The reaching the next generation

Posted: January 15, 2013 by efenster in Ideas

Ed 09There’s the saying that the Christian faith is only one generation away from extinction.  Over the past couple thousands years, most new Christians have received the faith from seasoned Christians and their churches.   It is now our turn.  Will we, and our churches, successfully pass the faith on to our younger generations?

National Public Radio has been airing conversations this week with young people who have left the faith.  In the past five years, the percentage of Americans claiming no faith–the “nones”–has risen dramatically from 15 to 20% of the population.  It is very clear that when Christ talked about the need to put new wine into new wine skins, he was speaking as much to us today as those from his day.  Although the Good News doesn’t change, we must learn how to adapt it for today’s world.

Last night I was meeting with a small group of young people from a church in our conference.  Their church is participating in the Fruitful Congregation Journey process and I was interviewing them as a part of their church’s assessment.  All nine of the people were  very committed to their church and regularly participate.  When asked what the best thing was about their church, they said its people.  However, when asked what one thing they would change, they immediately said their worship service.  They described their present service as not being engaging, of it lacking the “Wow!” factor that the church’s Sunday evening youth service has.  In fact, they said they hesitate inviting their friends to attend because they’re never quite sure what the service will be like.  It is a hodgepodge of styles, and as a result, it doesn’t seem to be serving anyone well.

It would be easy for this church to dismiss these comments from their younger members.  Yet, if this church is going to pass the faith on, it best begin listening to the concerns of its younger people.  So, what about you and your church?  Are you listening to your church’s young voices? Are you listening to the young people of your community?  If not, why not start today, and let’s make sure the faith gets passed on during our watch.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

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