Bridging the Gap

Two weekends ago I attended BASS:  Bay Area Sunday School Convention.  I went to a few workshops focused on Young Adult Ministries.  I came away feeling a bit guilty because most of these years while working with what I refer to, of course, as “the younger generation”, I constantly scratch my head and wonder, “What’s wrong with these kids? Why are you guys like that?”  I’m sure it’s no different from what the generation before mine wondered about MY generation.  I attended one workshop entitled “Generations…The Unbroken Chain: Ministry Through the Ages.”  The speaker went through the different generations from the G.I Generation (born 1900-1924) up to the most recent, Bridger Generation (born 1982-1995) describing what worldly changes or events influenced the way they lived and thought.  For example, for the Bridger Generation (aka Millenials), they had witnessed the terror of 9/11, listened to their president lie to their faces on camera, and have seen the rise in and effects of divorced families.  As a result, the Millenials are considered to be the most serious and worried generation.  A lot of what they do and think is motivated by their desire for stability.

What does this all have to do with church?  Well, the young adult age, which can be defined between the ages of 18-30 tend to drop out of church in droves.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is because the church isn’t meeting the needs of that particular generation.  As I had mentioned earlier, I came away from BASS feeling guilty.  It was because I saw I had been more condemning than understanding of the next generation.  Just because all the generations do things differently, it doesn’t mean they are wrong.  Their perceptions were a result of the experiences from their time.

What I hope to do is to open some dialogue with the young adults because that is the best way to understand them.  Here is a list from a handout: What Will Really Destroy a Young Adult Ministry:

-       If all your people do is sit in the pews

-       If you refuse to listen to them

-       If you refuse to put them to work

-       If you do Bible study the same you have for the last 50 years

-       If you don’t create opportunities for them to interact and get to know people like them

What do you guys think?  Is it true?   Do you feel your church is relevant to you for your age?  Does your church engage your age group? What is missing?  Or what does your church do that keeps you going?

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4 Responses to Bridging the Gap

  1. tif says:

    mmm, good serious topic. i’ve been seeing this at our church recently too. our YA is feeling dry. we try to mix it up by changing sunday school every quarter, but there are a lack of passionate teachers. we know how to teach, but there’s shepherding that’s missing in our group :( . other than that, i agree with that list, however i’ll add one more: talking with others that AREN’T like them is good too. the study of generations seems interesting. reminds me of jesus when he said, You unbelieving generation! or something like that. he must have been speaking to us too.

  2. Dorian says:

    First off, I want to say WELCOME TO THE TEAM ELIANA!

    A great topic indeed! I’ve been dwelling on this idea of “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, a phrase quoted from sociologist Christian Smith where the American religion is serving to meet the personal needs of the individual person ie. singles group, knitting group, Asian group etc. I’m not saying these groups are bad, but maybe church focus has become so individualistic that the teachings of God’s grace and mercy are being neglected.

    My theory is many people attend church because they feel like they belong to a group or a community. Like I said before, community is great but the focus should be on God. When the youth hit their 20′s-30′s, many start to go to college or find a career. At this point in their lives, it is only natural for them to develop new groups and community. Because church has been so focused on meeting the the needs of the individual, the younger generation may get their needs met elsewhere and feel fine leaving their church. This also explains why so many people come back to church in their mid 30′s and on because they want their children to grow up as good people. I believe only the true understanding of Jesus and the gospel is the only way to keep young people in church because Jesus is authentic and there could be only one.

  3. Kelvin says:

    I don’t think the purpose of a church is not to meet our needs.

  4. Kelvin says:

    Correction – I don’t think the purpose of a church is to meet our needs.

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