What Will it Take to Reach the Next Generation

Last week I had to opportunity to speak at a high school baccalaureate service here in Adrian. There were 59 graduating seniors who attended out of the possible 60 students. Attendance was great but the overall interest was low. As I looked out over the crowd of teens I saw only three that attend our Church. I would guess there are another 5-6 that attend elsewhere. That means that out of 59 high school seniors only about 10 attend Church with any regularity. Honestly, that is above the national average.

From everything that I read, those students will go off to college and 7 or 8 of them will quit their faith by the time they graduate from there. By the best guess, of those 60 seniors that walked across the stage at commencement only 1 or 2 will have any kind of faith in Jesus throughout their twenty somethings.

Does that discourage you? Personally, it breaks my heart. Unfortunately I do not find many people in Church who really care about this generation of young people.

Here are a few things I have found to be true.

There is a general apathy about teens. Many people say, “Well, they are not my children.” Maybe for some it is “They are not my grandchildren.” There seems to be this attitude that if it does not immediately affect me then it is not important.

Youth group volunteers are rare. It seems no one wants to spend very much time and energy teaching our youth about the Bible and faith. It is hard to find people who are willing to help them in almost any capacity.

Change is very difficult. I wonder how many people in Church would be willing to make the radical changes it would take to reach the next generation. Would you be willing to make everything powered by technology? Would you be willing to change the length and format of worship? Would you be willing to change the style of music. (My children listen to hip-hop and rap). Would you be willing to sit at tables? Would you be willing to drop prayer requests or fellowship time? I can hear the people now saying, “But I like those things?” Truthfully, I agree. I like them too. But if it is not completely grounded in scripture would you be willing to change to reach our young people?

I worry about those teens who sat in that baccalaureate service. Most of them could be described with the word, “disinterested.” They have no interest in us, my question is do we really have an interest in them? I think the first step in reaching our youth is to care about them.

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