Picture the world in just 25 years. By that time, we will be approaching the middle of the twenty-first century. What kind of world will it be? I am certainly no prophet, so I’m not going to forecast the outcomes of politics, economics or even the next World Series. But it doesn’t take a prophetic gift to see where current tends may take us if things don’t change.
For example, lets take the status of the Church in North America. When I use the term “Church” in this context, I mean the mainstream body of historic Christian church groups. The Church in North America is plateaued in many cases and in some ways even declining in numbers and influence. That means that, if nothing changes, by 2040 Christianity in the United States and Canada will be smaller and less relevant than it is today—and greyer. The Barna Research Group published findings in 2011 which suggest that, of 18-29 year-olds who were raised with some sort of Christian background, around 60% will walk away from active Christian involvement.
While some of these younger people will eventually re-engage, many will stay gone permanently. Think about it–this loss amounts to something like eight million twenty-somethings who were involved in a church some years ago, but who are now absent from meaningful church life. Eight million—that’s like the entire state of Virginia walking out of church, or like a quarter of Canada’s national population checking out of Christianity.
These figures don’t even count the growing numbers of teens and young adults who never had any consistent church exposure. Together, I call these missing younger people the Absent Generation. Now this situation ought to call for real efforts at damage control among families, churches and church groups. But aside from some admirable efforts here and there to reach this Absent Generation, very little is changing. I am not saying that staunching this hemorrhage of our young people out of the church is an easy fix: by no means. But, God is still God –and in my own experience, reaching these absent people is do-able.
I spoke of my experience: I have been a pastor and ministry trainer over a period of nearly 40 years. In my spare time, I have taught part-time at the college and university level for secular institutions. What I have found is that the Absent Generation can be reached. Many of them will respond to, or re-engage with Jesus if they see him clearly and catch a vision for how he relates to their everyday lives. It is going to take a significant shift in the way we think and the way we do things as twenty-first century Christians. This mission is an important part of what we do as Aspect Ministries. But we need your help.
As a new non-profit organization, we need opportunities to speak to your church or organization. We need your financial support to put together online classes and workshops to help Christians learn to engage the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, neighbors and students that make up this Absent Generation. You can donate online at www.aspectministries.com or by mail at the contact address on the website. To schedule a speaker or ask a question, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We value your helpful comments, donations and prayers.
By the grace of God, we really can reach the Absent Generation. Won’t you join us? Michael Bogart