When it comes to American churches, baby boomers are scratching their heads trying to understand why their pews and traditional lingo are failing to please the eyes and ears of millennials (young adults born between 1981-1996).
Karl Vaters of Christian Today classifies himself as a baby boomer and acknowledges that this often perplexing group is hard for his generation to find a way to mix with.
“Now come the Millennials. With Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and more all literally in the palm of (their) hands, the idea of limited choices is a thing of the past. It’s every option at all times. Which makes categorizing this generation not just impossible, but foolhardy.The one-size-fits-all, homogeneous generation is over. But it really only existed for 50 years anyway. From about 1945 to 1995. We don’t have a name for any generation before the Builders because, without mass media, people were identified ethnically and regionally, not generationally.”
So the consumption of all things social media has perked up a new movement away from the church. According to the Barna Group, “The Priorities, Challenges, and Trends in Youth Ministry” research release, “nearly six in ten (59%) young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away, and the unchurched segment among Millennials has increased in the last decade from 44% to 52%, mirroring a larger cultural trend away from churchgoing in America. When asked what has helped their faith grow, ‘church’ does not make even the top 10 factors.”
But the sea of lines to get in some across urban communities like New York City present the opposite.
Give yourself some extra time to make it to church today. Due to last night’s events in Chelsea there are traffic delays: – 23rd street closed to traffic – ACE / 123 trains do not stop there. Praying for all those affected. ____ MIDTOWN: PlayStation Theater 1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10AM, 12:30PM, 5PM, 7:30PM ____ DOWNTOWN: Irving Plaza 17 Irving Pl, New York, NY 11AM, 5PM, 7:30PM ____ MONTCLAIR: The Wellmont Theater 5 Seymour St, Montclair, NJ 10AM
One example is C3 Brooklyn, a location that is using the new mediums of communication to reach and engage American urban youth.
This relatively new church just opened up its third location in Soho and it paints the picture that engaging generation Yer’s is easy.
“We can find the beauty and love of God in everything. His voice is in the sunrise and sunset, in the pages of our Bibles or in the whisper of the wind. God is there for us in every situation, and this is the eternal purpose of our lives: to love God and love people and to direct people to Christ by the lives we live.” @brianbrister . This past Sunday, we celebrating becoming 1 church, 3 locations with the launch of Downtown! Pastor @jkelsey gave a powerful message on God’s eternal purpose in our lives and how faith propels us confidently forward as we rely on the unseen instead of the seen. Visit link in bio to read Brian’s Reflection on the excitement, expectation and impact of Sunday’s service. . #c3bklyn #reflectiøns #møtel
Another example is the global church Hillsong, which is run by senior pastor Brian Houston.
The young spirit of this baby boomer has led Hillsong to grow into a thriving church with a college, a world famous band (with a movie) and locations all over the world including New York City and Los Angeles.
Yet these two media centric spiritual homes differ from what Rachel Held Evans a blogger and author of “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church,” said is the solution to the problem that older churches are struggling to find the answer too.
Saying that baby boomers should stop trying to be on trend and just be their normal self and have their church be the same.
A truth that many millennials try to live by.
Evans cited a study released a couple of years ago that said, “recent research from Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network found that 67 percent of millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77 percent would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.” While we have yet to warm to the word “traditional” (only 40 percent favor it over “modern”), millennials exhibit an increasing aversion to exclusive, closed-minded religious communities masquerading as the hip new places in town. For a generation bombarded with advertising and sales pitches, and for whom the charge of “inauthentic” is as cutting an insult as any, church rebranding efforts can actually backfire, especially when young people sense that there is more emphasis on marketing Jesus than actually following Him. Millennials “are not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion.”