Comments 7

  1. My work with business over the years has partially focused on succession planning and building up leaders. One of the things I often say is that it may look different and we have to be ok with that. I refocus leaders on creating clear mission and vision.

    The Bible is pretty clear in mission and vision. Worship God only and tell others about him.

    At HOME we often say who are you training to replace you? Not so that we can become lazy but so that we can continue to empower others to be active and step into their God given calling. How do we create a church culture that is fluid enough to focus on the triune God and not primarily on our personal preferences?

    Would love to continue to follow your research and dialogue further.

  2. Church will look very very different 20 years from now; and concretely – the whole concept of “worship service,” “sunday school,” “sermon” will be as foreign to most Christians as they already are, like stunbling upon a person playing music on a CD player or watching a movie on VHS.

    Those congregations that don’t innovate or listen to the current generation will – as the data does show – cease to exist. It’s a time to be bold and lean into the future for sure!

  3. Thanks, Aaron, for this post as well as the semester’s worth of wrestling with this issue alongside the Dordt community. Probably not coincidentally, the next email I read today was from Barna entitled Responding to the Church’s Image Problem. Taken together, they remind me of the power of invitation. Invitation into God’s great story, allowing us to see this story and then live this story. We tend to prescribe things to youth, albeit necessary sometimes. I wonder what might happen if we changed our posture to a more invitational one? Again, my deep appreciation for your work.

  4. I appreciate the work and research and insight, Aaron. I wonder, though, if you considered (or could in future) an option that had something to do with obedience or refusal to submit to biblical morality. Something like “I live a lifestyle the church wouldn’t accept” or “I don’t accept the Bible’s moral framework”. In my experience, a lot of the Gen Z, and the one above them, who grew up in church and leave it, do so at least in part b/c they know they’ve chosen a path the church won’t/can’t endorse.

    1. I am 28 years old and I have been fascinated by the countless “de-conversion” stories around me. This article mentions the point that the previous generation has put this down to us being disloyal or unwilling to submit to something, while in some cases this is true and in a few cases with friends I’ve listened to, the issue of a more liberal worldview comes in to play a little but the overwhelming number of young adults leaving the church today are not leaving Jesus, no one I have talked with has mentioned any issue with Jesus, only an issue with his followers, that they don’t feel they can be real and honest around other Christians because people are so committed to putting up a front and enforcing countless laws and regulations, there is no freedom in the church because of this.

      These people are still drawn to Jesus because he was the one who sat and ate with prostitutes and tax collectors and the poor and he did not make them feel like projects. He made them feel valuable, loved, maybe for the first time in their lives. Its way too easy to be popular or famous in the church culture today, I think in our grasping effort to keep up appearances and be above reproach may be exactly what is driving people away. Because we are not like that, we all still struggle with doing things we don’t want to do and we all have questions and doubts with which there is nothing we can do because there are certain questions and doubts that are deemed unacceptable in the church.

      I’m not saying that leaving the institutional church is the answer in fact for many of these people, church is still happening in some coffee shops, living rooms and bars, but many of us have been hurt and uncared for, humanness just isn’t well enough respected for a group of people who follow an incarnated Christ.

      1. I have seen the same. Others’ presumption that there is some moral defect to blame says a great deal. “Unwillingness to submit to biblical morality” never inhibited Jesus’s associations, nor has it ever been a position in historic Christianity that some level of agreement (and actual adherence to) ‘the rules’ is a requirement for membership, or for faith. Indeed, when churches behave as legalistic cults and special interest membership clubs, the faithful path is outside — as Luther well knew. What we see today is a fragmentation of churches into over-articulated, highly politicized enclaves debating what is biblical and essential, but what this tends to me is that the culture wars frame the narrative of Christian identity and set the litmus tests for membership. Christians who may agree with the most legalistic and rigorous notions of biblical morality still may balk at churches and other organizations that obsess over particular sins and aspects of life with a prurient, purge-oriented zeal.

  5. I agree that Rivkah has hit the problem straight on. The whole idea of church dissolving is found in the idea that there is so much hypocrisy. It is as though all the words are crafted to look and sound like Jesus, but when you overlay it on the people who fill these churches, its just a lot of wounding that happens. I always hear the argument, “we are just sinners saved by grace,” and “no one is perfect,” my response is always yes, but integrity!! Why is integrity something that is often shelved instead of an honesty that admits mistakes, but brings in the message of the gospel to play over those mistakes so that people get to experience the word of God in their life in real time, and not just talk about how awesome it could be if it were. People of all ages are done being in a building that only reflects God in theory. Many Jesus loving people are finding Jesus in coffee shop church, or home church or online church where one does not have to sift through the very unusual dynamic of people coming together to learn and love on Jesus, while the reality is that its not a safe group of people. Being perfect does not equate safety. People sinning is reality, but it only works when or if congregations actually live by the Words of God and exercise them as a way of life-not let imperfections dictate the tone. The whole idea that people are judged as the problem isn’t even biblical, since the Bible says our battles are not flesh and blood, but against the spiritual darkness of this age. So the sooner the Church really commits to living out Gods word-being honest, applying Gods ways in the places where hard is happening, and being a people who reflect Jesus deeply-then we will begin to see people attracted to Jesus once again. The real Spirit of Christ always attracts people, but hypocrisy no so much.

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