Ministry in a whole new world
Twenty years ago when we started Crossroads Church, our goal was to create a church that unreached people would want to attend and in the process be transformed by Christ. So, we spent a lot of time and resources on developing an engaging worship experience and a welcoming atmosphere. Crossroads continued growth would indicate we were fairly successful at meeting that goal.
Now, 20 years later, not only has my hair line changed, so have the perspectives of unreached people. 20 years ago about 75% of unreached people were open to an invitation to a relevant worship service if invited by a friend. Today, that number has fallen to around 40%. Yes there are still many people who will respond to an invitation to worship, but an increasing number, maybe even more than 60%, will not. It doesn’t matter how excellent the music is, how inspiring the message, or appealing the kids ministry – that 60% aren’t coming. In order to reach an increasingly secular society, churches once again need to change their approach or risk vanishing, like the Church of England may do. “Religion Today Summaries” reports:
“The Church of England’s quickly aging congregations means the denomination will be almost extinct in 2020 unless something is done to attract young people back to the church. … Rev. Dr. Patrick Richmond says. “2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage, that is people dying… Another 10 years on, some extrapolations put the Church of England as no longer functionally extant at all.” According to the UK Telegraph, other Synod members compared the church’s direction to a company’s “perfectly and impeccably manage[d] into failure.”
The answer is not to try to attract young people to church, the answer is for the church to reactivate its mission and send its members out daily to offer Christ to a dying world. This will look a lot different than starting a worship band or running cool videos (neither of which are wrong). The 60% (much higher in the U.K) are not coming; we need to be going to them. That means unconventional but effective disciple-making in neighborhoods and workplaces. I’ll say more on that in my next blog.