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Yesterday I came across this piece from Barna Group, in which recent research draws some interesting distinctions between what the report calls ?Millennials who stay? and ?dropouts.? In short, there are significant differences in the church experiences of Millennials who still actively participate in the church and Millennials who?ve dropped out of the church. As I read over those factors, I couldn?t help but think of them as key difference-makers in discipling the next generation. And as such, I couldn?t help but think of them as elements that should be consistently integrated into our worship services (as well as the other facets of our churches, of course).

So, read the Barna piece. I?ll wait.?

As you can see, the factors identified in the piece are what we might call Relationships, Engaging Culture, Service/Mission, Vocation, and Spiritual Intimacy. Given the research compiled and analyzed by Barna, wouldn?t we be crazy to ignore these signposts the next time we gather to plan a worship service? I think so.?

Aren?t the qualities of ?Millennials who stay? as enumerated in the report the kind of qualities we want to cultivate in our people? I think so.?

As is always the case with research, we have to be careful not to conflate correlation and causation, but I can?t see why these data and conclusions wouldn?t have an effect on the songs we sing, the sermon series we preach, the prayers we pray, the liturgical elements we select, and so on.?

Millennials who stay are connected, formed, and sent. Are we actively facilitating that reality? Are we blindly ignoring that reality? Are we recklessly abdicating our role in affecting that reality? These are the questions we must ask ourselves.

Culture is shifting, our people are changing, and so the work of worship and formation should flex accordingly. Let?s have those conversations this week.?



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2 replies on “Why They Stay, Why They Leave, and What We Should Do About It”

“Aren?t the qualities of ?Millennials who stay? as enumerated in the report the kind of qualities we want to cultivate in our people? I think so.”

Perhaps. Some of them read as red flags though, especially the one about people who somehow actively hear Jesus’ voice (which suggest the polls skewed toward certain charismatic denominations and groups). If anything, Barna’s report read like someone missing the forest for the trees. “Culture discernment” can be code for “culture war/religious right”, “meaningful relationships” can be read as “controlling discipleship”, and “reverse mentoring” can be a form of “wretched urgency”, where the flock is so small everyone must get involved before we all just burn.

It sort of reads like preaching to the choir, not listening to those who have left, and patting each other on the back for truly accurately spiritually biblicaly discerning what’s gnostically going on.

Although we clearly read the Barna material differently, I can tell you’re passionate about this topic (or something adjacent to it). And now that we know what you’re against, I’m ready to hear what you’re for when you get a chance.

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