Take this quick survey:
These are big questions…because they address the future AND CURRENT state of the Church and of Christianity in the US.

My guess is that you answered “yes” to at least one, if not ALL of the questions above. And current statistics back up your responses.

Pinetops Foundation Research released a study recently stating that less than 50% of young people in the US identify as Christian. AND, only 8% of those who do identify as Christian say that they follow or practice ANY Christian habits (pray, read the Bible, attend church regularly, etc.). In another study, 45% of American teenagers shared that they believe that many religions “may be true,” while 23% believe that there is little to no truth in ANY religion. It is estimated that 35-50 million young people will leave the Church AND THEIR FAITH by 2050.

In 2021, Movement DFW and the Arbor Research Firm conducted a major study in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to answer the question: “Why are DFW youth leaving the Church?” For the study, they interviewed almost 2,000 young people in the DFW area who had “left” the church. What they discovered was that a majority of all those interviewed cited three reasons. They see the church as IRRELEVANT, UNLOVING, and INAUTHENTIC. The bottom line: our churches are losing connection with Gen Z.
Okay, but what about the NEXT generation? What do they look like?
Generation Alpha is currently beginning to enter our churches at the middle school level. They are the children born from 2010 to 2025. Sociologists are describing them as the most “damaged” generation in our lifetime. They have extremely low attention spans, and their emotional IQ is very concerning. They currently average the youngest addiction to pornography of any generation in history. They are lagging behind in social formation, critical thinking skills, and their ability to develop practical skills and hands-on competencies. They feel isolated and overwhelmed. And they are being parented by a very progressive society, resulting in their “blurred-line generation” nickname. For these kids, the lines are blurred regarding gender, home/work life, public/private life, and even what one considers to be “truth.” They are a confused generation, being taught that marriage is unnecessary, and gender is a choice.
Who is or ISN’T stepping into this moment?
Before we go any farther, it is important to state that there are some churches in the US who have THRIVING youth ministries. There are some parachurch organizations in the US who are seeing God use them in TRULY SIGNIFICANT ways. There are youth pastors and parents and volunteers around the country who are DISCIPLING the younger generation and seeing students find a SAVING FAITH in Jesus Christ. 

But unfortunately, the number of trained youth leaders stepping into the lives of the younger generation is lower than we have seen in decades.  Our country is facing a significant youth pastor shortage, and the reasons are numerous. Based on personal experience, intensive research in this subject, and numerous discussions with friends and professionals from all over the country in both academia and church work, I have listed six issues that I see consistently rise to the top:

1. Casting a vision from the pulpit about vocational ministry has decreased over the years.

2. A higher value is being placed on church planters, weekend service “producers,” teaching pastors, family pastors, etc., and therefore, young leaders are moving into those roles within the Church.

3. Salaries are following what is “valued” within the Church (see #2).

4. The probability of needing to address issues of gender identity and same sex attraction are causing young leaders to steer clear of those challenges altogether and choose other positions within the Church.

5. There is a reduction in the overall number of staff among US denominations who train young leaders in youth ministry AND a significant decrease in the number of young adults stepping into degrees at the college or seminary level.

6. An overall pastor shortage has caused many young leaders to bypass other church positions altogether and move directly into senior pastor positions.
What do we do about it?
At a recent denominational convention, we created a sign for our Reach Out booth that simply read: “EFFECTIVE YOUTH MINISTRY DOESN’T BEGIN WITH YOUR NEXT HIRE.”

We believe that to be true. We believe that a healthy paradigm of youth ministry is critical for a church. This is true regardless of whether a church’s youth ministry is led by a seasoned professional, a volunteer, a team of parents, or a young adult who recently graduated from high school or college.
Our paradigm of youth leader training began almost 50 years ago in the leader “tracks” of the Super Summer camps in Texas and Georgia. Over the years, the principles from those tracks have been time tested, and they are currently used worldwide by more youth leaders than ever before. 

During the convention last week, we launched a new resource we are excited to share with the US! Churches and youth leaders can receive our resources and training through an updated, digital platform that also provides access to a thriving community of like-minded youth ministry leaders, volunteers, and professionals.

  • Mentoring
  • Friendship
  • Accountability and
  • Coaching...

...are now ALL available within the Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry Online community! You can find out more about this opportunity by clicking this LINK.
Whether you are in a megachurch or a house church, having a healthy paradigm or “operating system” for reaching the younger generation is mission critical. Unfortunately, in church ministry we quickly begin to add on a variety of events and programming, without a vision for where we are going and for what is most important. This latest resource provides access to a wealth of experience, and a way to strategically create Action Plans for both personal life and ministry. If you are a youth pastor, pastor, church leader, parent, grandparent, or volunteer, this resource is for you!
11th and 12th Graders On Fire in Belize
One final note: I just returned THIS WEEK from leading twenty-six 11th and 12th graders on a mission trip to Belize where I watched these students love unconditionally, serve others, share the Gospel unashamedly, and wrestle through big-time questions regarding what God may be leading them to do as they step toward their next phase of life. I was left with a feeling of great optimism, and I was reminded once again of what God does in the hearts of young people who are fully abandoned to Him. This generation is worth fighting forThey are worth training for. They are worth praying forThey are worth partnering with. They are NOT just the Church of tomorrow. They are the church of TODAY
Will you partner with us NOW as we resource churches in the US and around the world to SERVE THIS GENERATION WELL?
If you would like to become a financial partner today, you can click here. 
We invite you to pray for Reach Out in specific ways by scrolling down to our monthly prayer requests or you can print them below.
Jesus is Lord,
Randy Riggins, President
Reach Out Youth Solutions