
How do we transition churchgoers from one sort or form of ministry community into another when the previous and future ministry communities typically differ in challenges, values, and spans of time?
I have my thoughts. What are yours?
The Leadership Conundrum series is the place for you seasoned leaders, pastors, and ministry directors to weigh in with your advice and tips and practical ideology!
Previous entries in this series:
Leadership Conundrum: Rescuing the Trampled On
Leadership Conundrum: Challenging Apathy