Mission Drift


This has been an interesting morning already, as I have met with a 25 year old, myself sharing the heart of a 60 year old, when an 86 year old retired pastor walked up.  All of us were life long churchmen, none of us full time pastors, but all having that experience in some degree or another.

All of us had the same question emerge in our conversation: “What will become of, or what will replace the church as we know it, in the lives of the next generation?”

I had just finished reading an article this morning by Greg Straub entitled Raising Your Congregational IQ.  The article indicated that “about 80 percent of US adults are unchurched, and 20 million of them are Christians!”  The article went on to declare that “twice a month attendance now qualifies statistically as regular. But the most troubling clue is this: younger generations have little or no institutional memory of church to which to come back to. There is no back there, back there!   Approximately two-thirds of those born from 1965 to 1983 were not raised in church and/or have very minimal exposure. Of those born 1984 to 2002, two-thirds are second generation unchurched regular attendees and that definition is twice per month.”

What is going on that would cause the Holy Spirit to set off an alarm across multiple generations; and what does it mean that churches would hear that message in all media, meanwhile continue “church as usual” given the enormous data that indicates her ineffectiveness?

Is the Church no longer represented well by its churches?  In fact is the “Jesus” being marketed by the churches even the Man of Galilee?  This is not unlike the people of Jerusalem worshiping the God of Israel but not recognizing the God-man among them doing the miracles that caused them to rejoice!

Equally, my concern is that the signs and wonders produced by the Christ, then in fact promised through the Church, even evidenced by the early church, and contemporary persecuted churches, are noticeable absent in America apart from often charlatan televangelists.

Is there a connection between suffering and signs, community and communion?  Are churches so fragmenting the body of Christ that the individuals (the organs) of the body are now malfunctioning?  If so, what is the responsibility of those individuals to speak up, to steward the body, now long since relinquished to career professionals who seem to be more interested in income and success, as they climb the corporate ladders of the church industry.

These are harsh words, yet application of lessons being learned among publically held for-profits, during this age of scare resources and extreme needs, may not be out of place for the churches of our land?  Are we in mission drift?

7 thoughts on “Mission Drift

  1. The younger the Pastors, the younger they would like their congregation. This attitude of catering to the very young has brought around a departure from the church. The glue that seemed to keep most churches together were the older generation, who now feel mostly unwanted and definately unneeded. Had it not have been for My Godly Grandfather, giving me a New Testament at the age of 7 I would probably not have known Christ either. That Testament held my concentration every evening before bed and I read it over and over until my sister asked to take it to school and lost it. However, I found the Bible to be like a southing balm to me always and to this day, when all else and others fail me, I have this extremely,deep rooted knowing that God is there and all I have to do is open my Bible.

    1. Joyce…My experience with many (not all) of the ‘older generation’ has been very different from yours. I generally see a bunch of tired old men with no grit, no passion…just content to spend down their 401(k)s, play golf and collect sea shells…demonstrating mostly disdain for this generation rather than accepting responsibility for much of its condition and engaging them with the GOSPEL…not ‘churchianity’ and not ‘religious marketing campaigns’ designed to garner another generation to pay their club dues (tithes) to the institution. I agree that God intended for His body to be intimately connected across generations and race…and it is not healthy to have congregations that are so homogenous–e.g. ‘black’ churches, ‘white’ churches, churches with almost everyone over 65, or churches with almost everyone 35 and under. So where do we go from here???

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