Unfortunately, I have noticed a trend in the American churches; A tale of two churches:
- Traditional Churches--On one-hand you have those churches that used to be strong a few decades ago but have begun to sputter. They are trying to reclaim the fire they once had but doing it by using methods that worked in the 1980s. These churches are dying out because they aren’t attracting the next generation and can’t figure out why Millennials and Gen-Z doesn’t want to come to “Revival Weekend.” Don't get me wrong, I love a traditional country church and they aren't all doing it wrong. But we can't stick to "what we've always done" and think we can reach the next generation.
- Hipster Churches--On the other-hand we have a new generation of churches started by Millennials for “those who don’t like church.” That is, they are rejecting (right or wrong) the churches of their parents but not rejecting faith in Christ. Regrettably, some of these churches have taken on the entertainment methodology. The proof is in the pudding here. Research groups like The Barna Group have shown there is no lasting impact with this because it lacks substance. I'm not against having a good praise band or coffee shops in the foyer. I am against fluffy entertainment based churches who lack substance and never challenge their people with the commands of Scripture.
So what do we do? If we can’t just stick to “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and we can’t attract the next generation through flashy entertainment, then how do we reach them for Jesus?!?! I’m glad you asked. The Bible says, “in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Prov. 24:6b) and “a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5b). Therefore, we need to seek wisdom from those who are actually and legitimately reaching the next generation. This is where the new book So The Next Generation Will Know by J. Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell hits a home run.
It only took me two days to read this book because I couldn’t put it down. I have a Bachelor’s degree from a Christian college, I’ve read A LOT of books, I have many years of ministry experience and I cannot think of a better resource to show a person the pathway to reach the next generation. I felt like every page either had me shouting “AMEN” or had my mind racing with new ideas to try in my own ministry.
J. Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell back up their propositions with statistics from legitimate research groups and honest investigative fact-finding. Most importantly, in my humble opinion, is that these guys have actual experience (good and bad) that has tested different methods to determine not only what works but what is Biblical.
Some books you read once and stick on a shelf. This book is one you read, highlight, write notes, and set aside so you can reference it again. Let me share with you some gems I found in the book:
- The next generation of believers faces spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and moral challenges like no prior group of believers. If you want to know why, read the book.
- The challenge to make relationships as important as teaching. As they stated in the book, this is the Biblical model (1 Thess. 2:8).
- The section listing out 13 characteristics of Millennials/Gen-Z was one of my absolute favorites. If you wonder why you don’t seem to “get” young people, then you need this section.
- A concept from the book I will take into my ministry is Don’t just Teach but Train. I love the challenge and ideas given on how to “Train towards a challenge.” This section is absolute gold if the church is going to be relevant to the next generation.
If I listed out everything I liked about the book, we would be here for a long time. Do yourself a favor. Get the book and read it NOW!!!