Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Reaching the Next Generation for Christ

Churches in small towns and rural areas are finding that their communities are rapidly changing because of an influx of urbanites and progressive ideas that increased use of technology have brought. 
Those churches are discovering that these changes make it more dicult to reach their communities for Christ. To reach the postmodern people who now live in their communities, many churches are facing critical changes in their thinking and practices.

Some of those changes will be relatively easy to implement and will cause little discomfort to current members. Those relatively easy changes can help small churches regain their role as the social and ceremonial centers of their communities. 
Those changes can also help the next generation view the church building as a place for community events that may not be directly connected to the church but are helpful in building bridges to the unchurched. Many small churches will be able to make these types of adjustments once they take the time to prayerfully consider them.

Other changes will be more significant and will bring a higher level of tension. Churches that choose to engage the culture philosophically will take a huge leap forward to reach the next generation, but it will not be easy. The challenge will be in learning how to engage the culture without adopting the culture.  These bigger changes may require an investment of time and energy as the church’s members venture outside the walls of the church building to serve the community. 
They may also push some churches to change their view of evangelism from an event to a process. That change in viewpoint will be a struggle for many.

Churches seeking to help a generation in pain will learn to take risks because it is much easier to recognize deep pain than it is to implement ministries that seek to join God in healing that pain.
Churches that desire to help nonbelievers discover the pathway toward God as part of a logical journey undertake a huge task.

Church leaders who seek to create a worship experience that speaks to postmodern young adults in ways they can understand, without driving o current church members, will spend significant time in prayer. Such changes will most likely require a release of some traditions, as well as an embrace of modern technology and music, along with a rediscovery of ancient liturgical and experiential worship styles.
None of these are easy steps to take. None should be rushed into.

None should be forced on a congregation that is unwilling to make these adjustments. But churches that are willing and ready to reach the world with the gospel will find the next generation is responsive because of their desperate spiritual need.

If your church wants to reach the next generation effectively, consider buying Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources. The book expands on each of the above ideas in practical ways. Dr. Dorsett believes we can engage the postmodern culture that surrounds us without actually adopting that culture that is so often opposed to biblical values.


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