Pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof wrote this recently, “Much of the church’s outreach over the last 60 years has been based on a few assumptions that are less and less true every year.” He lists three assumptions that are no longer true. They illustrate what it looks like as we move from an era of Christendom to a post-Christian society.
o Young adults will return to church when they have kids.
First of all, they're having fewer kids (or none at all). Second, when they do have kids, church is one activity among many (soccer, dance, tutoring, etc.).
o People will turn to God when they hit a crisis.
If they hit a crisis, they might turn to God. And if they do turn to God, they don't look to the church. Among younger generations especially, there is a distinct separation between the church and God.
o Most people will come back to what they left when they were young.
We now have people who are 2nd or 3rd generation unchurched. They have nothing to go back to because they were never there.
For decades, we've built our church programming around these assumptions. What happens when these assumptions are no longer true? Are we building ministry around a people who no longer exist (or are a rare minority)? What does it look like to build ministry around the existing reality?