Just because you talk a lot doesn’t mean you’re necessarily good at communicating. In fact, many leaders confuse eloquence with clarity, and as a result, often leave the people who work with them bedazzled by their verbal dexterity, and entirely confused about what to do next.
This may be the most important post I have ever written. The Barna Group reported in a 2009 study that senior pastors of mainline churches have an average tenure of only four years. One of the reasons cited for such a brief stay is that while 93% of all pastors claim to be leaders, only 12% claim to have the spiritual gift of leadership. You can read the full article by clicking here. The epidemic of pastors leaving their churches, regardless of the reason, is an issue that must to be addressed.
Every day, a lot of potentially great content disappears into the ether, never to be heard from or seen again. And others gets shared by hundreds, thousands, or even millions. Why? Believe it or not, most content that resonates share 5 characteristics. With an eye for these 5, you might soon find your content resonating more than it does now.
Yesterday, I spent the day in Phoenix at the “You Lose Me” conference. A lot of the data in the conference can be found in UnChristian, The Next Christiansand You Lost Me, 3 books that every church leader should read.
Here are some things that jumped out:
Make the gospel simpler, but no simpler. By making things too simple, dumbing down, we lose entrepreneurs and scientists. It is complex, we need to communicate the complexity and simplicity of the gospel.
The gospel is a simple message.
Because of brokenness in families and fatherlessness, we need call on strong families in our churches and call them to be on mission with other people’s kids.
This isn’t the first time that believers have faced complicated cultural realities.
The best biblical metaphors for our time is exiles in Babylon.
This generation want to have money mean something, to be more than a paycheck.
The high unemployment rate is one of the reasons this generation feels so disconnected.
There is a generational desire to make change.
The tough reality for millennials is they graduate college with 27K in debt. 1 in 3 18-29 year old are unemployed after college.
Millennials need to see how Jesus can transform their jobs, lives and monday’s.
This generation is more in debt than any other generation.
You don’t get to be in the disciple making business if you aren’t talking about money.
The problem is faith and money rarely meet.
The leading cause of divorce is money. It’s because of our relationship with money and if 2 people can talk about money.
The frequency of arguments about money, statistically the chance of divorce goes up.
Training on money and faith needs to be more than just classes and workbooks, we need people who walk with others and disciple them through money.
The way people leave church
7 out of 10 people lose their faith as young adults.
Most of them are leaving church, not Jesus.
The least common, 1 in 10, become an ex-Christian, people who grew up in church and drop out.
The more common is nomads, 4 in 10, are lost to church. They say things like, “going to church is optional, I have no interest now. I grew up as a Christian but have since tried other faiths or practices.”
69% of Americans say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus, yet many are spiritual nomads.
3 in 10 Americans are exiles. They say, “I want to follow Jesus but connect with the world. I want to help the church change its priorities to be what Jesus called it to be. I don’t want a comfortable faith that my parents have.”
This generation is more willing to be challenged than we are willing to challenge them.
Exiles seek to do mission in the areas the church has tuned out: fashion, business, film, science.
Churches need to stop talking about people who leave the church as though they are stupid.
Not your Father’s Babylon
We live in digital babylon.
We live in a culture dominated by multi-national corporation.
This generation is a selfish, narsisstic, sexualized, brave and loyal to their peers.
We need to teach our churches how to live on mission in the midst of a digital, sexualized culture.
Why Millennials are Different
We don’t have a mainstream culture anymore because of the news cycle
The most diverse religious, ethnic and sexual culture ever
The typical teenager uses on average 10 hours of media per day
Indifferent towards denominations and religions, distinctions don’t make any sense to Millennials
They ask, “why do I have to be a certain kind of Christian?”
Because of the change in media, Millennials are looking for meaningful relationships. They are skeptical of the celebrity Christian.
Socioligists say that peple are launched in life when you leave home, finish school, financially independent, get married and have children.
In 1960, 70% of adults completed these 5 things by 30.
37% of adults complete these by 30 today.
% of live births to unwed mothers:
5% in 1960
All the best human inventions in history are now in our pockets on our phones.
This generation doesn’t bank at a bank, buy music at a store, but they have to go to a church to find Jesus.
This generation is not just sort of different, our culture in discontinusouly different (and we’re all immersed in it).
Reversing the 59%
The first thing to reverse the trend is meaningful relationships.
7 in 10 who left the church do not have a close friend in church.
The second is practicing cultural discernment together.
Reading scripture and watching film together.
Watch film and culture and talk about it with students.
Talk about the values in the media we are consuming.
The third is reverse mentoring
We need the next generation to help us
Younger generations become the kind of Christians that older generations are.
Just because you attend church or student ministries, does not mean you are being discipled
The fourth is vocational discipleship
Helping your church see that vocation and calling matter
The fifth is tune young people’s ears to the voice of God
The second session of Day 2 was done by David Kinnaman who is the president of the Barna group and he talked about future trends in culture and what the church needs to be ready for and how to reach the world around us.
Here are some thoughts from his session:
The first job of a leader is to accurately define reality
We need to understand the times to know what to do (! Chronicles 12:32)
Clarity + Courage
The future does not just happen, it is created by visionary leaders
There are 3 signs of the future that will shape how we do ministry
The first is Access, there is unprecedented levels of access
People in our culture relate to and understand the church through screens
Words make up less than 0.1% of the total of communication
Information consumption is moving from passive to interactive
People want to learn what they want, when they want and how they want
The church needs to be digitally capable missionaries
The second sign of the future is Alienation
There are new levels of isolation
Today, people are 8X more likely to be born into a home without a father
One of the problems of alienation in our culture is the church does not speak the whole of life, we too often speak to just a part of someone’s life
The third sign of the future is questioning authority
Questions like how do you know something is true?
From 1966 – 2007 our culture’s confidence in leaders of all kinds has gone down and skepticism has skyrocketed
When we open the Bible in our church, the people sitting in the seats are skeptical, how will we speak to that skepticism?
The central challenge for the church concerning this generation is being in, but not of the world
The first implication for the church is the gospel surges into this kind of culture through exiles – people able to navigate two worlds
The second implication is we get to prepare people to live in-but-no-of-lives
The third implication is that we need to know what we are asking people to love
We need to recognize the need for city-based coalitions
We need to cultivate humility in our work with one another and with city leaders