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Debunking the Dropout Myth

Timothy Paul Jones, Professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

debunk2"So tell me," I asked, "why do you want to move your church toward a family ministry model?"
The two ministry leaders I'd met with at the coffee shop were sincere, good people. Both were passionate about the gospel and faithful to Scripture. Their church had asked me to help them minister more effectively to families.
"Well," the pastor said, "nine out of 10 kids drop out of church after they graduate. Evidently, what we're doing isn't working."
"Mm-hmm," the children's director agreed. "We just want to do so much better than that."
"Is your church actually losing that many?" I asked.
They looked at each other before shrugging.
"I don't really know," the pastor replied. "We don't see them after they graduate. Sometimes that's because they're involved in another church, I guess."
The children's director continued, "If we had programs to teach parents how to grow their kids spiritually, we could stop the loss."
"I'll do everything I can to help your church," I said. "But first, let's rethink your reasons for considering these changes-because the problem you think is the problem is probably not the problem at all."

Here's why these two ministry leaders-and scores of others like them-need to rethink their motivations: The nine-out-of-10 dropout number isn't true. It was never true, yet many church leaders still believe it. Take a trip with me to the origins of this statistic and why it's long past time to lay this lie to rest.

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