“When that generation too had been gathered to its fathers, another generation followed it which knew neither Yahweh nor the deeds that he had done for the sake of Israel.” They had forgotten. Judges 2:10
Where have all the children gone? This is the question being asked by most church leaders in this season of history. Unlike the generations of faithful masses that have frequented traditional churches looking to find God, the younger generations, the Generation Xers and Millennials, are on the whole nowhere to be found. Thus, the question entrusted to today’s pastor and lay leader is this. Where have they gone and how might the church reengage and welcome them into faith community once again.
I had coffee with a community leader the other day and our conversation turned to this topic. He shared with me some interesting insights that the greying church would do well to consider. He said, “The younger generations do not need the church to find God. In fact, many believe that God is much easier to find in nature, art, music or philosophy than in the traditional church. The younger generations no longer need the church for community. They find friendships at the office, at the gym, in their yoga community or online. The younger generations require legitimate faith to be connected to a cause that makes the world a better place.
The church must embrace the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the refugee, the outsider, the LGBTQ community, the lonely, the weary, the addicted, the depressed and the hopeless. We embrace, not for the purpose of conversion or membership, but because of love and an eagerness to see God’s just kingdom here as it is in heaven. That is the church that will welcome these younger generations. That is the church that proves its faith authentic and worthy of a hearing in the public square. I would suggest that is the church Jesus envisioned from the beginning.