I was visiting a church not long ago and something was glaringly obvious.
There were no sounds of a baby crying coming from the nursery.
There were no elementary boys being asked to calm down by their parents.
There were no preschoolers to be seen.
Not even one teenager.
The majority of the congregation was senior adults. I am thankful for senior adults. They are usually faithful to attend. Faithful to contribute. Faithful to study the Word.
But the truth is, if you don't hear any crying coming from the nursery hallway, your church is dying. If something doesn't change, the church I mentioned above, will have to close their doors. Because they haven't been reaching the next generation, the church will die off.
For a church to thrive long term, it must be willing to make necessary changes. The shift has to move from "we've always done it that way" to "let's be a part of creating environments that are relevant for our kids and grand-kids."
Simply put, there are many churches that are dying because they are unwilling to embrace the next generation. And one day they look up and their children and grandchildren are not in church because it wasn't impacting their life or giving them the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Many older churches are acknowledging this, but in most situations, it's too late. Their children and grandchildren have either dropped out of church or started attending more contemporary churches.
In many cases, an older, dying church, that is down to just a handful of people, will contact a thriving church in their area. They merge with the thriving church and turn over their buildings, assets and bank account to them.
Through this process, the thriving church will make the dying church one of it's multi-site campuses. The thriving church will bring energy, volunteers, pastors and a great children and youth ministry.
I have personally gone through this process. A church, about 45 minutes from our home campus, asked if we wanted to bring them on as a campus. They were down to 5-10 people attending.
We agreed and did a total makeover with fresh paint, remodeling and revamping the facilities. We brought in solid children's and student ministry programming. Within months, the church began to grow. A year later, there were over 600 people attending each week.
This weekend, I am speaking at a church in Kansas. 7 years ago, a dying church in the area asked if this church would take over. The dying church turned over their buildings, finances and property to the thriving church. With the changes that were made and a new emphasize on reaching the next generation, the church has been growing by 20% each year and many families are being reached.
If you are reading this and you are part of a dying church, where you never hear babies crying, then it's time for a wake up call. Turn your attention to the next generation. Honor the senior adults, but help them see if they want to reach their kids and grand-kids, they've got to let go of some things that are generational.
Every church that has few, if any, babies is just one generation from extinction. This is year there will be 8,000 to 10,000 churches that will close their doors. I guarantee you a large percentage of them had no babies in the nursery.
The good news and hope for our country is that many new churches are being planted. Churches that make reaching the next generation a high priority. Churches that can merge and breathe life into the churches that are dying.
Can you hear any noisy kids on Sunday? If not, it's time to take a close look at what you're doing and change what is contributing to the decline.
Posted in: children's ministry,family ministry,next gen,reaching kids,reaching the next generation