NETology part 1: Strong NET supports Strong Faith
By Dan & Suzie Potter
Statistics reveal to us some alarming facts about the Next Generation:
HALF of the world is under the age of 25 (United Nations)
1 in 4 youth claim to have NO religion (Pew Research)
59% of Christian youth disconnect from church after age 15 (Barna Research)
70% of Christian youth will leave the church by age 25 (Lifeway Research)
Less than half of those who leave are expected to return to the church (Barna Research)
How does that make you feel?
We have seen these staggering statistics first hand in every country we visit. Church leaders and parents, in tears, have asked, “What did I do wrong?” Over ten years ago, we started to ask young people several questions to help discover the reason WHY.
Through our informal research around the world, with hundreds of young people who continued in their faith or walked away, we discovered a secret. Young people who remained faithful to Jesus after turning 25 years old had two unique friendships in common, and those who left the faith were always missing one or both of these friendships.
If a young person has:
- Friendships with a few other young people (Peers) with whom they share common beliefs and a sense of belonging, and
- Friendships with at least one older Christian adult in whom they find acceptance and support . . . they continued in their faith.
We looked at various dynamics that could affect a young person’s faith: parenting, church, society, culture, information and relationships, but the only common thread in long-term faith was their “NET”.
The “NET” is a young person’s small network of same age peers and adult friends, who together surround, support and regularly re-launch them towards a life authentically lived for Jesus.
A young person needs a personal friendship with Jesus supported by a community friendship with Jesus if they are to successfully move forward in their faith. A Strong NET supports Strong Faith.
In 2007, as parents of two teen-aged boys, we committed with two other local families, to provide a “NET” for all of our teenagers. Three families with 7 teens and pre-teens, focused on helping each son or daughter create their “NET”. Every parent became significant in the life of one or more of the other teens. Now 10 years later, it is a privilege to report that all 7 of these young people are authentically living for Jesus. All have served in missions, all have or are pursuing godly spouses, and all have an impact on their generation.
We report this to encourage you that the above alarming statistics do not have to be true in the lives of the young people who live in your home or are a part of your life and ministry.
Over the next month we will look deep into the “NET” in this “NETology” series. We want to help you Strengthen your Next Generation IMPACT and we believe that begins when you and your young people are building a Strong “NET”!
Written by Dan & Suzie Potter