Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Defining Success (part 2)

Thanks for all the comments and email. This is certainly stimulating thought. Clark made an interesting statement in one of the comments:

"[S]uccess isn't how many students you have involved or at your devos, but how many students are living for Jesus 5 years, 10 years, 15 years after they have gone through that particular ministry."

The average Evangelical church in America has a drop-out rate of somewhere between 65-80%. In other words, the vast majority of the kids who grew up in Sunday school with me have ceased their involvement with a local church by the time they're in their mid-20s. When pressed, most say they haven't given up on their faith really -- just traditional faith structures.

And all the "emergents" in the room say...Amen!

However, most concede that they don't really live a very Jesus-like lifestyle. The plain truth is it's hard to live like Jesus and cut ties with the organization Jesus came to establish -- regardless of how bastardized it has become.

All the rest of the people in the room say...Amen!

By the way, people in the Church of Christ who read this whole thing may think that stat doesn't include us because we have a drop-out rate of about 35% -- until those people reach the age when their parents start to die. Then they start to drop like flies. It seems our system of faith development taught us to fear our parents' reactivity. In the long run, Churches of Christ lose just as many as everyone else.

So, what's to be done with all this? How can we stem the tide and keep folks from thinking that faith and involvement in church is just something for children? Could it be related to our definition of success?