Amanda Wing has captured the heart of my family. You see, Amanda is my niece. I had not seen her for years but she has recently become a significant part of our lives. This week we are celebrating with her as she is moving to Dalton State College to begin her freshman year.
Christian leaders understand this will be a pivotal time in her spiritual life. Matt Friedman states that 88% of teens from Christian homes leave the church when they graduate from high school. Lillion Kwan adds that “denomination and youth workers have estimated that between 65-94% of their high school students stop attending church after they graduate”.
The church has a crisis in this area.
Since our heart is attached to Amanda’s hopes and dreams, I asked her what she is primarily focusing on as she goes off to school. These are great insights for us as church leaders.
- Freedom – She is excited about making her own decisions but knows she needs to balance her freedom with….
- Responsibility – She is concerned about the “pace” of college life. She knows she needs to remember her classes, papers, and “don’t stay out to 5:00 AM”. *Personal note – I’m glad to hear that!!!
- Social Aspect – This does not include boys. She is excited about meeting new people, her roommate, and people who are not from her small town.
- Boys – Of course, she is aware of boys but once again, not the ones from her town! She is not looking for a boyfriend but if one comes along he needs to be a strong Christian and “not a lazy bum”.
- School – Pay Now, Play Later is her motto. She is excited, nervous, and just generally ready to begin.
- Church – Amanda has identified three on-campus ministries, knows when they meet, and will be attending. Regarding weekend services, she is coming home on the weekends so she can continue attending church with the Dodds!!!
Additional questions I asked:
What about the parties? Amanda shared that she partied her senior year in high school and knows what not to do. Experience was her teacher in this area and she knows this type of lifestyle gets old quickly. Interestingly, she knows that many will have to learn this lesson on their own.
The influence of MTV? Amanda states MTV is the #1 influence on teens and the statistics support her claim. Her favorite show was Teen Mom. It was fascinating to me that she stated you see pregnant girls in school but no one talks about it. MTV addresses the issues they are facing and allows them to see everyone’s life. *Note – church leaders, we need to learn from this! MTV has developed and is preaching a type of doctrine they listen to.
Stability and Chaos – Amanda states many teenagers take part in chaos because they know they can come home to stability. Here were my takeaways from this comment – First, when the home life becomes chaos, kids have nowhere to go and will begin to search anywhere for acceptance and stability. Second, even though they don’t realize it, teens crave boundaries at home and actually thrive in that type of environment.
I came away from my conversation with Amanda extremely impressed with her maturity. We are so proud of her and she is going to do great at college.
Is your church reaching and retaining students like Amanda and her friends? If not, what did you learn from her comments?
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