HolyCoast: Generation Y And The Church

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Generation Y And The Church

Fellow SoCal Blogger's Alliance member Bill Rice over at By Dawn's Early Light has an interesting post on a study recently conducted by the Brookings Institute on religion and Generation Y. If you're like me and are not sure when one generation stops and the next one starts, 1980 is the apparent beginning of the Gen Y folks.

I'm not going to try and restate the excellent work that Bill did in his post - go read it. However, I do have a few thoughts on the whole thing.

Stop and think for a moment about the world from the viewpoint of someone born in the 80's. My daughter was born in 1988, and things she takes for granted were miraculous inventions to us. To her the entire moon landing space program is as much ancient history as WWII was to me. Cell phones, home computers, satellite television, IPods, email, instant messaging, digital photography, CDs/DVDs/, the internet, among many other communication devices and methods, are normal, everyday things that they can't imagine doing without. Heck, when I was born there were no man-made satellites, the few computers that were around were as big as box cars and had less computing capacity than my cell phone, and the only kind of mail or messages we ever got was delivered by the postman (and back then they weren't crazy, either).

Back around 1970 I bought my dad a four function electronic calculator...for $50! Now we send our kids to school with calculators that cost $10 and can all but tell you the meaning of life. Our kids are growing up in an amazing time.

The Gen Y crowd is used to instant communication, and the church is going to have to deal with that. These folks are not much into tradition - they don't have the patience for it. That doesn't mean that traditional churches can't attract them, it just means they'll have a harder time doing it. Short attention spans and traditional worship services may not mix well.

All that being said, there's something about the power of Christ that transcends all the technical gizmos, and even Gen Y'rs come with a God-shaped void in their lives that can't be filled with gadgets and toys. The churches that can get their attention and show them how God's love can bring fulfillment to their busy lives will find their ministry to this younger age group very successful. Every church is going to have to try to connect, or else they will fade away as their congregation ages and is not replaced by younger folks.

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