“Top 5 reasons people are leaving the church”
“Church, why the younger generations are leaving you”
“An Open Letter to the Church: Why I am Done with You”
While these may not be exactly the titles of the articles I’ve been reading lately, they are quite similar. Reasons for the decreasing population of twenty- and thirty-somethings has been repeatedly linked to everything from the “showiness” of church to the lack of outward focus and the commercialization of church organization. And lest you think that this blog post is just going to offer yet another reason (and yes, I have my thoughts on the whys as well), be at ease because that is not my intent.
Not because I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening to the church today. Not because I disagree with the other bloggers and articles that choose to address the topic head on. Not because I think the situation doesn’t deserve attention or has legitimate evidence behind it.
In fact, I actually agree with most of them. I think it’s very telling that in a recent survey of 5,000 people, over 72% of White Evangelicals indicated that being an American held the same importance to them as being a Christian. If that’s the message we are giving our kids and youth, guess what happens when they get disillusioned with something in America? Their faith is attached to it. It’s not Jesus. It’s something else. And it’s not okay.
But it’s not the end of the story.
You see, when we simply blame the institution, we negate all the good that comes with it too. When we blame big churches, we miss the big things those churches are doing for the Lord. When we blame denominations, we disregard entire segments of the church who are serving Jesus.
The reality is that many people are leaving the church. But there is another generation quickly coming into adulthood (Generation Alpha) and if we spend all of our time, energy, and study on figuring out what reforms we need to get those who have lost back, we could very easily neglect the generation following closely behind.
As my website name indicates, I firmly believe we need to refocus. I’m less concerned with the size of church building and their multiple worship formats as I am about how they are discipling the next generation.
What is church to our kids, the ones inside the walls of the church right now? Is it a place you go or is it a life you live as a member of Christ’s body?
What is Christianity to our kids? Is it being a good American or being a follower of Christ?
What is faith to our kids? Is it a denominational label you wear with pride or hope realized in serving as the hands and feet of Jesus?
Who is God to our kids? Is He a Santa Claus type being in the sky who loves you and wants to give you things or is He the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator and Lord of All?
Are we so busy discovering what’s wrong with the church that we neglect to instill in our children what is right with Jesus and the Body of Christ?
The other day I told a friend that I am tired of being outraged. I’m tired of laying blame. I’m tired of dissecting and analyzing and judging and criticizing. Not because there aren’t serious issues that need to be addressed. Not because there aren’t legitimate concerns that need to be heard. But because I think we need to be more than outraged. We need to actually be living out what it means to be the church in our own neighborhood, our own communities and our own homes.
Because I have three children who are almost grown and they don’t need to hear what is wrong with the institution of the church; they need to hear what is right about Jesus. They need me to live Jesus in front of them, share Jesus everyday with them, and be Jesus to the world around them. Whether I am walking into a multi-million dollar facility on Sunday morning or into a living room in someone’s home, they need to see, hear, touch, and know Jesus, not what is wrong with the church next door.
We can either spend the next few years being outraged or we can choose today, that “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Let’s choose to invest in parents/caregivers so they can pour Jesus into their kids. Let’s invest in our church, no matter what it looks like, so our children grow up in a community of fellow believers.
It’s time to stop the blame game and start living church like it’s for real and not a game.
Because no matter what, a new generation is growing quickly, and they have not left us yet. Start fighting for them now so we don’t have to blame the church later when they leave. Our God is big enough, strong enough, and amazing enough to show each one His Love as long as we consistently point our children to Him.
It’s Time To ReFocus
Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?
Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.
Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.
Options to choose from for these presentations include:
- Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
- A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
- A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
- A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
- OTHER – We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs
Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.
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
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree who serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ. She is also wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and pastor at Plowshares BIC.
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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.
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