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Saturday, October 27, 2007

"After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty-and Thirty Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion"


I knew this was an important book to read when David Brooks from the New York Times commented on it in an editorial several weeks ago. When I dug into the book by Robert Wuthnow, I knew this would cause me to do some serious re-evaluating where we direct ministry energy. But when I read Brian McLaren's review of the book in the recent "Christian Century" magazine, it sobered me. McLaren succinctly summarizes a complext book filled with sociolgical tables and graphs with the quote: "If one turns the book's subtitle into a question- How are 20- and 30-somethings shaping the future of American religion? the simple aswer may be, By staying away."
"The biggest single social factor related to declining church attendance among younger adults is not TV, the Internet, increasing skepticism regard Christian orthodoxy or the spector of 'secular humanism' or 'relativism.' No, Wuthnow says, 'being married or unmarried has a stronger effect on church attendance than anything else."
Delayed marriage, delayed child-bearing, vocational and social mobility all contribute to a cohort that finds traditional congregational involvement not meaningful. They are spiritually hungry, theologically conservation, socially conscious, and organizationally warry. The local church, by and large, is not getting the job done in regards to young adults (21-45 years old) anywhere. McLaren's solutions: 1. redistribute congregational energy away from the traditional arenas of children, youth and seniors and invest in post-high school and college ministries. 2. listen to young adults inside and outside the church. 3. listen to those in the Christian community who are getting it and doing it well (like Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward, Chris Seay and Rob Bell) 4. increase dialogue with those groups doing great campus ministries.
I'm going to finish this book fast. You should too!

2 Comments:

At 10:07 AM , Blogger Kalon L said...

I'm just finishing "The Forgotten Ways" by Alan Hirsch which develops a similar theme. In his view, the "attractional" model of the church (where we attract people to come to us) needs to be replaced by an incarnational model where we go to others. In my view it is a profound book and a message that we need to consider.

 
At 6:22 AM , Blogger Jim Martin said...

Donn,
Thanks for this post. I had heard of this very interesting book but did not know the title.

This is a good review and I anticipate reading the book.

 

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