Recently, one of my friends posted on Facebook the following question: “Trends indicate that the church is losing an entire generation of young people. What can reverse this trend?“
There were a lot of responses, ranging from revival to education to community.
On that same day, I received an email from Springtide Research sharing some of their findings from one of their latest surveys.
In The State of Religion & Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty, our research is revealing some surprising things.
First, only 10% of young people told us a faith leader reached out to them during the pandemic.
Second, only 16% of young people turn to faith leaders in times of uncertainty—which is the same percent of young people who tell us they turn to “no one.”Springtide Research
Ten percent of young people had a faith leader reach out to them over the year-long pandemic.
Let’s put these two pieces of information into context: One statement contends that the church is “losing” an entire generation, presumably the youngest generations. The other states that during a global, year-long pandemic that has been proven to have had a profound impact on the youngest generations, only 10% of them had a faith leader reach out to them.
I know, I’ve repeated that statistic a few times. I’m hoping at this point the reality of what is being experienced by young people in the church is beginning to sink in.
Revival without relationship, education without empathy, and community without consistency will not bring about lasting, lifelong, dynamic faith formation. It will bring about a deconstructing, disassociating generation who know A LOT about the Bible but very little about the Church; who can quote Bible verses and win treasure boxes and go on mission trips but never experience a community that allows for doubt, questions, disagreement, or meaningful intergenerational relationships.
Lifelong faith does not find its allegiance in a building, a curriculum, a denomination, or even a church. Lifelong faith is built upon a foundation of relationship with God and relationship with the Church. It is not contained in a Sunday School classroom, a thriving youth group, or an amazing worship band. It is found in discipleship, one generation to another, in meaningful relationships based on mutual love, respect, and honor.
My response to the original posted question?
“Relationships, conversation, genuine community, slow to anger, slow to speak, quick to listen, serving others without expectation of return, treating all people with love and grace, valuing a person for their humanity made in God’s image over their personal beliefs, values, morals or political leanings, divorcing nationalism from faith, pursuing peace and living as ambassadors of reconciliation”
Friends, ministers, fellow Christians – we need to do better. We don’t need better stages or better pews or better songs or better curriculums or better (fill-in-the-blank). We need to do better at simply loving God and love others; at making space for genuine relationships to be cultivated between all members of the congregation and clergy; at prioritizing community over convenience and customs; at being the body of Christ. Better than ten percent.
There’s no silver bullet that’s going to turn the tide of those choosing to walk away from the faith experience they grew up with. But relationships, true, caring, meaningful relationships, sure have a fighting chance at making a difference.
ReConnect: A Webinar for Generational Connections
Ready to Start Connecting Generations, Not Sure Where to Begin?
ReFocus Ministry is pleased to present a four-part webinar series on generational discipleship and connection for churches interested in exploring intergenerational ministry both in their church and in their homes. Each session will focus on a unique aspect of gathering generations together, both the challenges and opportunities, as well as practical tips to begin implementing now during this time away from regular church gatherings.
- Session 1 – ReConnect. This first session of the webinar focuses on defining generations, generation gap, and the need for generational discipleship in your church. This is the “What” behind generational discipleship.
- Session 2 – ReGenerate. This session focuses on the the research, the reasons, and the heart behind connecting generations from both a secular and spiritual viewpoint. This is the “Why” behind generational discipleship.
- Session 3 – ReProduce. This session offers practical tips, strategies, and ideas to being connecting generations in your faith community and in homes in meaningful, lasting, life-changing ways. This is the “How” behind generational discipleship.
- Session 4 – ReLease. It’s time to go and do! This session will provide a discussion and debrief around the questions, “What? So What? Now What?” and give you and starting point for incorporating generational discipleship as a meaningful part of your faith community. This is the “Who” behind generational discipleship at your church and in your home!
Anyone registered for all four sessions will receive a FREE half-hour coaching session/follow-up specific to your ministry needs.
For more information and to purchase your ticket, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reconnect-a-webinar-for-generational-connections-tickets-185848597157 or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1020287428749254
For more information about…
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.
With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.