Reaching the Next Generations Part I: 5 Roadblocks to Involving the Next Generations (Knowingly or Not)
Several facts suggest that many congregations need to invest significant attention, energy and creativity in reaching the next generations of persons in our community:
- Today, 17.5% of Americans attend church on any given Sunday.
- In 1940, the average age of United Methodist members is estimated to be 40; to day it is around 60 years of age.
- The fastest growing religious group in America today is the “nones: no religious preference.” Almost 1 in 5 Americans marked “none” on the U.S. Census.
- 1/3 of Americans under 30 maked “none,” compared with 9% of those over 65.
Roadblock #1: Perpetuate strategies that served well older generations, but no longer effectively serve the next generations.
Jesus said, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22) It is often difficult for us to separate the wineskins from the new wine in our experience. They easily get confused. We have felt our spiritual lives nourished through a certain style of worship and come to believe that only this style is proper. We were enriched by certain ministries in the past and come to assume that those ministries will enrich the lives of future generations. But persons from those generations don’t seem to have our same experience.
Visualize the leaders in your congregation. Are there leaders in their 40’s and 30’s? Have you intentionally welcomed younger generations into your leadership? “Hospitality” usually involves making room for others. If younger persons do not see persons “like them” in leadership, they will assume that there is no place for them here.
Roadblock #5: Respond fearfully or judgmentally to younger generations unless they act like us, look like us, think like us, live like us and speak like us.
consider forwarding it to other leaders in your congregation
and encouraging them to sign up at www.congregationaltransformation.com
Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Office of Congregational Transformation
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