The stats are all over the place.  Few teens make the shift from attending church in middle school to high school.  Fewer still after they graduate.  Some will come back when they have kids, but the best estimates are that barely 25% of the US population attends church.  It’s worse in New England.

Is the Gospel not relevant any more?  Or is it the way we present it?

I sat in a sermon last week where the preacher talked for 30 minutes about the esoteric proofs from Hebrew for a trinitarian God – one who is three.  He thumbed through the Bible and we listened. There had been powerpoint for the music, but during the sermon, the screen was blank.  (I nodded off at least once.)

Tonite, I watched an info video on using digital in the classroom to engage students.  The meta preview asks “Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as “Digital Learners”, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?”

One student is quoted saying “we have learned to play school.  We study the right facts the night before the tests so we can make a passing grade and thus become a successful student.”  Do we play at church, hoping for a chance to cram for God’s final exam when we get old?

Are we engaging them?  One researcher quoted in the video says the average student only gets to ask one question every 10 hours.

By contrast, by the time they finish college, they will have written and received 200,000 text messages.  Someone is engaging them.

As pastors and church leaders, we need to take to heart the call to action, and give our people the 3 Rs:

Rigor – give them meat.  We expect excellence in our athletes, our scholars.  Why not our parishioners?  My friend was right to talk theology in the sermon, but we needed multi-media to truly engage us.

Relevance – The National Center for Educational Statistics says only 39% of the 50% of the tudents that graduate US High Schools think that what they learn in school will have any usefulness in their life.  What’s the number for what you teach in church?  Listen to what matters in their lives, and teach them how to get through the week with advice from Scripture.

Relationships – The internet social networking (MySpace, Facebook, instant messaging) and cell phone / texting is all about relationships.  People are hungry for relationship.  What better place than in church?  Stop this superficial “check the square and get the ribbon” mentality.

We need to engage with the WWW:  Whatever, Whenever, Wherever

I commend the video to you: