Answering the Tough Church Questions the Older Generations are Reluctant to Answer

The Bible declares in 1 Peter 2:9 as Christians:

“We (you) are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” [1]

Thom Rainer says, “The Millennial generation of young people are not seeking to be adversarial; they are simply asking tough questions those of us in older generations are reticent to address.” This emerging generation now known as the Y Generation or iY Generation because of its ability to utilize technologies and the internet, is the future of America and it is the future of most churches as well! Yet they have their hands full navigating societal pressures and being flung into adulthood at a rampant pace. The pressure for the Y Generation is intense and the stakes are high. Generation Y has much to offer, but they need mentors to direct them and engage them in ways, which speak relevance to their generation. We need to channel their energy into the local church. This generation must be lead in ways to allow them to face the challenges they need and make the impact so vital for the local church. These children of the late Baby Boomer generation and early X-er Generation were born between 1984 and 2002. They will become the largest generation even surpassing the Baby Boomer generation in the world.

They are the digital, technological, and internet generation. Already one half of the world’s population is under twenty-five years old. That represents a little more than three billion people across the globe. Within America their numbers already rival the baby boomers and as immigration continues to influence our land the numbers might grow as large as a hundred million, nearly one third of our total population.

We have heard for a long time that we need to embrace change and yet the biggest opposition to change is appearing in the Veterans generations made up of the veterans, builder, and silent as well as the initial early boomer generations.

Those born before 1955 are struggling with where the church of the Americas must go in order to reach the young across our western hemisphere. Younger individuals want to worship and want to make their lives count for something within the Christian realm, yet is it habitually the older generations, which refuse, rebuff, and reject the changes, which will allow the younger generations to connect to the local church. I was thinking about the change in the American church from old sacred hymns to more contemporary hymns. The late builder and early boomer generations coming home from war desiring a new and different type of hymns led this transformation. New hymnbooks were created in almost every protestant evangelical denomination to meet their needs and wants. Change was key to these new forms of worship for those returning and yet the day in which we live it is often these very generations who are the actual ones resisting the change in music form for today’s edgier young.

Consider if you will as our population explodes along with generational differences in mind-set what will happen as is happening as they come together to create adversarial circumstances that will steadily deteriorate, creating a perfect storm that can spell disaster for the church struggling to be revitalized. Change is all around us and we must embrace it right away and not fear those things we do not yet know. Consider these change factors for the future:

· Fifty percent of the American workforce will retire within the next seven years.
· The largest number of college graduates entered the workforce four years ago in 2009.
· Many older business leaders lack the skills necessary to motivate and retain talented younger employees.
· Unable to attract young people, some businesses run the risk of being unequipped to compete in the future.

These same conclusions might be a sobering wakeup call for the local church.

· Many churches have become unable to draw the younger audience in to the church and are occupied by retirees and are quickly losing the critical mass necessary to keep the church growing. If the church lacks the young today in the next ten years it is facing a demising dilemma that signals church closures.
· Young business adults are searching for a place to worship, which connects with their new ideas. These graduates could be a great influence for the renewal of a local church if the church sought to develop new inviting as well as compelling formats, which matched the needs and expectations of the younger central Florida resident.
· Like business leaders, which lack the skills necessary to motivate and retain the younger generation, churches often fail to develop the skill sets necessary to reach into these generational differences and touch younger individuals and families with the gospel.
· A church which is unable to attract younger people like its business world equivalent runs the risk of being unequipped and unfitted to draw the younger generations into their local church expression.

Let’s think about that fact and begin doing something about it! If you would like to have conversations related to this blog post, why not drop me a line so we can begin your journey and conversation.

You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Virtual Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or tcheyney@goba.org.

[1] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 1 Peter 2:9–10.


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