As I sit at Starbucks attempting to craft the words to express the challenges of the western church, I get an email entitled: “Don’t Let The Next Generation Slip Away.” It is a promotion from the Barna Group and their opening line is “Young people are leaving the church and rethinking faith. What can we do to avoid losing them?” This got me thinking… and those of you who know me, know I do not think normal! (Please no amen’s!)
As I ruminate over these words, there is a cascade of thoughts regarding the context or paradigm of their statement. It is from a traditional, institutional view regarding the church as a group that has a formal organization with the majority of ministry happening at specific meeting times. From this mindset, you could probably say the church is losing the next generation. Yet, I wonder if we really are.
Changing to a biblical paradigm of the church, we may actually see an increase of young people’s involvement. Viewing the church as God’s people sent on mission for his kingdom, we now have a different value system.
It has been my experience that the younger generation actually spiritually hungry! Their history with organized religion has left them disappointed and longing. They are searching for something that is real and experiential. Along with this, they are seeking a purpose: something greater than themselves that they can get involved in.
I have heard multiple spiritual conversations of this younger generation: coffee shops, restaurants and even in line at amusement parks – all desiring more about God. They are seeking a greater demonstration and involvement of God in their routine lives. In short, they are desiring and demonstrating the relevance of God and his love in the grit and grind of the real world.
So what I believe is happening is a transformation. Traditional religious institutions are losing the younger generation. Yet I believe the real church is gaining true believers who are passionate about demonstrating a wonderful God and his kingdom. Maybe instead of seeking to contain them in an old model, we should seek to empower them to demonstrate the Kingdom!
What say ye?
Dr Martin lives in St Louis MO, with his wife Ava and their dog Zoe. His ministry is to assist church leadership in developing membership ministry involvement and growth. The focus is on teaching and empowering the body of Christ to demonstrate the power of His kingdom in tangible daily life. The results: increased faith and the potential for greater revival and harvest. He is available to speak to your local assembly, organization or ministry. Click here for more info.