Most church leaders—especially those in family ministries—would say they pour a great deal of time, energy, and resources into fostering a life-long faith in the next generation. The average student pastor invests four, five, sometimes six or seven years into students planning weekly programming, going on retreats, investing in small group leaders, and so much more. Then when their time is up, those students graduate and move on. And all too often, they not only move on from the student ministry but the church as well.

Today on episode 68 of The Think Orange Podcast, we’ll listen in on a conversation between Jared Herd and Chuck Bomar as they discuss six reasons The Barna Group has unearthed as to why high school graduates leave the church. Then Ashley interviews Dr. Steven Argue, author of 18 Plus: Parenting Your Emerging Adult, on ways that parents and the church can remain active in the lives of students post-graduation. We’ll discover that when it comes to 18 to 29-year-olds, empathy and a sincere, “Tell me more” can go a long way in reaching the next generation.

Topic Timeline 

Dave introduces today’s guests (2:09)

Conversation between Jared Herd and Chuck Bomar (7:41)

Six reasons Barna unearthed on why high school graduates leave the church (8:16)

  • They see the church as having overprotective environments (8:18)
  • They see the church as antagonistic to science (10:06)
  • They see the church as shallow (12:53)
  • They see the church’s stance on sexuality as simplistic or judgmental (14:46)
  • They see the church and Christianity as exclusive (18:28)
  • They see the church as unfriendly to those who doubt (21:32)

Ashley’s interview with Dr. Steven Argue (22:25)

Steven’s definitions of “young adult” and “emerging adult” (22:47)

How the world is changing for emerging adults today versus previous generations (24:45)

“Tell me more” is a better phrase than, “When I was your age . . . ” (26:34)

When students turn 18, a DTR takes place and they begin to ask the church, “Who are we together?” (27:43)

What Steven has seen work in ministering to emerging adults (34:46)

If we’re serious about taking an empathetic posture, it will cost us something (41:16)

The role of a parent in the emerging adult (18–29) phase (44:36)

Resources on emerging adults for parents and ministry leaders (49:48)

  • The Phase Project
  • 18 Plus: Parenting Your Emerging Adult

Dave and Kevin’s final thoughts (53:51)