Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I was reading twitter today and saw a link to an article on false statistics.  Then today I got an e-mail about a crazy awesome baseball catch that saves the life of a woman reporter…. and it’s awesome and a fake.  Both got me thinking.

So, in honor of stats that are bogus and since you likely know that 3 out of 5 statistics are made up on the spot.  Here’s my take on 5 that don’t hold much water but are common place in the youth ministry world.

No they aren’t.  For every study that says teens are having sex there’s one that will say they’re having less sex.   Yup, some students are sexually active.  All probably wish they were.  But I’m putting my money on the side of regardless what “they say”, most graduates even went home on prom night still in the clothes they left in.

I hate this statistic not only because I could give you lots of examples where this isn’t true, but mostly because I could give you just as many examples where it was primarily the church’s issue, not the youth pastors.  It might be more accurate to say, “the average church in america” doesn’t want a youth ministry for more than 2 years before they decide to practically and financially rethink it.

I think this might be the most quoted verse in all of youth ministry gatherings.  Students will say it to each other to build up confidence.  Leaders and pastors use it to encourage and to support their view.  But it is not true nor was that the point of the passage in Matthew 18 where Jesus says it.  He was not trying to give us some blanket statistic for every time 3 believers sit in a circle.  Trust me, there are tons of times when 2 or 3 “christians” have gathered together and the Holy Spirit was no where in it and lots of times where they were all alone and God was surely there with them.  Just because 2 or 3 people get together and pray does not mean their decisions were blessed by God.  It just doesn’t. What about those 2 naked students in my first bogus statistic.  Was God in their midst?  Well… that depends on what you mean… I suppose he mighta been there, but I’m not guessing he wasn’t directing their actions.

If you do enough youth ministry and hang around youth pastors long enough, you’ll find that there is no shortage of “you’re not gonna believe this one” stories.  Many of which stem from something your senior pastor or some angry parent said to you.  But despite the stereo types, every youth pastor in the world needs strong pastoral and parental support to do ministry well.  Youth Pastors are not saints any more than parents and senior pastors are demon possessed. [there’s a thousand things I’m not typing here :)] Bottom line is we’d all be better off if we’d quit ranting about the bad apples and started partnering with the healthy ones.

No they won’t.  And if they did, it’s because 80% never owned it in the first place.  It’s also not because youth ministry is dead.  This is like blaming a divorce on a professional counselor’s inability to fix a couple who came to them with divorce paperwork in hand.  There is way more to a student’s spiritual development than just their hour on sunday or midweek in youth ministry.  Youth ministry might not be dead, but expecting a couple hours in youth group per week in their teen years to change a life for forever… that might be dead.

Got any bogus stats you wanna add?


  1. Great thoughts, thanks for sharing. I heard once that 87% of all stats on the internet are wrongly believed by those who read them…
    All kidding aside, I’ve always heard that the percentage of graduates leaving their faith is up in the 90% range. I think you’re dead on though that they never owned it in the first place, it’s important that parents learn this as well. Most battles are won on the homefront, not within the walls of a church for an hour or two a week. (Not saying it can’t happen, it’s just an uphill battle!)
    Keep up the good work!



  2. Your last point reminded me of a quote for Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book “Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus”. She writes, “The premise of this book is that the primary reason the majority of kids from Christian homes stray from the faith is that they never really heard it or had it to begin with.”

    I enjoy the blog – keep it up!

  3. Thanks for keeping it real and looking beyond the surface so many prefer because it’s easier than doing the hard work and heavy lifting to get to the bottom of bogus, Brian.

  4. I’d say that the whole concept of the crazier the game, the goofier the pastor, the gimmickier the event, the more students will come, and the better the result.

    The stereotype that I want to shave my head to get kids to go to camp is one I do NOT enjoy living with on a daily basis. I don’t know what all you blended in that blender, but I’ll have nothing to do with chugging it in under 60 seconds.

  5. While I don’t do them today Austin, I must confess that I’ve shaved my head and had kids chug a blender in my day. Live and learn. But the late 80’s and early 90’s was a different day for all of us HAAA!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    “And if they did, it’s because 80% never owned it in the first place.” hmmm, so anyone who lost faith never really had it? This seems a little nuts to me. (1) You’re arguing for a highly dubious statistical certainty in a column that attacks statistical probabilities and (2) would you really argue that all those prodigal sons who do return home were never of a truly faithful disposition prior to their faith chucking? Saying ‘you never had it’ does seem a revisionist way of explaining away some extremely complicated social and intellectual factors attendant to adoslence. It also implies some hard boundary between faith and not-faith which I think would be difficult to defend, since even the most faithful among us are full of sin on any given day. (3) Also, what does ‘if you left you never had it’ do to our god-given gift of free-will? because you’re suggesting if we truly have faith then it’s impossible to choose otherwise. But if it’s impossible to chose otherwise then there’s no free will. God bless.

  7. 1. change 80% to 50% or just substitute “a grip” of them if you need to. Not sure I was trying to write my own statistic here.

    2. nope. just that when they didn’t go from “own it” to “not own it” because of lame youth ministry. I agree, the faith line is blurry, so is the “graduation one” in my estimation. if we gave those same students (which is not 80% anyway) a chance to leave youth group at 16 instead of 18, I’m not sure the data would change much

    3. If you left it, you probably haven’t had it for a while. no one gets a divorce overnight. That’s my point with faith and “hard facts at graduation” too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    thanks for the clarification

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