The urgency of our times should not be driven by our decline in the United Church of Christ. The urgency of our times should be a new generation and population attuned to the values of our UCC message and witness with great potential to be living stones.
18-29 30–49 50-6465+ Total Population 20 39 25 16 Total Protestants 17 38 26 20 Nondenom Charismatic Churches 18 54 22 6 Nondenom Evangelical Churches19 51 22 8 Church of God in Christ 29 33 28 10 Assemblies of God 14 41 33 12 American Baptist Churches 18 36 23 23 Southern Baptist Convention 13 37 27 22 African Methodist Episcopal 14 31 30 25 United Methodist Church 11 34 29 26 Ev. Lutheran Church of America 8 36 29 27 Disciples of Christ 10 33 21 35 Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod 11 32 31 26 Presbyterian Church in America 12 29 32 27 Episcopal Church in the USA 11 29 34 25 Presbyterian Church USA 8 31 30 32 United Church of Christ 11 27 34 28 Anglican Church 7 26 33 35
Since 1991 adult population in the US grew by 15%. During that same period the unchurched population grew by 92%! 75 million US adults do not attend church 'Unchurched' Americans say church is 'full of hypocrites' consider Christianity to be more about organized religion than about loving God and people, …unchristian. Unchurched USA
Age% OutsidersPopulation to Christianity 18-4137%34 Million 16-29 40%24 Million 42-6027%21 Million 61+23%12 Million
44 percent -- agreed that "Christians get on my nerves. Vast majority of young non-Christians view Christianity as anti-gay, judgmental, hypocritical, too political, and out of touch. But 78 percent said they would be willing to listen to someone who wanted to tell them about his or her Christian beliefs. Almost three-quarters -- 72 percent -- agreed that God "actually exists and an even larger percentage -- 86 percent -- said they believed they could have a good relationship with God without church involvement.
Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church The Barna Group September 28, 2011 http://www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/528-six-reasons-young- christians-leave-church Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective. Reason #2 – Teens and twentysomethings experience of Christianity is shallow. Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science. Reason #4 – Young Christians church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental. Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity. Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Five Myths About Young Adult Church Dropouts The Barna Group November 16, 2011 http://www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/534-five-myths-about-young- adult-church-dropouts Results of the entire research project are found in the book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman Myth 1: Most people lose their faith when they leave high school. Reality: More commonly, young Christians wander away from the institutional churcha pattern the researchers labeled nomads. They still call themselves Christians but they are far less active in church than they were during high school. Myth 2: Dropping out of church is just a natural part of young adults maturation. Reality: The significant spiritual and technological changes over the last 50 years make the dropout problem more urgent. Young people are dropping out earlier, staying away longer, and if they come back are less likely to see the church as a long-term part of their life.
Myths Myth 3: College experiences are the key factor that cause people to drop out. Reality: College certainly plays a role in young Christians' spiritual journeys, but it is not necessarily the 'faith killer' many assume. Many young Christians dissociate from their church upbringing well before they reach a college environment; in fact, many are emotionally disconnected from church before their 16th birthday. The problem arises from the inadequacy of preparing young Christians for life beyond youth group. Myth 4: This generation of young Christians is increasingly "biblically illiterate." Reality: When comparing the faith of young practicing Christians (ages 18 to 29) to those of older practicing Christians (ages 30-plus), surprisingly few differences emerged between what the two groups believe. Many younger Christians are cognizant that their peers are increasingly unfriendly or indifferent toward Christian beliefs and commitment. As a consequence, young Christians recognize that the nature of sharing one's faith is changing. For example, many young Christians believe they have to be more culturally engaged in order to communicate Christianity to their peers.
THE BIG MYTH Myth 5: Young people will come back to church like they always do. Reality: Some faith leaders minimize the church dropout problem by assuming that young adults will come back to the church when they get older, especially when they have children. However, previous research conducted by Barna Group raises doubts about this conclusion. Furthermore, the social changes since 1960 make this generation much less likely to follow the conventional path to having children: Mosaics (often called Millennials or Gen Y) are getting married roughly six years later than did the Boomers; they are having their first child much later in life;
Five Cultural Shifts That Should Affect the Way We Do Church Carol Howard Merritt Duke Divinity School Faith and Leadership Blog September 22, 2011 http://www.faithandleadership.com/blog/09-22-2011/carol-howard-merritt- five-cultural-shifts-should-affect-the-way-we-do-church Finances. Younger generations are not faring well in this economy and they feel like they need to get their life together before they go to church. Work Hours. Many people in their 20s and 30s work retail or in the service industry. You dont get Sunday mornings off unless youre management.
Families. People marry and have children later in life. Were a society that expects financial stability before a couple gets married, and many younger adults cant manage financial stability. The Internet. Church leaders have a lot on their plate. Many dont think they have any time for Facebook or Twitter. But theres no way to ignore it any longer. Even if a church leader shies away from the web, people may be talking about you on Google Map reviews or Yelp. Politics. A new generation is exhausted from the culture wars. Many people growing up in the last few decades had a difficult time keepingChristian and Republican in two separate boxes. Emerging generations look at poverty, the environment and war as complex issues, and many younger evangelicals are less likely to vote on pro- life credentials alone. Many young Christians who grew up evangelical are trying out mainline congregations. Five Cultural Shifts That Should Affect the Way We Do Church
What does all this mean? What is it saying to us?
In The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West... Again, George Hunter writes about the difference between what he describes as the evangelism approach in Roman and Celtic Christianity. Roman Model Celtic Model Presentation Fellowship Decision Ministry and Conversation Fellowship Belief, Invitation to Commitment
Christianity is more caught than taught! As Professor Robin Gill observes, belonging comes before believing. For this reason, Fostering discipleship is now about helping people to belong so that they can believe.
The days of waiting for new generations to come to church to welcome them are over. Instead of waiting inside, we go outside to meet them Bridge the gap by building relationships
Hang out where there are new generations Meet them where they gather Soccer matches, book stores, Coffee Shop, Gym, Parks Pastors office in a coffee shop, fast food, bookstore. Make public your worship, go outdoors Have discussion groups outside the church. Bible/book studies in coffee shop, book store Movies Engage in conversation, build relationships, Collect data of names/addresses/e-mails
I stopped wondering about how to draw younger folks into my church and started focusing on how to draw my congregation out of its building and into relationship with the world outside its doors.
Conversational ministry is central to the future of the church in 21 st Count conversations, not conversions Brian McLaren, More Ready than You Think Talk and Listen to New Generations What are their hopes and challenges.
The postmodern world calls for disciples who reach out to a world that is hungering for good conversation about faith, values, hope, meaning, purpose, goodness, beauty, truth, life after death, life before death and God. Engaging in everyday faith conversations will not only help others become disciples, it will help us become disciples, who know and love the stillspeaking God more than ever.
New Generations want to talk. We are the ones who are not talking New Generations are curious and want information not on what we believe, butwhy we believe.
Reaching New Generations Make it joyful and God-filled Make it spiritual and experiential Make it conversational and casual Make it personal, real and authentic Make it about missional opportunities Make it about discipleship not membership Make it about community transformation not church growth Make it about the journey not the place Make it excellent Make it real online Make it possible for busy lives
What did you learn about new generations? What are best practices that you have seen in faith formation with new generations? What is one thing you are going to do?
Blessings as you discern how God is calling you in faith formation to build a foundation of living stones with new generations!
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