Infighting. Politics. Apostasy. Extremism. Apathy. Sin. Power-plays. In some churches, it is easier to add a 4thperson to the Trinity than it is to change the color of the paint in the foyer. In our effort to be different, we sometimes have become weird, but worse yet, irrelevant. In some communities, if the Adventist church would disappear tomorrow, would it be missed?
The younger they are, the less they believe.
The first disturbing trend is that they younger generation, namely 18-29, has more agnostics in it than any previous generation. In fact, the percentage of people that described themselves as having no religion doubled in the past 10 years. Couple that with the Adventist church growing at 3% a year, it’s easy to see we have a problem, especially with the younger generation.
In North America, even though there are thousands of committed young Adventists that are living out their faith every day, the average age in a Adventist congregation is in the fifties and getting older. As I travel the country, I get to meet many people of different cultures, but I am more familiar with Hispanic Adventism. In most Hispanic churches, the membership is young, younger and youngest. This would tell me that the age percentage in an English speaking church might be even higher than 51. Somewhere along the way, we stopped being as effective in reaching the younger generation with an unchanging message. Some believe that just putting a drum set and singing a couple if praise songs will be the “it” factor. Others feel that we have to return to the “old ways”. While I believe that inspiring worship is a must, worship is more than just what you do one hour a week in a building. How do we become relevant, authentic and life changing to this generation and the next remains a baffling mystery to many congregations. We are called not to just hold on to what we have, but reach more people every day with this last days special message.
Most are retired now, but to hear them speak, you would think that they are ready to take on the Cuban army. I am sure the Castro brothers wet their pants at night thinking about the ever decreasing number of commandos that will, with their canes and hearing aids descend into Cuba and annoy the communist government by leaving their turn signals on. This last summer, this family member received a lifetime award. That’s right. A lifetime award. For what? He is never fired a single bullet!
I am afraid that scene is all too familiar. Not to discredit the older generation, for we are all heading that way, and they too have an important job to do, but what happens when they go to their sleep? Who will finance the church? Is the younger generation ready to step up in commitment to God’s church? Are we empowering the younger generation to take over or are we so caught up in ourselves we neglect to elect and deploy the “army of youth”?
Generation Age Percentage of agnostics Number in USA
Mosaic & Busters (18-41) 37% 34 million