Will we lose an entire generation plus the next generation?
I attended a two-room school in a Nebraska farm town. Fantastic!
Farms were small. Families abundant.
The generations before me sacrificed for that opportunity. I’m deeply thankful!
I had the same teacher for five years in a row, Mr. Walter Brase.
The first time I told my kids, they thought…repeat…repeat…repeat….
No, it was 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th…all in the same classroom.
That was then. Now… Farms are bigger. Families fewer. Children scarcer. The school is closed. It rightly celebrated an enormously fruitful season completed. A necessary ending.
Small town Lutheran schools are not the only things that have changed.
Today, most emerging adults no longer populate our churches! Their kids aren’t even around to engage in the simplest of rhythms of faith formation! They’re just gone!
And I’m confused by the muffled cry. Where are the sirens and bells and whistles going off across the entire church, screaming for change and courage and begging that we not lose an entire generation of emerging adults plus the next generation of their children?
They see our churches as irrelevant forts…ride in, ride out…. The stuff that happens inside our forts is viewed as having no value or being potentially harmful.
Institutions in general are mistrusted by emerging adults. Our churches are no different.
Count 60% of the community around your fort. Count more among emerging adults that mark the “irrelevant” box beside church forts in general.
Many of us as leaders shoulder guilt and carry frustration for attempted efforts to get them in the fort. For most of them, walking into our churches feels like walking in after a Haiti earthquake. It’s unsafe and unpredictable.
So take a look around your church this week. Ask the ushers to count the number of adults below the age of 35. In most churches they’re mostly gone. If your counting gets past one or two hands of fingers, then just know it’s tremendously better at your place than most.
In my own denomination, there are almost 4 pastors age 55-65 for every 1 pastor age 25-35.
Is anyone going to see the crisis in reaching emerging adults or telling the story of Jesus to their kids?
PLI believes it takes leaders…
- riding outside their forts and demonstrating compassion.
- Inviting people into community.
- Representing Jesus and His life, death and resurrection.
- Multiplying and discipling more leaders to do the same.
It’s not complex! It’s not a journey by yourself. It’s seeing the world through a different lens! And, it’s not quick, so start now.
My parents and grandparents and their generations sacrificed enormously for that two-room school. The sacrifice today is a willingness to act once you have the courage to look through a different lens.
So what if, rather than waiting for “them” to come in, we disciple “us” to go out in 2017 America? And what if we demonstrate compassion like Jesus did? And what if, outside our churches, we created communities where we could represent Jesus to the hearts of a chaotic world?
No magic bullet! Nor, no surrendered resignation!
Arik and Tina see the world through a different lens.
So, if you want to be bold…
- Pick out 3 or 4 leaders in your congregation. Ask them to listen to Arik and Tina. Ask them to join their Missional Leader ranks. Ask Raechel to email information.
- Have a Necessary Endings conversation with your leaders and risk Venturing into the Muddled Middle Ground. Lead together.
- Ask the Ushers to count the 25-35 crowd this Sunday. (They’re mostly gone in most churches!) Report it and say: “So, what do you want to do about it?”
PLI would welcome being your partner.
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken