Sadly, statistics and studies show, in general, that 90% of youth who grow up or attend church will leave the church (backslide). (For the purpose of this article, we will also include “new converts” in the category of “youth” because they are “young in Christ” and the concepts apply.) This is true even of youth who come to Sunday School and “Spirit-filled church” every Sunday, Bible Study every Wednesday, youth service every Friday, and who are involved in great ministries such as music, youth, and even teaching and preaching. This is truly heart-breaking!
However, what if we could take that statistic and flip it on its head? There is a way to give youth a 90% likelihood of living for God and a 10% chance of walking away.
Let’s look at the questions and answers below. Have you ever seen something like this before? This is “catechism”. Catechism is “a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.” It is a program used by the Catholic church (who are very successful in growth and member retention) to educate its members in the Catholic faith and doctrine. This is a sample lesson of one of HUNDREDS of these type of lessons. This one is from “Old Testament History for Beginners, Book 1, Lesson 1: Creation (Genesis 1).
- What does the first verse of the Bible teach us?
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Gen. 1:1
- In how many days did God create all things?
God created all things in six days.
- What did God create on the first day?
God created the earth, and also the light.
- What did God create on the second day?
God created the firmament, or, the sky.
- What did God make on the the third day?
God made dry land, the trees and the plants.
- What did God create on the fourth day?
The sun, the moon, and the stars.
- What did God make on the fifth day?
God made the fish and the birds.
- What did God form on the sixth day?
God formed the animals and man.
- Did God create a helper for Adam?
Yes, God created Eve while Adam slept.
- Where did God place Adam and Eve?
In paradise, which was a picture of heaven.
“No problem” you may say. “My children go to church every time the doors are open AND I take my kids to youth service and Sunday School.” That’s great…but 90% of them are still backsliding. WHY? Because they are NOT memorizing the Word and being TESTED on it. Only 1 hour a week on a Sunday morning being taught a lesson or a few hours on a Friday night (even with a dynamic youth leader) is not enough.
Imagine if that’s how you went to school – taking one or two classes a week for a few hours. No matter how good the teacher – you would never graduate. Sunday School, youth service and great church are important but they are not enough.
There is only one program that is having high success rates of retention. Over a period of 20 years, we tracked youth who went through a Scripture Memorization program similar to Catholic Catechism and attended it for at least 3 consecutive years. 20 years later, 90% of the youth who went through it for a minimum of 3 consecutive years were still living for God. And in one study, of the remaining 10% that backslid, 90% of them came back to the church. However, 90% of those who only attended the program for around a year or who did not attend left the church (backslid)
So the AWESOME news is we have discovered a Proven Retention System for our youth and new converts! Who wouldn’t agree that EVERY SINGLE ONE of our youth and new converts should go through a program like this? This should be REQUIRED.
The purpose of these Scripture Memorization lessons with short, fun devotionals and quizzes is to obey the Scriptural mandate that we have to teach the Word “diligently unto our children”.
Yes it takes work and time and yes it is hard. But what is harder is living with the fact that our children, youth and new converts are leaving the church and not returning. Let’s choose our “hard”. Our youth NEED a powerful, life-changing, proven system that puts God’s Word in their mind and heart, so they will not decide to go out on their own and do whatever they want. They must “receive a love of the truth that they might be saved.”
It’s time to teach our children beautiful Scriptures like these:
“9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:9-11)
Why are we putting so much emphasis on involvement in music ministry, youth ministry, secular education, etc, when the only ministry with a high retention success rate for our youth, children and new converts are those teaching the Word and Scripture Memorization?
20 YEAR SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION STUDY BELOW:
These are all people I personally knew and/or grew up with. Study done by Richard Smith. This is an opinion study.