How Gen X could save the church
In the last seven years, the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percent. Between 2007 and 2014, the Christian (those who identified with groups such as Protestants, Catholics, Mormons and others) share of the population fell from 78.4% to 70.6%, driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. (Pew Research Group) Millennials are exiting the church, but they are not alone in their departure. The article states, “While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages.”
As a member of Gen X, I feel that we can make a difference in changing this statistic (apparently, Millennials aren’t the only ones who can be idealistic!). We cansave the church. But what does that really mean?
Let me clarify: I am not interested in resurrecting the Moral Majority, with its endless cultural wars. I am not willing to fight for a mega-church movement promoting personality preachers and satellite campuses. I am not working for the “professional” church, replete with business-minded mission statements and well-polished presentations. These might be the attributes of the Western church which might have to go in order for Christianity to thrive.
Change will be hard because those things are the only church that many Christians have ever known. But I am hopeful that we can save our society’s belief in a spiritual community – a community that is both authentic and healthy. I will fight for the essential tenets of the body of Christ, including communal worship, evangelism, discipling of believers, and showing care and compassion for our neighbors. In order to preserve these sacred truths, it will take the entire body of believers. All of us will need to play a role – Boomers, Millennials, and Gen X.
Unfortunately, the gap between Millennials and the rest of the church is growing wider. In order reach Millennials, changes will have to be made; those that reflect our evolving culture, and yet hold onto Christianity’s core beliefs. To facilitate these changes, we will need to be led by generational mediators who are able to understand each side, translate effectively, and build bridges within the church.
I believe that my generation is able to link the Millennials and Baby Boomers, to unify the church and bring it a new energy and vitality. Gen X could save the church through generational mediation by:
- Seeking to understand the different generations represented.
- Translating during misunderstandings; helping each grasp the other’s point of view.
- Building bridges towards our common ground.
This is a call to my generation to Step Up. We should no longer sit back in apathy, be shamed into silence, or wallow in feelings of helplessness. Let’s step up, and do something.
We will pray for the power of the Spirit to guide us.
We will envision a church without the walls of ageism.
We will step forward by faith to lead, with the glory of Jesus as our banner.
We are ready.
Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit that seeks to equip parents and churches to minister to emerging adults. David and Rachel have been blessed with three energetic boys – Josiah, Andrew, and Tobias.
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