An article from the 2/15/17 Weekly Update by Tim Keller
Over the past few weeks we’ve been examining the significant growth nationally in the number of people who identify themselves as “Nones” in surveys about religious affiliation. This response communicates that they have no connection to any organized religious group/church and they personally doubt the existence of God.
What does the local church need to do to move toward these younger people and communicate the love of Jesus Christ, God’s Son?
Some additional recommendations:
The current church must avoid labeling the next generation and instead, draw closer to them as people. Simply put, we must avoid criticism of the coming generation as being lazy or entitled and instead make intentional steps toward getting to know them. It is much easier to be critical of someone when you don’t know them. It’s harder to label an entire generation when you know and care about people who belong to that generation.
The church whose members intentionally cross generational boundaries and develop relationships will be a place where the younger generation will feel safe and welcome. The alternative is to sit back and pass judgment on “these kids who want everything handed to them on a silver platter.” It’s interesting that my parents’ generation said the same thing about my generation. This is a huge step that we must take if we are going to impact the 20-30 year old demographic.
Another step that the local church needs to take is to actually take the teachings of Jesus seriously and begin to live out the values of the King in His kingdom. My children’s generation values authenticity over excellence. They are looking to older Christians (like me), not for perfection, but for transparency.
Alliance president Dr. John Stumbo, fresh off of a series of meetings with younger generation leaders in the Alliance, shared this illustration. He said that his generation, if displaying a vase with a crack in it, would place the vase in a way that the crack was facing away from the observer and toward the wall. The incoming generation would spin the vase around to show off the crack and openly admit to its imperfection. We’re talking about two ways of looking at the same vase.
Finally, if the contemporary Church wants to win the next generation who are currently not connected with the Church, it will have to make a deep commitment to living in community. This involves, but is not limited to, small group participation. It’s about sharing life and living with an awareness of the needs of others. It’s about thinking of the whole body and not just parts of the body of Christ. It’s about moving away from the “Lone Ranger” approach and working in teams to help others when they are down, and to receive help when we are.
If CAC truly wants to impact the coming generation of young people, we’ll need to evaluate our own standing in these and other areas.