Billy? Here. Hannah? Present. Alex? I’m here. Sound familiar? We have all grown up being on an attendance sheet whether that was in grade school, on a sports team, or work. We have always been rewarded for having good attendance and showing up on time. If you’re the person taking attendance, you really pay attention to the people who are there often but also notice the people who don’t get the checkmark by their name frequently. But for some reason when these people are taken off our list and new ones come we can easily forget about the ones we had on our list before.
As a youth pastor and someone who grew up in the church, I have seen the attendance sheet become a very important piece of paper. Pastors, youth leaders, and Sunday school teachers across the United States have put a lot of effort to make sure they can keep track of numbers, names, and contact information. I think having an attendance sheet can be a great thing if used correctly. When used not just to keep track of numbers, but also to use it to know who has been through your church or youth group so that you can stay in their life it can be a great thing.
In youth, specifically, when high school graduates go on to college or go into the workforce they are taken off our attendance roles. I have experienced first hand that when I graduated high school and went to college it was if most if not all the leaders that had been involved in my life at the church were completely gone. No calls, texts, emails, or social media shout-outs. It almost felt as if I was just a number on a piece of paper for 4 years and then told, “okay good luck at life.” In one moment I went from having much positive influence in my life and people all around me to help me point my life in the right direction, but in an instant I had no one pouring into my life anymore.
What most of us know, but might not realize is that when a high school teen graduates and goes to the workforce or goes to college is the first time they are on their own making decisions in life. This is one of the most crucial times in a young adults life where they need a good supporting cast around them to help continue to pour into their lives and give them the truth when the world around them is giving them lies.
"This is one of the most crucial times in a young adults life where they need a good supporting cast around them to help continue to pour into their lives and give them the truth when the world around them is giving them lies."
There are simple yet crucial steps that we can take for bridging the gap to the young adults that go off our list.
Do not take them off your list, but yet move them into a different category on your list. These relationships we have built shouldn’t end just because they don’t live close to your church.
Call, send a text, and go hard in the summer. A simple call or text can really help someone when they are going through school or just entering the workforce. Also go hard in the summer! Most college students come back home during summer break. This is a great time to get reconnected again and get them help to lead somewhere in your church or the community because serving helps get them plugged into their support they have had and can help them put their faith into action.
Understand they are going to make mistakes. Yes with all the hormones going crazy and being on your own for the first time there are going to be mistakes made. The key is to understand this is going to happen and not judge them. Surround them with the love of Christ and help point them in the right direction and to get back up and fight the good fight!
Try to get them to find friends who believe and live out the gospel of Christ. If that happens then there are people in their everyday life to help them make the right choices in life.
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Those are 4 simple steps to help bridge the gap between the young adults that have left our attendance role. The drop off rate of teens coming back to any church after graduating is slim. We must as a whole of a church help to continue to pour into these graduates lives when they need it the most. Remember just because they aren’t present Sunday at church and are not visible on the attendance sheet doesn’t mean we scratch them off our list.