Saving Youth from Church Exodus Not Enough, Says Youth Leader

The defensive youth ministry approach of saving young people from exiting the churches isn't up to speed with one youth leader who sees tens of thousands of teens' lives changed every year.

"To be honest I'm kind of getting sick and tired of the 'let's save the children' approach we have taken in trying to get teenagers to keep their faith after they graduate [from high school]," said Greg Stier, president and founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries.

Stier recently came out of a nine-city "Survive" tour that drew tens of thousands of teens from around the country since November and trained them to share about their faith in Jesus Christ to everyone they knew – starting even with that weekend.

Every year, Dare 2 Share hits major cities not to host an "I love Jesus, how about you" spiritual pep rally, as Stier said, but to raise the bar spiritually for teens to take Jesus Christ and the Great Commission seriously.

"Our goal is not to just keep kids from leaving the church. It is to raise up an army of Christian teenagers who are reaching every teenager in their world with the message and mission of Jesus," he stressed.

At every conference, Stier "double dares" young Christians to take the bold approach of talking to their friends about Jesus and form e-teams (evangelism teams).

"Imagine with me every teenager in America hearing the gospel through another teenager that they know. The Double Dare has started making that dream into a reality."

Still, the mass exodus of teens from the pews is alarming, Stier acknowledges. The Barna Group found that two out of three Christian teens will leave the church after they graduate high school. LifeWay Research showed last year that more than two-thirds of young adults who attend church stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22. More studies are being conducted and resulting in similar statistics, making it the talk of the town in youth ministries across the country.

But Christians have to do more than play defensive, according to Stier.

"Sure I still use the great graduation evacuation statistic (70 percent graduating seniors walk away from the church after high school)," Stier said. "But the Double Dare this year gave us a chance to be offensive and not purely defensive. As one soldier put it, 'Nobody ever won a war by being defensive.'"

Dare 2 Share kicks off its 2008-2009 tour, titled "Invincible," in Washington, D.C., in November.

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