The growing gap between the emerging generations in our churches and those who grew up in the twentieth century is alarming. Researches found that one third of young adults believe their church is “old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.”(1)   As a result, a local church, which may have served an important role for one generation, may not be considered essential to the next.  Thom and Sam Rainer suggest that most emerging generation church goers are not leaving “acrimoniously” but rather they “just see no reason to stay” in their local church.(2)   They are concerned that the faith of their parents “has become one of self-preservation rather than one of world restoration.”(3)     
        Coinciding with this, other cultural obstacles are adding tension to the increasing gap.  Young adults who consider themselves “born again” are much more likely to exhibit liberal acceptance of moral issues such as cohabitation, gambling, pornography, homosexuality and profanity.(4)   Whether it is a failure of vision, discipleship, or relevance, the reality is that the younger generations in North America are not embracing the manner or traditions of the local church of their parents.

1  Kinnaman, David, UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… and Why it Matters.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 34.
2  Rainer & Rainer III, 31-35. (see ::generation.problem.1:: post)
3  Kinnaman, 35.
4  Ibid., 53.
graphic from flickr

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

2 thoughts on “::generation.problem.2::

  1. Good Morning! Thanks for your comment MistiPeart. I’m late getting back to these. Busy weekend!
    I think you give a fair perspective here. I challenge my age and younger all the time about our flippant-ness. We struggle to be impressed by others and want to trust them… to want to commit ourselves to them. Only when we are amazed by someone do we seem to invest personally. The old school thought of committing because it’s morally good to commit is not a prioritized ethic any more.
    If the younger generations were more amazed about God, perhaps commitment and investment towards God would be more evident… and perhaps the younger generations would try harder to change local churches from within instead of giving up so quickly?


  2. Good morning Ken,
    Just a query…Do you think perhaps part of the problem (I stress ‘part’) is that the younger generation (really, gen x to present) has no concept of the awesomeness of God – the King, and true leadership…that they have been under the thumb of leadership that is far skewed from the Truth and reality of what Jesus intended for us? Let me take it further, there are very few of us who comprehend what it is like to be part of a kingdom, to be under the authority of a King, to be loyal to a cause far greater than we could imagine. Do you think that in this day, the younger generation, especially having been conditioned to embrace independence, cannot embrace an institution that has perverted the concept of leadership, and thus having seen that, relate it to what God expects of us and so, they distance themselves from the traditional church?
    (I also think that there is a whole issue with judgement and tolerance that contributes to this topic…)
    Just a thought…


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