Original Research

The connection between youth ministry’s division of evangelism and discipleship, and the lack of retention of youth in North American churches

Kenneth A. Moser, Malan Nel
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a2020 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.2020 | © 2019 Kenneth A. Moser, Malan Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2019 | Published: 20 November 2019

About the author(s)

Kenneth A. Moser, Department of Youth Ministry, Briercrest College and Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
Malan Nel, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The evangelical church in North America is facing a crisis in its failure to retain young people. Research has shown that young people are dropping out of the church and they are not only leaving but also failing to return once they are older. This crisis did not appear in a vacuum; it is the result of the church’s movement towards a style of programming that has created a division between evangelism and discipleship. This style of programme not only seeks to reach those outside of the church at the expense of those youth in the church but also creates a dichotomy between who we are (our identity) and what we do (our mission). The church must seek to remove this dichotomy between identity and mission and utilise strategies that work with our identity rather than against it.

Intradisciplinary and/or Interdisciplinary Implications: This article is an interaction between practical theology and pastoral practice in Christian ministry. The crisis of youth leaving evangelical churches in North America is because of the dichotomy between mission and identity. Once this dichotomy is erased, mission will be a natural outworking of identity in youth ministry.


youth ministry; retention; identity; mission; evangelism; discipleship


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Crossref Citations

1. The Response of The Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Management of Youth Drop-Out Rate in Nyamira County, Kenya
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doi: 10.51867/ajernet.4.2.102