One thing I don’t like to read is “analysis” about certain generations and what church must do in order to attract a specific generation.
It could be about the Millennials, or the Baby Boom generation, or the generation that comes after the Millennials (whatever they are calling that one). No worries though, there won’t be articles about Gen X – the generation the experts would rather forget about. No worries though, it frees up Gen X from ridiculous expectations and generalizations about us.
A friend posted an article about Millennials and church. I forget if the author was saying very authoritatively that the way to attract Millennials is by having high church services. It’s a common refrain that has been repeated. The problem with this specific author stating that “fact” is that they never pointed to any statistical information. It was just stated as a fact without anything to back it up. The “fact” has been repeated so many times now that it is assumed to be universally true.
This is similar to the “fact” that half of all marriages end in divorce. That fact is pure BS.
The 50 percent statistic is very misleading, if not completely wrong. “The demographics of divorce are routinely reported wrong, calculated wrong or misinterpreted,” says Robert Hughes, a former professor in the Department of Human & Family Services, College of Human Environmental Science, University of Missouri-Columbia. Hughes says that for every two marriages that occurred in the 1990s there was one divorce. “This does not mean the divorce rate is 50 percent [because] the people getting married in a single year are not the same ones getting divorced,” he says.
No one is really certain about how the 50 percent number imbedded itself so deeply in popular imagination. “The assumption has been (by those who have not studied it carefully) is that the 50 percent number came from someone noticing that, in the U.S., we have about 2.4 million marriages a year and 1.2 million divorces a year. Hence, 50 percent of married couples divorce,” says Scott M. Stanley of the University of Denver.
If someone wants to make an argument for why they prefer high church or low church, great, be my guest. You have all the right in the world to have a preference. But don’t claim it as a fact for an entire generation.
How about this instead – regardless of high church or low church, how about church be an authentic expression of worship by the community gathered to God, regardless of the age/generation?
But that’s not nearly as sexy sounding is it? That’s not nearly as controversial either. Nor is it divisive, separating people into camps – high church vs. low church.
Do people have preferences when it comes to worship – you bet they do. And you know what, that’s not a bad thing. The “right” worship will be what fits the context of the community gathered. Relying on oversimplifications to determine what kind of worship we should have is a bad idea. It’s focused on the wrong thing.