I try to keep current on the ongoing dialogue about what is ailing our churches. There is one clear consensus flowing out of this discussion: Besides a few bright lights scattered across the nation most churches are getting smaller and older.
The fact is (which should surprise few)—the church is losing the younger generation. The disconnect between the church and the emerging generations only seems to be growing.
Tons of stats by research groups bear witness. The eye test on any given Sunday in any given church support the stats.
And we really do not have a grasp on what to do about it.
- Some argue that our worship needs to include more bells and whistles. We need more screens; better music; less preaching; and more pizazz.
- Others think an emphasis on social ministry is the best approach. Studies are often cited to demonstrate how this appeals to the younger demographic.
- Still others believe that the move toward the above and away from traditional approaches to church and worship have helped create the disconnect and the solution is to move back toward orthodoxy.
When someone finally figures it out—clue me in, please. I honestly do not know, but somehow I feel that it is a little more complex than all of that.
What I do know is that in my lifetime of ministry—everything has changed.
Recently with my kids (ages 12 and 7) I watched a couple of episodes of the old sitcom, The Cosby Show. That show is a 1980s vintage and I marveled at its outlook and content. Cutting edge then was dealing with teens having sex and drinking too much at a party.
Compare that with issues that confront our youngest now—sexting; gender/sexual orientation questions; legalized marijuana; internet pornography; the redefinition of family; the ubiquitous social media; the idolized celebrity culture; the lack of jobs for college graduates in their fields and the failing promise of the American dream. (You can make your own list.)
Do we really believe that reviving up our worship will address any of this?
In truth, we all know the answer.
It is Jesus.
So, our challenge is for the church to become Jesus to our younger generations.
If we can figure out what that looks like, maybe everything will change again.