Young people in the church?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by jwright82, Jan 18, 2011.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I understand that there is a crisis in the church of younger people not going to church. This problem becomes accute when we consider tithing and leadership, the current tithers and leaders will not be around forever. I have been disturbed by this fact recently and I was wondering is it really as bad as people say it is? As a twenty-something (28 actually) I have realized that my generation needs to wake up and train to be the teachers and leaders of tommorow, ironicoly an elder has asked me to be mentored by him to become eventually, maybe years, a teacher in the church. But my point is the same what do we do? That is my question, how are churches dealing with this problem if it is even a prblem at all?
  2. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thankfully, the church I attend has a handful of twenty-somethings who are faithful in attendance and participation....and know of others in local reformed reformed churches who are faithful as well. In an article written four years ago, there was a growing trend of young people becoming attracted to and involved in Calvinistic/reformed churches: Young, Restless, Reformed | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction. I'm assuming this trend has not disappeared, so perhaps your experience may not necessarily entail a greater trend. In terms of how a church deals with this problem, I would posit, is to provoke the 20-somethings to good works by preaching law and gospel and creating opportunities for service...One theory of mine is that 20-somethings may not always feel the need to be faithful in attendance or connected to the church if they are not given opportunities to serve (ie. teach Sunday School, evangelism, feeding poor, short-term missions, etc)...
  3. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Is this based on research of some kind? My own experience would suggest the opposite.
  4. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    I hate to say this, but this seems to be more of a problem in generic evangelicalism and more new school presbyterianism as opposed to confessionally-conservative reformed churches. I could be wrong, but it is an impression.
  5. Bald_Brother

    Bald_Brother Puritan Board Freshman

    You shouln't hate to say that at all. I won't speak for new school presbyterianism, but our church (a confessionally conservative Reformed Baptist congregation) has no problem with younger people regularly attending (by regularly, I mean at least every Sunday in which extenuating circumstances do not keep them away). I don't know the exact stats, but I would guess that our congregation (of about 200 or so) consists of maybe 65% 25 - 38 yr olds and their families. And, for the most part, it is that age range that has taken the reigns as the teachers under elder supervision. We kind of rotate teachers through teaching the children, adults, etc... (its kind of rare for a teacher to get locked in to teaching the same group for more than a month in a Sunday School or Mid-week teaching setting).
  6. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    The two reformed baptist congregations in my city are prospering in every way I can discern. We are practically sister churches, and both of our congregations show absolutely no sign of difficulty with attracting and maintaining young people who are serious about the faith. However, I really don't know the state of things with the young people in other local churches.
  7. Bald_Brother

    Bald_Brother Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, it appears that the Reformed Baptists have this "problem" locked down and solved! Anyone else? :D :worms:
  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Hey Bald Brother,

    I've been to your church several times now and love the vibrant worship there. I would point out that, while you all are confessionally conservative, you do have very good music (and including instruments) and you have overhead projection, nice facilities and good audio/video. You also seem to be in a growing suburb of Atlanta.

    Also, you have a number of elders that personally engage the people. Also, Butch has said to me before that he thinks of himself as a coach....he is training to prepare the team to go forth and win the game, rather than do all the work himself.

    Contrast that to several other supporting churches that I have.

    These other churches that identify themselves as Sovereign Grace Baptist or Reformed Baptist are declining. Several of these have old church signs, old facilities, they frown on any instrument besides the piano and sermonize on not only the dangers of the modern hymns but the dangers of the modern beats that go with those modern hymns (Rockdale using some of those modern sounds). Many of these declining churches are either single pastor-led or they do not seem to be intentionally preparing the laymen to minister, but are doing all the work themselveves.

    So, I don't think that the Sovereign Grace or the Reformed Baptists have this one locked down. Rockdale is an exceptional church that is attracting young people. Several other churches, however, have had significant numbers of younger people "defect" and/or go to more evangelical or else Acts 29 churches. Many of these "defectors" have told me that their main issues were: worship/music and more freedom versus a liturgy or a strict interpretation of "reverant" in worship, activism versus mere attendance, community and small groups versus barely knowing the other church members, and a positive tone versus preaching "against" stuff.
  9. Bald_Brother

    Bald_Brother Puritan Board Freshman

    Funny that you say that, because there is quite a bunch of us that would rather see a more liturgical type worship without moving away from the more contemprary music style (whilst limiting the overhead to lyric sheets only during service - as we do now). And, I happily say this: we have moved to a more strict adherence to the regulative principle and are beginning to integrate a responsive reading type thing (we do a memory passage weekly).

    The advantage, I think, that Rockdale has had over some of the declining churches is that it a young church (under 20 years) - and the leaders came from some of the dry and fundy (in the bad sense) SBC churches in need of reforming. For most, as we move more traditional without moving towards what some* might consider dry - the changes are in a sense, exciting.

    *(I say some, because personally, I like the old hymns and I wish we used the Psalter more - and I see advantage to responsive readings and responsive prayers)

    So, you had to pee in my cheerios, huh? Sheesh.
  10. Christopher88

    Christopher88 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Maybe in mainline churches, but in my church, this is not a problem. In the EPC church down the road, not a problem either.
  11. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Already when I was a teenager, and then in my college years and 20s, I was a part of churches that encouraged me to use my gifts and abilities in service to the church. Church leaders sought me out and gave me meaningful work to do. This still makes all the difference. Yes, "church shopping" and "do-it-yourself religion" have increased, but that's the fault of pandering churches as much as the culture. People don't really change as much as we might think from one generation to the next. They will support a church where they feel vested; where they're treated like part of the sales force rather than like customers.
  12. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    OK, I have several kids in this age range and another fast approaching. (Wow, do I feel old!) From a very broad perspective, more conservative churches can starve their young people while those churches that can be loosely defined as broadly-evangelical have taken an ego-centric approach.

    Often in youth and "career" groups, the emphasis is placed on fun. It's almost like the churches want young folks to remain in a prolonged state of adolescence. I think that is what has made the orthodox (Greek etc.) styles so appealing in recent years -- it shows a serious form of worship and conduct. (We have a college near us that attracts mostly very bright, home schooled students. For a few years this orthodox-style was definitely the trend as students selected churches, even if it was foreign to what they had had at home.)

    What I see in our church are young people who have been progressively encouraged to grow in their faith and knowledge of the Lord. They have a lot of fun together, but I'd place their doctrinal knowledge and practice as very substantial when compared to many adults. The OPC has a program to encourage young men to explore whether pastoral ministry is a possibility. I've been thinking the local churches might benefit from a similar program to let young people see where their talents fit and to encourage them to take on responsibility within the congregation, even if its not a specific office.

    On the other hand, "churches" that advertise, come-as-you-are, see-what-Jesus-can-do-for you, have lost the ballgame before it's even started;and they've lost it with the very people -- young, educated, perhaps urban folks -- that they're trying to reach. I think it was in England somewhere that a church of this type is meeting in a bar. How do you teach people to reject the world and to take on the suffering of Christ in that setting? Those with some substantial teaching in their background might find this appealing for a while, but interest has got to drop off without real feeding. The others? It's hard to imagine anyone coming to saving faith with such a me-centered approach. And if they do, they'll (I hope) move on to more substantial churches.
  13. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Wow that is a blessing to hear! I guess I was refering to broader evangelical churches, I just always hear that people in other churches. Maybe its just my area. My church seems ok but I just always hear that from people. That is good that confessional churchs are uneffected by this perception, I was just asking out of curiousity thats all.
  14. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    My church has old church signs, a really old and decrepit facility, traditional a capella music, a projector that we haul out on a makeshift stand for special occasions, a sound system that's held together with duct tape and coat hangers, and have only two elders.

    And yet our youth are thriving.

    We haven't been seeing a whole lot of new blood. (We're praying for some.) But those of us that are here are sticking it out obstinately, some more so than even their parents.
  15. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    To the anger and annoyance of many young people in the Free Church of Scotland, 'keeping young people in the church' was a reason stated at the assembly (and is still being stated since) to introduce hymn singing with instrumental accompaniment.
  16. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    A factor in the giving is that young folks are coming into the work force buried in debt. It's a structural problem.

    As far as membership, there are a lot of folks that don't come back until they have kids, but that isn't a particularly new development. If your church really is having problems with an aging membership, look to demographics - are you all in an aging part of town ( the PCA in the Ortega area)? - and whether you are sending out signals that singles aren't welcome.
  17. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It was also the same excuse used by many Presbyterians in this country to introduce them in our churches.
  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    "Honour thy father and thy mother." The answer is for children to learn their cultural values from their parents rather than their peers.
  19. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

  20. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    Pergamum, exactly.
  21. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    Our church family is 20 years old, average age of the membership 46 around 142 members or so,average family size 5, average age of children maybe 7 to 9 years old ,teens quite a group, young adults few due to marriages and moving away but a good core group remains which the teens will inlarge soon. Our young people come willingly and most are converted and doing well. I contribute this to the Gospel being faithfully preached, Sound Doctrine, a Sound Confession well taught systematically year after year, our Catechism being taught and most of all Parents,Husbands & Wives modeling the Faith as well as imparting it to the children in the home. The glory goes to GOD and His great goodness and grace to us In Christ. Spirit wrought Unity is a furtile soil to grow in.
  22. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I agree this book has good research in it and is a good wake-up call (one among many) to a serious problem. But I didn't care much for the solution it offered, which seemed mostly to involve apologetics for kids; teaching them arguments for a young earth and so on so they won't fall prey to "science."

    Okay. I suppose kids do need some of that. And those churches that have stopped teaching the historicity of Bible accounts surely need to mend their ways. But in the end, it is not nearly enough to win over kids' minds for creationism. The Bible must win over their hearts for Jesus.

    So I found this book somewhat lacking because it's long on defending creation but short on preaching the gospel of Jesus and teaching the doctrines of grace.
  23. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Jack: Yes, I don't believe that our kids should be pushed into being "little missionaries" in their public schools (actually what are they doing in public schools anyhow)..... and yes, I agree, that our focus is on Christ not on memorizing arguments as to why carbon-14 dating gives unreliable readings if their was a fog mist over the canopy of the earth in the early days, etc.
  24. Jim-Bob

    Jim-Bob Puritan Board Freshman

    Already Gone (mentioned below) summarizes the statistics well. Praise God that some churches are doing well, but it appears that this is a crisis for many, even confessional churches.

    In economically depressed areas, young people are moving away.

    Many young people are postponing marriage or foregoing marriage altogether. Couples with children are spending many weekends traveling to soccer and dance competitions.

    More employers are demanding work on Sunday. Suburbanization and long commutes mean traditions like Midweek and Sunday Evening services are dropping by the wayside.

    We've seen fundamental changes in how learning is delivered and how we interact, With podcasts, people do not need to wait to Sunday in order to hear a good sermon. People don't need to go to a church to help the poor - there's an app for that.

    I wish I had an easy answer (teach more creationism, make music more hip, serve Starbucks in the narthex) . I do believe campus ministries are more essential than ever, and congregations need to show honest love and concern for all ages. May the Holy Spirit stir up folks to gather together!
  25. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I read this a while back and it agrees with my experience: If We Don’t Do X The Young People Will Leave « Heidelblog

  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, it seems to be that what is done at home is the biggest factor in what happens at church. If parents out-source their teaching to others (Sunday school teachers, etc) than the kids are "already gone" as the book title above illustrates.
  27. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I'd say that observation is largely correct. When a church is dead to the gospel, the music often gets blamed. But it really isn't the music that's the problem, and changing it won't solve the problem.

    But being more "confessional" isn't always the answer, either. I've seen "confessional" churches that are dead to the gospel too, usually because they get caught up in we're-right-ism. Being right is both good and helpful, but it must result in the focus turning away from self-congratulation and toward "the unsearchable riches of Christ."


    I agree with Pergamum that what happens at home is a huge factor. Interestingly, I have yet to see a major study that examines this. They all seem to ask kids about their church experience, not their spiritual experience in the home.
  28. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    In our society, it is everyone else's fault when young people do the wrong thing. The Bible teaches otherwise.

    Pro 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
  29. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I'm not sure about that. Plenty of Christian parents gripe about their rebellious teenagers, but they never read them Scripture or prayed with them or catechized them, and they allowed them to be heavily influenced by secular culture, and yet it's always the fault of this generation, never the parents who neglected these things.
  30. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I wasn't talking about 'teenagers'. I was talking about young adults who allegedly leave churches. I agree, that parents of teenagers still living at home are accountable for leading them spiritually.

    When I left home I also left the church. My mother raised me in the church and even served as the church youth group leader. I don't blame her or the church for my choice to go my own way.
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