I have had the privilege of traveling all over the world and visiting more churches then I can remember. In fact when I was in Bible College I joined choir and we were blessed to be able to travel every weekend to sing in a different church. I got to see and experience a LOT of different ministry styles. One thing that often stuck out to me in a lot of “older churches” we visited was the lack of young people. I would look out across the congregation as we were on the stage and I wouldn’t see any young faces. Only older believers. I started to realize that in just a few short years these churches would die off. Not because of a lack of love for the Lord but simply because everyone in them was pushing hard against heavens gates (if you will) and in just a few short years the people would die off and their would be no younger generation there to take the reigns. They failed to pass the baton. In fact, I notice that often is the reality. Churches and people get (quote) stuck in their ways and are not willing to change and adapt to reach a new and changing younger generation. Now I am not suggesting the message change (the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ) but maybe the methods by which we get that message out.
I remember being highly involved in a church when I was younger and the ongoing SHARP debate revolved around the question: are going to allow acoustic guitar in the worship or are we going to switch from pews to chairs? It shocked me how difficult it was for the church to change for the sake of reaching out and adapting to the rapidly evolving culture around them. And the result was the youth of the church disappeared almost totally. The older generation was comfortable with their pews, piano and hymns and they demanded that the youth conform to their (the older people’s) definition of what an honoring church service should look like.
Well, times have certainly changed exponentially since then and the culture is evolving faster then ever before. And there is great opportunity for Satan to drive and even bigger wedge between the older and younger generations. The scary reality is that the younger generation today needs the godly influence of the older generation more then ever before.
I desire to send a message of encouragement to the older generation to be willing to step out and reach into the lives of the younger people around them. Learn the things that are influencing their lives. Things like Facebook and Twitter. And don’t be scare to meet them on those levels for the sake of the Gospel.
In missions we talk a lot about cross cultural evangelism and the importance of learning the culture and the language of the people you are seeking to reach so that you can present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the clearest manner possible. Well, the same principles need to apply in cross generational evangelism. Older believers need to become learners themselves for the sake of reaching the younger. Just as a missionary in Africa learns the culture of the tribal village in order to bring the Gospel to light before the people.
We need to not be afraid of change. We can’t be afraid to change the way we “do church” and conduct ministries. There is a cyber generation that is up-and-coming that we will completely lose if we don’t make a conscience effort to step out of our comfort zone and reach them now. I wanted to give you some statistics that shocked this reality even further into my mind. I am not saying that these statistics are good or bad… they are just the reality.
In the last year 17% of couples who married met on a dating site
1 in 5 singles have dated someone they met on a dating site
An estimated 50% of American’s have smartphones
There are 31 billion searches on Google every month
In 2006 it was only 2.7 billion
It’s estimated that there are over 6 billion text messages sent per-day. More then the population of the earth.
The average teen sends/receives about 3,300 text messages per-month
There are more then 800 million users on Facebook
50% of those users log on at least every day
Twitter just released that it now has over 100 million users
If Facebook and Twitter were a country… it would be the third largest population in the world
We are living in exponential times. The rapid pace of change is staggering. But the possibility for the Gospel to launch into places we could never reach in person is amazing. Let’s not miss this opportunity to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the young and meet them where they are. But let’s not stop there let’s continue with a vision to take it even further. Don’t be afraid to learn and grow and step out into new missions fields for the sake of the Gospel.
Lastly, I want to reiterate one more time – the message never needs to change. As the Apostle Paul declared, “Preach the Word!” Never shun to harold the whole Gospel. And never try to “redefine” it. Just bring that message to where it needs to be brought.