by Thom S. Rainer and Sam S. Rainer
Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2008. Harcover, 259 pp.

One of the great challenges facing church leaders today is the tsunami of young people exiting the doors of our churches. In this important book, the Rainers (father and son) help us understand why this is happening and how we should respond.
It’s hard to deal with challenges until we really understand them, but sometimes defining reality is brutal. For example, it is frightening to realize that “More than two-thirds of churchgoing young adults drop out between the ages of 18 and 22.” That’s not a problem; that’s a catastrophe.
Why are they leaving? The abundance of data the Rainers provide adds up to one thing: they no longer see the church as essential to their lives. The key, then, is to help them see church as essential to their lives, particularly in those teen years as they are approaching independence. The authors offer valuable insights for doing exactly that and provide useful illustrations from congregations that have become an “essential church” in the lives of their own young people.
Of particular interest to Preaching readers is the data that shows the importance of the pastor in helping young people feel connected to a church. The Rainers note that, “Our data clearly shows that the better a pastor connects with the students of the church through his sermons, the more likely they are to stay in the church.” That will involve intentionally reaching out to those age groups in a way that helps them engage with biblical truth.
This is an important book that’s likely to change the way you think about your ministry to emerging generations.

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