Like most mainline churches, the ELCA is having trouble keeping its young people in church. How can we reverse this trend?
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Roland Martinson, professor of children, youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., found that approximately 10 percent of young people stay engaged in the faith community. His research suggests that this group shares some defining characteristics:
• Faith is deeply embedded in their family, family identity and lifestyle.
• Three adult Christian mentors, such as coaches or employers, play[ed] important roles in their lives.
• They have engaged in three or more months of service in the name of Christ, such as working as a mission volunteer or camp counselor.
• They believe their church is “cool,” which they define in terms of quality relationships, interesting preaching that tackles key questions, engaging music, worship, and a feeling that everyone is welcome and valued.
• They believe they’ve been involved in some of the best ministry after confirmation, in high school or college.
• From the age of 10, their leadership has been invited by the church in many ways, such as playing the piano at events.
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