April 9, 2012

Why the Church is Losing a Generation and What We Can Do About It


As I visit with and am around churches and church leaders of all different denominations and locations, I see a trend . . .

We’re losing the next generation . . . my generation.

I don’t know where it started or how it happened, but somehow, my generation isn’t interested in what the church is doing.

  • We’re interested in ‘spiritual’ matters,
  • we’re interested in working together,
  • we’re interested in relationships,
  • we’re interested in making an impact,
  • we’re interested in helping others,

but we’re not interested in what the majority of churches are doing.

Youth ministry doesn’t seem to be working as we’ve always done it, college ministry is declining in attendance and therefore, in churches willing to do it, the average age at most churches is getting higher,

and the church is losing a generation.

While some churches are far behind and don’t seem to care (they refuse to take the smallest step away from ‘the usual’),
others are fighting and beating the air as to what to do.

I don’t write this to say that I have the answer. I definitely don’t. I write this to say that it’s alarming me that my peers don’t care about our church . . . about our Christ.

I don’t have ‘the’ answer, but here are some thoughts about what church has to look like in order to get back my generation . . .

1. Relationship. – The attractional church model worked . . . it can still. Not without relationship, though. When I say relationship, I don’t mean we sit people in circles, take prayer requests, and read a Psalm. I mean real, organic relationship.

2. Realism. – Genuine care about my generation. Real faith displayed in daily life. My generation is looking for something that’s more real than the rest of what’s fed to us . . . your people need to live out their faith for the world to see.

3. Responsibility. – My generation wants responsibility. We want the real truth. For the most part, we’re starving for direction and something that works and is absolute. We don’t mind owning something and being challenged with it.

Now, I know these aren’t processes or programming ideas, but they’re just things that I’ve noticed about the millennial generation. In fact, I’m not sure the answer for getting this generation back into church lies in a program or process,

I think it’s lost in those . . .
We have to do so much more . . .
We have to build relationships and earn trust . . .
We have to do the hard work and ask God to give us our young people in our city . . .

before it’s too late.

Okay pastor, youth pastor, parent, teacher, or youth . . . let’s put our heads together . . .

What do you think it’ll take to turn the young generation back on to the local church?

[For more about reaching millennials, see this post and my free ebook.]

Jonathan Pearson is a Christ-follower, husband, pastor, communicator, and a millennial who writes, tweets, and speaks to communicate Christ, vision, and bold living.

Originally Published: April 9, 2012
Category: Church Leadership
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Ircel Harrison
When you talk to church leaders about reaching and involving young adults, you will often discover that their motivation has more to do with saving the institution than nurturing and challenging young adults in the Christian life. As long as churches focus on survival, young adults will continue to pass them by.
2 years10 months ago · ( 2 )
Blake Atwood
Great observation Ircel.
2 years10 months ago · ( 0 )
Matthew Hardin
It is a disturbing trend. I think the big reason we are losing this battle is because churches don't want to change how they do things. We want to put signs up telling what is going on at church, but we aren't willing to go out in the community and tell people what is going on and why we are doing it. Relationships are few and far between in
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this day and age and I believe that is one thing people are looking for. They want genuine, faithful friends who really care about them. Kind of sounds like our Lord huh. We need to be hands and feet instead of pews and seats.
2 years10 months ago · ( 0 )
Alicia Hummel
I think a major problem today is that we, Christians, focus on the do nots. How many times have you heard someone say "Christians can't ______, and can't________," you fill in the blank. We need to start focusing on the victory and freedom we have in Christ. If we are apathetic towards our blessings, why wouldn't the world be?
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/> I see one hurdle with the youth is the church focuses on the outside instead of the hurting person on the inside. Casting Crowns has a great line in one of their songs. It says "Have we become so blind that we can't see that God's gotta change her heart before He changes her shirt." Unfortunately our youth feel judged when walking into a church. I see it all the time. I work at a Christian University and I have tattoos. Most people either ask about them or ignore them; however, I have had a student ask me if I didn't know any better. Better than what? Maybe it's time for us to look deeper than the outside in order to minister to a world that is hurting on the inside.
2 years10 months ago · ( 0 )
Silvester Bocalan
in my experiences as a young adult it will interest me if the passages will be related to some real life experiences right this very generation because this is where we are right now
2 years9 months ago · ( 0 )

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