Recent studies conducted by LifeWay Research (2007) and the Barna Group (2006) found that between 60% and 70% of young adults who attend church as teenagers disengage from the church when they reach the ages of 18 to 22. Although many of these young adults eventually return to church, the majority (approximately 80%) of twenty-somethings are not active churchgoers.
These sad and alarming statistics are very real for next-generation pastors like To Save A Life author, Jim Britts. “As a youth pastor, I know that going from high school to college or a career is one of the toughest transitions in a person’s life,” says Jim. ”A while back, I was in our church’s prayer room and felt led to write down all of the student leaders who had graduated from our ministry. Then, next to each name, I indicated whether the person was still walking with God, not walking with God, or if I was unsure. I was moved to tears when I saw the results of my list: Of our graduated student leaders I was only aware of fifty percent who were walking with God within five years of leaving our ministry.”
Britts adds, “When Rachel (his wife and co-author) and I wrote Jake’s Choice, our intention was to caution teens about the challenges they will face and help them remain strong in their faith.”
The new novel addresses some of the most common reasons teenagers fall away from the church:
- A physical move breaks ties to an existing church, and the teen either can’t find a new, similar church—or doesn’t try.
- Relationships were what kept the teenager involved with the church, and the transition to a new life breaks or strains those supporting relationships.
- The teen experiences changes in his/her political, ethical or religious beliefs, sometimes due to new influences in their life.
Available in late October, Jake’s Choice picks up where To Save A Life left off, with Jake Taylor leaving California to pursue his dream of playing basketball for the University of Louisville. His longtime girlfriend Amy, as well as the supportive community of his youth pastor and friends, remain behind.
Separated by thousands of miles, Jake and Amy find their lives moving in very different directions. Befriending a young girl with a traumatic history leads Amy back to the father who abandoned her. Jake’s position on the Louisville basketball team lands him in the midst of parties, beautiful women…and one choice that will shake him to the core. When everything he believes is challenged, Jake begins slipping away from his faith and sliding into the old life he thought he left behind. Will Jake’s struggle cost him his relationship with Amy? Will he go with the flow, or will he stand alone for what is right? One choice will change everything.
This October, pick up copies of Jake’s Choice for high school and college students, parents, and youth ministry leaders. Let Jake and Amy’s experiences provide young adults with encouragement and guidance on how to build a strong relationship with God and avoid “church dropout.”