Analyzing some trends…part one

thom rainer is a pretty important dude in the world of christian publishing and resources.   he is the president and CEO of lifeway christian resources,  an author,  a speaker,  and a well-respected analyst of trends in the modern church culture.   you can check out his blog here.

this past weekend,  he wrote about five major trends in culture that he and the lifeway research team projects will have a major impact on the church in america.   they are some super interesting observations.   let’s take a look  at one of them each day this week.

Our nation will see the emergence of the largest generational mission field in more than a century.   According to our current research,  the Millennial generation,  those born between 1980 and 2000,  will have a very low Christian representation.   Our estimates now are that only 15 percent are Christian.   With a huge population of nearly 80 million,  that means that nearly 70 million young people are not Christians.

the millennial generation (also known as generation Y) are the kids born to the baby boomers.   that’s me.   that’s my kids.   these are the teenagers and twenty-somethings we see around us everyday.

i am blown away by the sheer enormity of the numbers.   only 15% are christian?   only three out of every twenty!   talk about a minority.   talk about intimidating.

it’s discouraging to look back over the past thirty years and realize these years of decline have been the years i have dedicated to youth ministry.   did we do the right things?   was this decline inevitable?   were we just fighting a losing battle against a culture we couldn’t compete with?

as a glass-half-full kind of guy,  i’ve got to press on.   i refuse to throw in the towel on this generation.   i am committed to being part of a church family that continues to do anything and everything to connect (or reconnect) with these kids.   we’ve got to be smarter and wiser and more creative and deeper…and we need to represent jesus with more integrity and honest obedience than we have in the past.

70 million young people do not know jesus.   does that matter to you?


4 thoughts on “Analyzing some trends…part one

  1. For those of you who don’t know Nicole and my story, we lived in an area for 10 yrs that was un-churched (Seattle) where only 7% of folks went to church on Sundays.

    What did we learn? It’s difficult to be a follower of Jesus. It’s difficult to communicate His message among the multitude of competing voices. But most importantly it constantly challenged us to be authentic and humble. But in the end, it was the most fun we ever had being a follower of Jesus.

  2. As a parent of four kids from the same generation as yours, I am not a bit surprised this generation has been identified as one of the ‘trends’, only that it has taken until now for it to be recognized (or perhaps published.)
    Our family was what you might call the quintessential church family; both parents serving in a variety of ministries in the local church, which ultimately lead to a church staff position. We were involved in church plants, mission work, a variety of inner city ministries and more. Our children attended church with us from the nursery to youth group; attended Christian preschool and elementary school ; and were involved in ministry with us at the various churches we served as well as ministry in their own right.
    Today we are a family that no longer attends any church nor do we identify with any organized religion. We are spiritual and we have faith, we just don’t have ‘church’. And we are happier and closer and more loving toward each other than we have ever been.
    How did this happen? Gradually. Each member of our family would probably give you a different reason. Yet we all arrived at the same place. ‘Church’ just wasn’t benefiting us as a family. It was doing more harm than good.
    While I understand Rainer and his ‘company’ are researching church growth trends, I think that may be the problem. Stop worrying about church growth, and be concerned with people growth; relationship growth; heart growth. When the church tries to compete with the current culture they fall short. What they end up with are mini amusement parks in Children’s Ministry that become the MTV Youth Groups that become the adults that need to be entertained in worship services. Bring families into worship together, not separately. Stop trying to make everything entertaining and easy. Stop analyzing and start LOVING.

    Sending lots of love to you and Wanda,

  3. wow. good to reconnect beckie. you know, i can remember about eighty years ago…back when we did youth ministry together, we used to try and tell kids that “church isn’t a place you go to, it’s who you are.” for better or worse, that’s a message i’ve never stopped teaching…or trying to live out in my life.

    too bad it’s a message that still gets drowned out by the clutter of church activities and a lack of love. hypocrisy, judgment, and shallow are pretty tough acts to fight. but i’m still working at it.

    give david my best. tell him i still think the padres are gonna pass the doggers in the battle for who stinks the most this year. some things will never change! farra

  4. Oh I have been lurking on your blog for sometime…this one just hit me more than some others and I decided to respond…
    You have a pretty good memory for a 100+ year old guy…hahahha!
    And it is true…“church isn’t a place you go to, it’s who you are.”
    Since we ‘left’ the church (as in organized religion) we have had so many opportunities to share love and compassion with others that we would never have met being ‘busy’ serving in the building! You know what I mean?
    For me, it is all about the love. Love one another, love your neighbor as yourself, love unconditionally, love just because.

    Love ya mike…b

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