Lately I have been thinking a lot about some disturbing trends that are taking place in the American church. Here are a few observations I have made. I admit I have over-generalized some of the issues and have made arguments that have holes in them, but the main points are of concern to me and I think they should be of the church at large.
We are losing weight in the middle.
That is great physically but I am concerned about the absence of the middle aged adults who used to attend our churches. We hear a lot about not reaching the younger crowd–especially students going off to college. I contend that the issues with the students is often a reflection of their parents lack of commitment as well. Many churches today have young couples with preschoolers and children coming in and also have a large group of senior adults. The absent group are those empty-nesters whose kids have left, and now Mom and Dad have the freedom to be away on the weekends. Most of these folks love the Lord and the church, but are not as passionate about being there every week. In fact, once a month is enough for most. The church has to figure out a way to reconnect with those in the middle parts of life.
We are chasing our kids.
Many parents are going to church wherever their kid wants to go. That has produced a cafeteria style commitment to the local church. If a child wants to go over here where their friends go, parents uproot and move with them. A few months later when the group of friends have changed, parents move again. When I was growing up, it didn’t matter where my friends went to church. As a family, we went together under the leadership of Dad (and Mom). It is important that the entire family is able to fit in, but we must be careful when we chase the moment too much.
We are about to lose two valuable assets.
Speaking of family, the older population of most church families is rapidly dying off. My church has hosted over 35 funerals in 2011. With the passing of our seniors, we lose two very important things.
First, we need the wisdom of our seniors and the spiritual maturity they have to offer–especially to young families. As they die off, their wisdom goes with them.
We also need their money. Yep, I said it. It is no secret that most churches are living off of the giving of their senior adults. With so many young couples drowning in debt, ministry will greatly suffer when the current senior adults are gone. Seniors must truly think about planned giving/estate planning. The church is going to need them even after they are gone.
As the “Greatest Generation” passes on, there is much more that is lost. However, the loss of wisdom and resources is tremendous and is a disturbing trend that is hard to remedy.
In my next post, I am going to list more disturbing trends that I see. What are your thoughts? What trends disturb you?