In last few months, I had several conversations with Indian Pastors/Christian leaders from various denominations in different cities (none of them know each other, I think) and interesting they all raised a common concern – “The Next Generation is dropping out of church – what can we do? A generation who had grown right within these walls, who went to our sunday schools and youth fellowship and even got married here, now is not interested in the church anymore?”
Having authored a book on this generation, they feel I should dole out some quick fixes. Of course, I have raised such issues in the book and analyzed several ofthe underlying reasons at length. So my quick response was ‘have you read the coconut generation book?’
I am glad these leaders have taken note of changing happening in their congregations. Many others are clueless and think everything is status quo. Or at least pretend to be so. Few years ago, a pujari in a Hindu temple asked me a similar question – ‘Indian kids don’t come to temple… they are not as religious as their parents. What do you guys do in church to retain the young people.’
So first of all this is not any church or denominational issue. It is not even any problem with imigrants faiths. It is not a matter of language or doctrine or rituals or organizational set up. Faith and its expressions are undergoing several fundamental shifts in the Western world. When asked by Leadership Journal about challenges facing the Western church today, Tom Sine (author of Mustard Seed Revolution) said,
“The Western church is losing twenty- and thirty-somethings at an unprecedented rate, even while there’s a growing spiritual hunger among those groups. This is going to lead to a financial crisis for the church and mission as baby boomers start retiring. Because they are strapped with much higher school and housing costs, the few young people left in the church won’t have the discretionary income that their parents or grandparents had to sustain the church. At the same time, the average American is working roughly 10 hours more a week than he was 15 to 20 years ago. That means these young people will have less time for family, church, prayer, Scripture reading, witness, and service.”
Life, work, culture, economics etc are changing rapidly and all of which will cause us to think differently about our faith and communal involvements. Next generation will do church differently… they need to introduced and nurtured in faith differently than prior generations. Not that what worked before is wrong… just that it does not fit into the new world. Are we ready to do ministry differently?