Christian youth are leaving the church at an alarming rate after high school. Different organizations have done studies to prove this fact. Some studies say 3 out of 4 (75%) Christian teens walk away from the church after they leave home, while others say 88% of evangelical children leave the church after high school. No matter what research you read, the message is loud and clear – Christian teens are leaving the church at an alarming rate after high school.
As I begin to process this incredibly tough information, I keep asking myself this question: HOW DO SPORTS TEAMS SUCCEED WHERE THE CHURCH OFTEN FAILS?
You see, many people are completely committed and sold out to certain professional or college sports teams by the time they leave high school. Some are die hard fans to a team because their parents ingrained that inside of them from birth. Some maybe are sold out of a team because of the area of the country they live in or the college they go to. Others are committed to a team because of a cherished childhood memory or experience.
For whatever the reason, people are sold out and committed to their sports teams and will not dare to even consider changing. They will continue to wear the tshirts, buy the tickets, and spend the time to be a true fan. To ask them to change that would be considered blasphemy.
As a full-time student pastor for the past 5+ years, I have seen a lot of students graduate from my youth group and leave the church. It breaks my heart. However, those same students who leave the church are just as committed (if not more committed) to their favorite professional or college sports teams. People seem more likely to drop their faith and identity in Christ rather than their willingness to drop their identity as a Boston Red Sox, Dallas Cowboys, or University of Oklahoma fan.
Why? Why would someone be more willing to drop their faith than their allegiance to a sports team? Why is the church loosing the same teenagers that are loyal, committed, and sold out to their favorite sports team?
How do sports teams succeed where the church often fails?