Even churches with fantastic youth programs see a huge drop off of youth who graduate high school and move into adulthood.
One of the things that the church has been saying for decades is that we've got to pass the torch of leadership from one generation to the next so that the church of Jesus Christ will continue strong into the future.
I don't think this is the best analogy of what the church is called to be.
Passing on the torch is akin to passing on responsibilities of the church to the next generation and to abdicate from their lives. I don't think abdication is what God had in mind when he's talking about passing on the faith to the next generation.
Another way that churches have been "passing" the torch is for the older generation to hang on to power and responsibility as long as possible and then pass on the leadership torch at the last minute possible to whoever is left.
But by then two to three generations of people have been skipped over because those who would have taken on the mantle of leadership for those generations have left the church.
By the time the torch is passed on, those who passed on the leadership torch are too old to continue leading, and those holding the mantle of leadership are too young to know what to do with it.
Perhaps a better way to think about leadership in the church is to think of the church as an organic body.
Cultivating intergenerational relationships is one of the most important ways in which the church can develop flourishing faith in both the young and the old.
But in too many churches, we have intentionally isolated the generations from one another through our own programing and thereby robbed from our youth and young adults the richness of spiritual and life wisdom of older adults.
Instead of serving and equipping our youth to become mature Christians in the faith, we have robbed the youth of the wisdom that they desperately need to navigate the uncertain waters of life with spiritual wisdom and guidance.
What the church ought to be doing is encouraging and developing opportunities for meaningful intergenerational relationships.
It's not that everyone has to do everything together. It's that the church ought to be intentional about creating and fostering opportunities for meaningful relationships to develop amongst the generations so that the wisdom of faith and spirituality can be passed on from one generation to the next.