Stats on what younger generations think of the church

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For you stat-heads out there, LifeWay guru Ed Stetzer has posted some information on what younger generations think about the Church and Christianity. Check them out here. I think there’s some interesting stuff there.

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17 Responses to “Stats on what younger generations think of the church”

  1. spiritualsamurai Says:

    These statistics should not surprise us considering that for the past 30 years all we have been doing is entertaining young people rather than help them develop the skills needed for spiritual warfare.

    When you try and cut programs like Super Summer, create a culture of entitlement, and pay more attention to fads than to developing disciples you can see the results.

    The church I serve is going to put more money into Camp Copass, developing scholarship programs for Christian education and training, and developing our own educational material that is more in accord with the way youth learn rather than reward a political persuasion or funding phantom churches. It is going to be a long hard haul to undo the damage that has already been done.

  2. TheDeeZone Says:

    Heard Ed speak at a Threads Connections conference last month on this topic it was very interesting.

    Spiritualsamurai,

    It is more that just churches not developing disciples. Millininels are the first generation in this country to grow up predominately unchurched.

  3. David Troublefield Says:

    1. No living U.S. generation has been discipled well for Christ, though many from each generation have taken direction for their own spiritual growth (cf. Barna’s research).

    2. The largest English-speaking mission field in the world now: the United States of America (100 million unchurched citizens; millenials definitely aren’t alone).

  4. spiritualsamurai Says:

    I agree with both of you. So what are we to do? It is obvious that the methodology of the past has not worked. Sadly, as I look at the specifics of Texas 2010 is see the same old archaic footprint of a bureaucracy, program driven event that hasn’t worked in the past. What need new methodologies and structures. The MasterLife program was good but limited by its cost and elitist limitations.

    Younger people today learn in faster more complicated way. We need to find a way to include discipleship training in their multi-tasking lifestyle. I am open to any ideas which will do this as long as it is not controlled by a central authority concerned only with its continued existence.

  5. John Says:

    Is it possible that methodologies, structures and programs are symptoms of the problem, but not the root issue? Ultimately, there are people who call themselves Christians who are not living out their faith. They aren’t being true to the principles of the faith.

    I know I oversimplify things plenty of times, but couldn’t this issue be solved with a small group of people powerfully living out their faith? It strikes me that that’s exactly what Christ did. Through relationships with others, people will see Christ in them. They’ll hear about Christ. They’ll be discipled. And those people will disciple others. It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. And it won’t be a smooth process. But that’s the way life works. It’s a beautiful struggle.

    Now what does that look like for a church? It will look different for each church. David M., if your church can develop education material that’s the most effective for your community, that’s great. I’m praying that material helps change Mineral Wells and beyond. I’d say the same to Dee or Troublefield. Whatever your church needs to do to encourage people to live in a strong relationship with God and with others, man I’m praying for you. If our staff can help you with that, we want to do everything we can.

    I think that’s somewhat the beauty of Texas Hope 2010. There’s freedom. There is no program. The only person in charge is God. Sure there are options and some resources — audio Bibles, prayer guides, etc. But really, it’s up to each Texas Baptist and each Texas Baptist church to decide how and whether to be involved in the effort.

    I just want to see people reached and discipled for Christ. We have to get back to loving God and loving people as a result of that relationship with God.

  6. David Troublefield Says:

    For me: the central authority for your church is your church (“Baptist headquarters is: your church”) which should set the pace for any convention or its staff. The BGCT is your congregation, and its staff answers to your congregation via its messengers. The Bible Study section’s workers ought to be able to provide already-paid-for assistance which is relevant today; if not . . . I don’t know.

    Despite technological changes during recent decades, all generations still learn only via their God-given senses (primarily sight, sound, touch, or a combination thereof)–and “how” still varies from person to person. Discipling in any era will require an eclectic approach: pulpit-centered, program-centered, process-centered, and person-centered; try any and all, customized to each believer (requires smart spiritual leaders who remain focused on the transformation of individuals and not on the myriad of other things which otherwise demand spiritual leaders’ time). Provide guided and independent practice opportunities (i.e., mission/ministry projects/trips) so you’ll know people actually learned what they were taught.

    Much commercially-prepared curriculum may not have kept up with advances/uses of technology; that’s no one’s fault necessarily–technology today is meant to beat technology produced just yesterday, and it’s hard for everyone to keep up.

    The content of MasterLife is OK—its packaging was updated a decade ago; what it—or any printed Bible study—needs is an effective teacher who has internalized the content himself, is living what he’s teaching, can communicate it well, and will keep at it until everyone who ought to know it actually learns it. That can be you; use your best disciples now, hire more help from folks just like them as soon as it can be afforded, and keep moving forward with that focus.

    My opinion.

  7. TheDeeZone Says:

    David T.: Are you familiar Threads? Threads is the young adult division of Lifeway. They have very good relevant resources.

  8. What’s the Christian ‘brand?’ « We Are Texas Baptists Says:

    […] What’s the Christian ‘brand?’ I try not to post entire stories that I write in this space, but Gabe Lyons, author of unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity … and Why it Matters, spoke the last couple days at the BGCT’s Youth Conclave for Youth Ministers. The story may provide some helpful information for this disucssion. […]

  9. David Troublefield Says:

    Dee:

    Yes.

    As a matter-of-fact, our congregation’s ministry team hosted Dr. Jimmy Draper (then president of LifeWay, and a fellow Texan) for supper on Wednesday night during Sunday School Week at Glorieta in 2005. Doing so gave each of us an opportunity to tell Dr. Draper and another LifeWay staff member or two how effectively LifeWay either did or didn’t help us in our ministries. Our Minister to Young Singles at the time, Brady Sharp, told Dr. Draper that he (Brady) usually went elsewhere for resources or other needed assistance as LifeWay was practically of no use to his ministry to adults ages 18-24 and 25-34. Dr. Draper listened very kindly to Brady, then explained why LifeWay–and the SBC at the time–was of no more use to him than it was, then promptly went back to Nashville and did something about it apparently. Threads’ origins arise from that 2005 supper meeting, at least in part.

    I had a chance to tell that story to Threads’ Jason Hayes during Sunday School Week this year in July, so he’d understand where his role came from a couple of years ago as Threads was being developed: from the need of the local church for better resources from LifeWay for effective ministry to young singles.

    Stay with it; keep it useful.

  10. TheDeeZone Says:

    Threads is the first time in years I’ve seen Lifeway materials that I actually want to use.

  11. David Troublefield Says:

    Dee:

    As I understand it from Jason Hayes, that’s by design. Much survey/research work has gone into what will make the resources most relevant.

    However, the passing of time has a way of making things change; so, the research must continue. You can help–keep updating Jason, et al, about what assists you, and ones you know, the most (at Sunday School Week in July, LifeWay staff almost was begging participants to give their input so that helpful resources can be produced).

  12. David Troublefield Says:

    Hall:

    ;-)) Thanks for the advice. During the last 2 years, I’ve said essentially the same–including to BGCT staff who’ve seemed not to get it on their own.

    Christendom in the U.S. appears to need desperately both an evangelist and an educator: the evangelist to call professing believers back to the zeal which results from a personal encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and the educator to help believers understand practically in their cities what to do with the spiritual health God restores to them in true revival–else the evangelist’s ministry will be needed again in about 3 weeks (a cycle basically seen annually in traditional revival-hosting churches, and among those which have attended annual evangelism rallies; view ACP reports).

    Among BGCT Texas Baptists, the role of Local Church Evangelism Specialist (a vacancy which, unfortunately, went unfilled from June 2006 until recently), particularly, gets close to the educator part of this–except that 92% of the 26 tasks in the position’s job description are not directly consultative/educational on church campuses and 81% of those tasks are not directly church-level activities (nor can they easily be as there are 5000+ congregations for the position to relate to directly–by the specialist’s second formal performance evaluation, some real frustrations, overcome only by a re-write of the job description or re-organization of the staff, may have set in; as recently as May 31, the position wasn’t even to be filled during the remainder of 2008, but its salary was to be used to fund evangelism section projects which had been contracted). If BGCT Congregational Strategists are intended to aid educationally, it may make 10 fairly frustrated individuals instead of only one. Upcoming Engage meetings are meant to help by gathering lots of Texas Baptists to centralized locations across the state for evangelistic and educational experiences.

    To me, it sort of sounds as if the BGCT staff needs the assistance of churches’ staffs. I guess frequent bloggers here could say, “Hey, John–let us know if there’s anything our churches’ staffs can do to help you guys!” But isn’t that like the tail wagging the dog? As I see it: the BGCT exists only as a (huge) religious nonprofit organization provided by cooperating local Texas Baptist churches to themselves for the continued success of their evangelistic ministries to the world; through their CP contributions, those churches employ the convention’s staff members as the “most expert” folk they can find and afford to help equip the congregations for their works of service–and that that is the convention staff’s primary thing to do all day on each day. I think Baptists in years gone by knew that evangelizing Texas depends on it.

  13. TheDeeZone Says:

    David T: While I use Life Matters I really just use it for a ideas but write my own lesson.

  14. David Troublefield Says:

    Dee:

    I think your practice is common among Bible teachers/students–and wise. Making the lesson ones own helps to internalize its main points and makes sharing its truths easier, in my opinion. Other related Bible study materials also are available from LifeWay on a quarterly basis: Extra, Advanced Bible Study, Hershel Hobbs Commentary, Biblical Illustrator, Life Matters leader pack and leader guide. Each is fairly affordable (Extra can be accessed online at LifeWay’s website).

  15. TheDeeZone Says:

    David,

    I usually just use resources from our library. Both of my husband & I are graduates of SWBTS and have a fairly decent library.

  16. David Troublefield Says:

    Dee:

    That’s terrific! Best wishes for the ministries God has you doing now.

    David
    SWBTS ’93

  17. David Troublefield Says:

    Hall:

    ;-)) Thanks for the advice. During the last 2 years, I’ve said essentially the same–including to BGCT staff who’ve seemed not to get it on their own.

    Christendom in the U.S. appears to need desperately both an evangelist and an educator: the evangelist to call professing believers back to the zeal which results from a personal encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and the educator to help believers understand practically in their cities what to do with the spiritual health God restores to them in true revival–else the evangelist’s ministry will be needed again in about 3 weeks (a cycle basically seen annually in traditional revival-hosting churches, and among those which have attended annual evangelism rallies; view ACP reports).

    Among BGCT Texas Baptists, the role of Local Church Evangelism Specialist (a vacancy which, unfortunately, went unfilled from June 2006 until recently), particularly, gets close to the educator part of this–except that 92% of the 26 tasks in the position’s job description are not directly consultative/educational on church campuses and 81% of those tasks are not directly church-level activities (nor can they easily be as there are 5000+ congregations for the position to relate to directly–by the specialist’s second formal performance evaluation, some real frustrations, overcome only by a re-write of the job description or re-organization of the staff, may have set in; as recently as May 31, the position wasn’t even to be filled during the remainder of 2008, but its salary was to be used to fund evangelism section projects which had been contracted). If BGCT Congregational Strategists are intended to aid educationally, it may make 10 fairly frustrated individuals instead of only one. Upcoming Engage meetings are meant to help by gathering lots of Texas Baptists to centralized locations across the state for evangelistic and educational experiences.

    To me, it sort of sounds as if the BGCT staff needs the assistance of churches’ staffs. I guess frequent bloggers here could say, “Hey, John–let us know if there’s anything our churches’ staffs can do to help you guys!” But isn’t that like the tail wagging the dog? As I see it: the BGCT exists only as a (huge) religious nonprofit organization provided by cooperating local Texas Baptist churches to themselves for the continued success of their evangelistic ministries to the world; through their CP contributions, those churches employ the convention’s staff members as the “most expert” folk they can find and afford to help equip the congregations for their works of service–and that that is the convention staff’s primary thing to do all day on each day. I think Baptists in years gone by knew that evangelizing Texas depends on it.

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