An article from the 2/8/17 Weekly Update by Tim Keller
Last week we took a look at the “Nones.” They are the increasingly frequent individuals who identify as having no religious affiliation and who doubt the very existence of God.
The question we asked ourselves was how the Church can move in the direction of the “Nones” and actually minister effectively to them.
For starters, let’s establish the scope of what we’re dealing with; nationally, 18-29 year olds represent 20% of the American population, yet they currently represent just 10% of the population of the Church. Something must change in order to connect with and engage the next generation. Status quo will not be an acceptable answer.
I’d humbly like to offer several suggestions that could represent some positive steps toward achieving this goal.
First, the local church needs to recognize that its size does not have to be a barrier to a successful ministry of engagement with the younger generation. Churches of less than 50 are doing a great job with this objective as are churches of more than 10,000. Using the “our church is too small” argument just doesn’t hold up against the reality of what some smaller churches are doing.
Second, it is a mistake to simply embrace the idea that in order for a church to connect with the next generation it has to become more “cool” or “hip.” We can leave the skinny jeans in the closet (or better, on the rack) because the next generation isn’t looking for the cool church with the smoke machine and the 4 minute sermon that goes light on Truth. Nope, research indicates that the younger generation isn’t influenced by those attempts at connection.
Third, one of the most powerful steps the local church can make is to hand the keys of leadership to those in the next generation who have displayed that they are ready to handle it. Developing leaders is more than just sitting the younger people in a classroom and telling them what they need to know and do. It’s about giving them a chance to take the leadership “vehicle” out for a test drive and experience the thrill and agony of being in charge. Yes, sometimes they might drive it into a telephone pole but they won’t truly take ownership until they get a chance to shape the future direction of the church.
Next week we’ll continue to look at additional steps.