It’s no secret. Many congregations have lost a good portion of young people. Why? Many churches have failed to contextualize Christianity to reach post-modern young adults.
Here’s what that does not mean: becoming loose on Scripture, watering down the Bible.
Here’s what it does mean: delivering the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that touches the heart language of post-modern young adults.
Why don’t many dedicated Christians and church leaders get this?
#1 Many Christians have never been trained in mission strategy.
#2 Many Christians have never understood that the Great Commission, (Matthew 28:19-20) teaches that each people group is to be reached in their “heart language.” Heart language is the language people dream in. it implies more than words. It includes music, symbols, phrases, dress codes, worship space architecture, seating styles, schedule differences, relational approaches, and cultural nuances.
The Great Commission, to most people, ends by saying that we should reach people “of all nations.” But the words really imply “all people groups.” Millennials are a different people group than their parents.
#3 Some people from older generations have been resistant to change. This is a confusion of style and substance. Christianity has two sides: religion and faith. Religion is how we practice faith. The “how” changes, (1) over time, and, (2) with each culture group, (people group/age group). Church people have forever been tempted to fall into the trap of baptizing the style as sacred—which is never true. Style includes words, music, seating, dress codes, and hundreds of other pieces that make up the context. Methods are many, principles are few. Methods change, principles never do.
#4 Another reason many churches have lost the younger generation is due to binary thinking: a tendency to narrow Christian approaches to an either/or dimension. This avoids both/and thinking: “Our church has a contemporary and a traditional service.” Yet, there is a difficulty in this challenge. Some churches have a contemporary service, but it is contemporary to 20 years ago! With the speed of change in this electronic world, worship style, ministry approaches and language itself is changing more rapidly than ever.
All this is why adding a youth minister or youth worker becomes a challenge every five to ten years. It also signals how very important this type of staff person can be.
If you don’t comprehend this, my blog tomorrow can’t help you. In that blog, we’ll look at strategic elements that help churches find and add outstanding candidates for youth ministry.