Monday, March 18, 2013

A church for all generations

Some churches in America are comprised of essentially a single generation. Some become this way through changing neighborhood demographics and others intentionally target an age group for a new church start. The religious establishment encourages targeted evangelism as an effective means of church growth and the popular target is usually the under 40 crowd. In fact, if you reach people under 40 in large enough numbers you will be admired by your peers and celebrated by the religious establishment. You can write a book and hold seminars.

Churches that are primarily composed of people over 60 are perceived to be dying and many actually are. Emerging leaders often lack the patience to communicate with these churches and are frustrated when their advice is not taken. While it's true that many over 60 fail to see a need for change, many under 40 fail to see the unintended consequences that change can bring. Both sides of the generational divide must reach across the aisle and work together for the sake of the gospel.

Senior adults built our church buildings and invested their lives in ministry. They deserve respect. Their presence and wisdom are valuable.

Young adults deserve to be heard as well. They have much to offer, including insights on reaching others their age. Many young pastors lament the fact that their generation has no place in the established church.

Thriving churches have children running around and adults of all ages working and worshiping together. At some point thriving churches decide to intentionally place the gospel above personal preferences. At some point thriving churches learn that church is more than the right name and a cherished worship style. At some point thriving churches shift their focus away from self and toward God and the world he loved so much that he sent His only son to save it.

1 comment:

Diana Aranda-Curtis said...

Some churches are so used to their every Sunday routines that change is too much of a big step for them. One church that my husband and I attended did not try to reach children in the community...they had not changed anything in the nursery or children's classes for years. Their reason was that there weren't enough children or babies to make these changes. But when visitors came; they saw the lack of concern for the children as the rooms had broken toys, inappropriate age toys for infants and toddlers and just one crib which was broken and full of old toys. Money was not their problem, but they lacked to do anything that would make people feel welcome. The pastor wife's reasoning was that if people want to come just for what they can get from the church, then they truly are not seeking God? The church has not grown and has only diminished to a hand full of people. So sad to see a church that does not see beyond today.