Mission Field: North America

imprrh@gmail.com —  March 27, 2013

Our largest mission field is North-America. But, can we reach them?

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?



While we are fighting amongst ourselves, with our FUBU brand of Christianity (For Us By Us), the world around us is rapidly changing.  The book Unchristian, points out some very disturbing trends.  Done by the Barna group, this study brings to light some troubling perceptions of Christianity in America.  I understand that the study was not exclusive to Adventism, but some of the results should be looked at very carefully, because they could very well apply to the church we all love.
Disturbing Findings

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.

 A close family member, who is in his early 70’s, has a passion and desire to see Cuba be free from communism.  When he was a young soldier, more than 40 years ago, he was hours from getting on a plane and parachuting into Cuba to support the Bay of Pigs invasion, which failed miserably.  Since that time, a group of hundreds, maybe thousands of Cuban Resistance Fighters, have trained regularly in the humid swamps of south Florida, waiting for the day that the invasion finally happens and Cuba is free again.  There is only one problem.  There is a lot of training, over 40 years worth of it, but no actual combat.  It’s kind of funny (although I won’t tell him that) to see them getting together every year to talk about their plan, have strategy sessions and share the latest news about the war no one is fighting. 

 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”?

The following percentages are worrisome and should be in themselves a wake-up call.

Generation                 Age                  Percentage of agnostics        Number in USA

Mosaic & Busters       (18-41)            37%                                         34 million

Mosaic & Busters       (16-29)             40%                                        24 million  
Boomers                     (42-60)            27%                                         21 million
Elders                         (61+)                23%                                         12 million
Our largest mission field is North-America! What will you do?


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