Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Gary Bredfeldt


Church Drop Out, Church Retention, Emerging Adults, Youth Ministry Commitment, Church Involvement, Youth Ministry


Leadership Studies | Religion


Over the last quarter-century, there has been a consistent call to reconceptualization and at times reject the youth ministry task resulting from the universally accepted church dropout statistic post-high school graduation. In 2008, Brandon Shields presented a falsification study that disproved the theory that high school graduates are leaving the church at a rate of 70-90% at Southern Baptist Megachurches. The purpose of this study was to examine the claim that 70-90% of youth ministry graduates are leaving the church by researching 17 self-identified Evangelical churches of 500-2000 in average church attendance. The research design was a quantitative replication study of the Shields (2008) study. The researcher found a significant correlation among emerging adults in the sample population between current levels of church involvement and previous youth ministry commitment. The data revealed an overall retention statistic of 95.4% for the 502 participants in the research study with 74.3% of the participants having a current level of involvement in the moderate to high-level category verifying Shields findings. Emerging adults with previous youth ministry commitment are not leaving the church.