According to a research done by the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), about 50% of Christian students drift away from their faith after graduating from high school.
To better understand the dynamics of Christian youth in college, FYI followed 500 high school seniors during their first three years in college as part of FYI’s College Transition Project. As a result, FYI identified relationships and best practices in youth ministries, churches, and families that can help the Christian youth stand fast in their faith through college and beyond.
Here’s what FYI recommends in their strategy which they call Sticky Faith:
1. Intergenerational Relationship: FYI advises to mentor a youth with at least five adults or a 5:1 ratio which will greatly benefit the youth. Overcome the generational gap between the youth and adults in the church by dwelling on the common ground instead of differences.
2. Whole Gospel: Young people have trouble applying the faith to many aspects in their lives, resulting in an on/off switch depending on where they are or who they are with. It’s like a jacket they wear inside the church and take off when in campus. They need a more robust understanding of the Gospel and how it is relevant to all aspects of living.
3. Partnerships with families: FYI research shows that parents are the most important influencers when it comes to faith in the youth. Parents need to be empowered on how to nurture faith in the children.
4. A safe place for doubt: FYI says, “Doubt is not toxic to faith, silence is. Young people want conversations in response to their hardest questions, not just answers.” Employ tools and training to cultivate discussions and strengthen the faith of everyone involved.
FYI’s research reveals a child is never too young, or a youth is never too old, to start developing a faith that grows and lasts a lifetime. But Christian families and churches have to carry out interventions in this regard, and the time to act is now. The youth, when made to understand the beauty and grace of the Gospel, will be flocking toward Christianity, not away from it.