No one I know still uses an eight-track tape player or cassette tapes to listen to their music. In fact, very few even use compact discs. Today we download or stream our music over a portable device. The tape, the vinyl, and the disc are all old methods.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 145:4, “Each generation will announce to the next your wonderful and powerful deeds.” I’ve been announcing His wonderful and powerful deeds to the next generation my entire adult life. The methods I’ve used have changed time and time again, but the mission has remained the same. Now I’m pursuing Millennials and Gen Z, and there are over 145 million of them in the U.S today. Recent studies show the percentage of Christians in North America is declining with each new generation. A report from George Barna reveals 13% of Gen Z are atheists. This is twice as many as their parents.
Can you see the urgent need before us? Do you understand that every new generation is an unreached generation? To pursue and reach them we must first understand them, and then be willing to rethink our methods, but never our mission.
Over the years I have landed on four words to characterize the Next Generation. Those words are…
Experiential, Participatory, Community, and Informational. Based on these four characteristics, I would like to suggest four areas the church should rethink to better pursue the next generation.
ReThink #1 - Because they are experiential in nature and looking for mentors who will partner with them to help them move towards maturity. The church should think about shifting from just providing traditional Sunday Services, to creating church experiences outside the sanctuary. I believe the church needs to intentionally create environments connecting older generations with younger generations.
ReThink #2 - Because they desire to participate and be part of something they believe in, something with a bigger purpose. The church should rethink our methods of teaching, discipling and top-down leadership, and offer purposeful and participatory ministry. A church who discovers ways to let the young participate in the life of the church will see their church grow younger and larger.
ReThink #3 -Because they highly value community and view the church as a family to belong to, rather than a building to go to. The church should think about how to become more like a family and less like a congregation. The more a church can provide authentic community, the more effective we’ll be at reaching the next generation.
I will share my fourth Re-Think next time, but I hope this information will compel us all to pray more, seek to better understand, and rethink our methods but never the mission.