Thursday, May 13, 2010

The World We Are Trying to Reach

Ed Stetzer, from Lifeway Research, has some new research out about the priorities of the millennials (those born between 1980 and 1991). You can read Stetzer here, or the Christian Post article to which he refers here.

Here’s what’s interesting to me. Only 13% of millennials say that religion or spirituality is their top priority. My guess is that’s probably not actually different than past generations, though I have no numbers to demonstrate that.

My guess is tied to the fact that very few people, on any given week, practice any actual religion or follow any actual spiritual practices in any substantive way.

For decades, we have seen attendance and involvement in all kinds of churches decline. So this study simply puts a number on a fact that we all already know: the people we are trying to reach simply are not that interested in religion and spirituality as a top priority in their life.

Does that affect the way we do ministry? I think it does.

How? I will tell you later.

By the way, 61% say family is the top priority. Again, that is a number placed on a fact that we already know. How many people do we here claiming that their priorities place family over church, with the result that church worship and involvement takes a back seat to family issues.

I know that opens a huge can of worms from which, honestly, some very dumb arguments are made.

Does that affect the way we do ministry? I think it does.

How? I will tell you later, much later, when the danger of being killed for my beliefs is less.

But in a nutshell, let me put it this way: I think the idea that a father leads his family to miss church for a Sunday for a “family day” at the lake or beach or whatever, rather than missing work on a Friday for that family day so that they can be in church on Sunday speaks volumes to actual priorities. 

Or the idea that a family misses midweek Bible teaching because it’s the night of the week they have together after shopping, ball games, and homework, speaks equally loudly.

And we need to think very seriously about what it says.

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