In the current issue of Group Magazine Tom Carpenter, a Senior at Bethel College, takes a crack at finding the truth behind the much hyped youth ministry drop-out statistic. You've probably heard different variations of it, but the popular opinion is that a shockingly high percentage of High School kids drop out of church after they graduate. Tom used the 88% drop out statistic as his starting point for the article. He traces the origins of this statistic back to the Southern Baptist Convention's Council on Family Life which released a 2002 report that found roughly 88 percent of evangelical young people leave the church after they graduate from high school. Tom states, "That number is not only shocking and upsetting, but my analysis of its substance shows it's also false." He then spends the next two pages doing a pretty good job of building a case for why, in his estimate, the actual drop out rate is closer to 40%.
I've never been a huge stats follower. They always seem to get inflated, deflated, twisted or tweaked to prove some body's point (look at the current state of the global warming debate as an example). Because of that I've never really bought into the hype around the various drop-out stats that have been passed around as fact lately. So, I'm not convinced this article puts the issue to rest, but I do think it's good to see a thoughtful response to a really important youth ministry issue.
I'm not sure if Group makes back issue articles available later, but if they do this would be worth reading when available. Heck, if you don't subscribe to Group Magazine you really need to. It's a valuable ministry resource that all youth workers should have sitting on their desk.