DULUTH — Has your pastor asked the people present in your worship service to stand up by age groups recently? If he has, the results may have been surprising. You may have been made painfully aware that your church has aged and the number of children and youth are exceedingly small.
Steve Parr, Georgia Baptist Mission Board vice president of Staff Coordination and Development, addressed the GBMB staff recently and indicated that he plans to do that in the church where he is serving as interim pastor in an upcoming Sunday.
Many of our churches are aging, not just in facilities and ideas, but also in the average age of the members. A pastor recently stated that unless his church is able to get some young families into his church, it would only be able to continue for about ten more years before it has to close its doors.
What do the demographics of your church look like? Most churches are not reaching and baptizing a significant number of children and teenagers. The average number of teen baptisms per church in Georgia last year was “one.” The median number was “zero,” meaning half the churches did not report a teen baptism. The number of children baptized was only slightly better.
That is precisely why Georgia Baptists are focusing on “reaching the next generation.” The emphasis is being called U2019, or #ReachingNextGen – an initiative designed to reach students with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Parr has been urging churches to engage in “Seven Sundays of Prayer” for the next generation and some churches have already piloted this prayer emphasis. Britt David Baptist Church in Columbus is one of the churches that has just concluded their seven weeks of prayer for the next generation.
Tim Jones, pastor of Britt David, reported, “We completed our seven Sundays of prayer emphasis this past Sunday, which led us right into Vacation Bible School.
“Each Sunday was uniquely special, but this past Sunday with me simply giving an analysis of where we are currently and a challenge for where we need to be was incredible. The altar filled with people coming forward to pray and to commit to an anything-necessary kind of strategy. Thank you for leading in this effort. We are looking forward to how God uses U2019 at Britt David.”
Reaching others is going to take some creativity. It could even involve sacrificing some clean clothes, as Jones recently demonstrated in explaining an invitation emphasis for Easter.
Georgia Baptists must band together to reach the next generation! Why?
- Fifty years ago a counter-cultural revolution began.
- It was a revolt against the conservative, godly values of parents.
- Prayer was removed from the schools.
- Pornography and abortion was legalized.
- The gay rights movement started.
- The sexual revolution emerged.
- More liberal universities began to propagate their agenda.
- Fifty years ago, what was unacceptable in a non-Christian home is now acceptable in many Christian homes.
- Researchers say that only four percent of this current teen generation will be Bible-believing Christians.
- Up to 40 percent of high school seniors say they have used illegal drugs in the past year.
- Seventy-two percent of teenagers have consumed alcohol by the end of high school and 37 percent have done so by the 8th grade.
- Up to 90 percent of those who come to Christ do so before they are 20.
- Within five years most of this generation will be in their 20s
- Ninety-three percent of boys and 62 percent of girls are exposed to Internet pornography before the age of 18.
- One in 10 has been raped, but only 31 percent of sexual abuse cases are reported.
- One million teenage girls are pregnant.
- Up to 340,000 teenagers have an abortion every year.
- Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 young people attempt suicide every year.
- Statistics show that 35 percent of adults are Bible believing Christians; but at the present rate of evangelism that number will drop to four percent.
- Whatever we do in the next five years will lay the course for the next 50 years of American history.
Just imagine what the church could do if we stood united in prayer, repentance, and humility with an unwavering commitment to be clothed in power of the Holy Spirit to love the next generation into a personal relationship to Christ.