Everything Has Changed


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.


3 Responses to Everything Has Changed

  1. mattdabbs says:

    Identity and belonging. Their culture changed drastically while church culture has remained relatively static. The gap was getting bigger and bigger and then we added youth ministry to further isolate these young people from the more spiritually mature who they neede to identify with. The gap grew even more. Then the kids of the hippie generation had kids and those parents learned from the church two deadly in intended teachings: 1) faith is based around a brick and mortar structure 1 hour a week. Attend and you are good. Attendance was rewarded and punished. Some brought their kids based on that but disciples aren’t made in pres so it didn’t work. When they had freedom to leave they did and it wasnt hard to leave something they weren’t connected with to begin with. 2) drop off mentality to professionally trained ministers. Parents gave over their role in discipline their kids because that happens at the building, not in the home, right?

  2. dannydodd says:

    Excellent thoughts Matt– especially your point about churches staying static while surrounding culture has changed.

  3. Jim says:

    There is far more to Christianity than showing up for an hour on Sunday. Also, it is about time the CofC started answering the hard questions like situational ethics and remaining ethical the other 6 days of the week. I don’t know why these topics are never mentioned. Could it be that they would require thinking about the answer or considering something new? CofC loves to say “it is right” or “it is wrong”. There is a large gray area in the middle. Also, some things may be discussed in Sunday school but never from the pulpit. If it is wrong in Sunday school, then it is wrong to say it from the pulpit. But if the CofC will be moderate in Sunday school but the minister takes the hard line approach from the pulpit, then you have hypocrisy. That has led to more people leaving than most anything else.

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