Tag Archives: local church

The Future, the Family, and Your Church

There are high rise condominiums growing up out of the concrete all around us here in Houston. Many are replacing older apartment buildings that took up more space. But there is also brand new construction all around easy access to transportation routes in the downtown, mid-town and westside neighborhoods like Memorial, the Heights and Upper Kirby.

These new trends in residential building are following demographic trends:

  • The birthrate has been on the decline, women are waiting later to have children and are having fewer children – the time to move out to the suburbs and focus on the school district is coming later.
  • People are waiting later to get married, more are living together first. Most couples who marry today, cohabit first. This means there is a longer transition period into the neighborhood housing experience.
  • More people are living single for longer. This means that a smaller, more convenient living space makes better sense.

Our physical living arrangements in large cities like Houston are changing because of the new ways we are choosing to live our lives. Many of these choices are not necessarily deliberate.

There are three big social changes that have come to dominate our lives that I think the local church needs to spend its energy and focus:

  1. Working is coming to dominate our lives – we want to live closer to where we work. We now have technology that allows us (if we like it or not) to work all the time. The old fashioned 9-5 workday has disappeared – along with the typewriter. Younger people feel a tremendous amount of anxiety about their work future.
  2. Relationships are more transitory and fragile than ever before. Traditional families, composed of mother, father and their children are at the lowest numbers ever in our history.
  3. People are less and less knowledgeable about what and why they believe about their faith. This means that decision making based on personal and collective faith becomes less certain.

How is your church organizing itself to minister to the  new world emerging all around it? Take a look at your church website, newsletter or even weekly bulletin. What clues can you learn about the way your church has organized itself for ministry?  What is aimed inwardly, how much outwardly?

  • Is your church using the internet effectively to communicate, teach, and involve members and seekers?
  • Are you scheduling activities that are convenient for only a limited segment of your church?
  • How are you taking your church into the neighborhoods? Do you have regular gatherings in people’s homes – including those condo’s and apartments?
  • Are you finding ways to help people in your church and community find ways to solve larger problems related to raising children, adult relationships, taking care of parents, finding a new career?

The ways that your church has organized itself – committees, funding, programs, etc. will tell you how prepared it is for the changing world.  Very rarely will your church be able to do things it is not organized to do.

Take a good hard look at the world around you – and then pretend you are an outsider and look hard at your church. How well do the these two worlds connect?

Millennials and Marriage

Who is a Millennial? Someone born in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The term was coined based on the idea that children born in 1982 would graduate from high school at the start of the next millennium.

The Pew Research Center reports that Millennials:

  • Are more likely to still live at home with their parents
  • They have now overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation
  • They tend to be less religious than previous generations
  • Currently they experience more financial burden
  • This slice of the population is more racially diverse
  • They are less trusting of others
  • Typically are more politically liberal
  • They are the first generation to be digital natives

Despite some of the research you have read and even some of the magazine covers (designed to sell issues), Millennials are probably not that much different from any other generation. What’s different is the world around them in which they have to build themselves and forge paths toward their future.

A recent article in Relevant Magazine pointed out some alarming numbers when it comes to Millennials and marriage. I guess these are only alarming if you believe in marriage and it’s benefits for individuals and for society as a whole.

  • Younger people aren’t getting married at the same rate as previous generations
  • Cohabitation before marriage is now the new normal
  • Online solutions for starting relationships are increasing

Seems to me that what Millennials might need is some information to help them make wise decisions about their lives. Why is marriage good for individuals? People who are married live longer, report higher levels of personal happiness and are generally healthier, both physically and mentally. Children thrive at a much higher rate in married homes than in single parent or cohabiting homes. Overall, marriage and family is good for everyone involved, including all the rest of us. The higher the rates of marriage in a society, the great the economic and civic benefits for everyone in town.

To be honest with you, people still make bad decisions even when faced with facts to the contrary. I do, don’t you? This leads me to believe that what young people really need is not the will to make wise choices, but the environment in which to experience more options that are smart and healthy.

Where in the world is a millennial supposed to find someone to go on a date with these days? Because of technology (which was supposed to liberate us) work has now crossed the 9-5 borders. There are fewer and fewer “safe” public social venues. So often, today’s crowd offers an abundance of moral confusion instead of a confirming environment in which to seek meaningful connections.

What about your local church? Why is that the last place most young singles consider when thinking about a place to meet a great person to date?

Why does the local church not organize itself in such a way to facilitate healthy and meaningful relationship building among young people? I’m not talking about offering boring classes! Hip social experiences, adventures, concerts and nights out should be the new norm for the local church.

Maybe Millennials are just like every other generation before them, they just some help.