The False Dichotomy: Why Millennials Leave the Church?


As we all know this year marks the 500th anniversary of the of the Protestant Reformation with Martin Luther; anyone interested in Christianity should become familiar with Martin Luther and his work. We remember as we look back to 1517 the pivotal moment in history has done for us today, this simple a monk named Martin Luther posted a paper to a church’s door, and transformed the world with our theology, and rediscovery of the gospel.

As R.C. Sproul a theologian, author, and pastor. The founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries said it well, “Reformers themselves consider their work to be “Reformation” not “Revolution”. They didn’t see their activity as organized revolt against the church or against historical Christianity. In many ways, like in the 7th and 8th century BC prophets of Israel, they saw their task as calling the church back, to the original form, original theology of the apostolic church; that they were not trying to create something new, they were not trying to make a “New-Form” but to “Re-Form” the call the church to the roots and it’s origin.

In the same way, Discipleship is not the new cutting edge trendy hip cool thing churches are doing. The strategy is not new. The method has been time-tested and is culturally relevant in any context. Laymen without seminary education or years of ministerial experience are able to reach the nations by implementing these core discipleship principles.

“State of Discipleship Report” article written by Christianity Today September, 2015 headline said this, “Pastors and Pews Vastly Disagree on Discipleship Success”

The stats shows that less than 1 percent of senior pastors and discipleship pastors told Barna that “Today’s churches are doing very well at discipling new and young believers.” Six in 10 said that churches are discipling “not too well.” On the other hand, those in the pews disagree. More than 9 in 10 said that their church “definitely” (52%) or “probably” (40%) does “a good job of helping people grow spiritually.”

There seems to be a false dichotomy of disconnect between these both.

Barna Research Group held a livestream webiner last week titled, “2017 State of Pastors: Leading in Complexity” all across the nation on Friday January 26, 2017. The research, conducted in partnership with Pepperdine University, represents surveys and interviews with 14,000 Protestant pastors from 40 denominations offers a revealing look into the lives of pastor and the church within our millennial age.

Christianity Today mentioned with an article titled, “Only 1 in 7 Senior Pastors Is Under 40” American pastors aren’t as young as they used to be. The church is the graying of pastors; Millennials and older generations struggle to hand the baton to younger pastors, as clergy live longer and stay in ministry longer, the average age of Protestant senior pastors has risen to 54 – a decade older than 25 years before, when the average age was 44.

The number alone can come up with many assumptions, but one that makes us thinking in regards of, “Discipleship” is pastors that are over 50 and older, admit engaging younger generations is a challenge. In a similar vein, “keeping up with cultural changes” is uniquely challenging for leaders who have been in ministry for 30 years or longer.

Going back to the observation above, discipleship is no new method. However, time has changed. As pastors disciple and train up leaders from the millennial generation, we must begin to think not only exegete the biblical model well but also engage and exegete our community well. The good news is it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and lead one’s soul. The Holy Spirit has sustained the church for a couple thousand years now and shows no sign of calling it a day! Let’s trust the Spirit’s sustaining power not to quit, and prepare for the future of his church.

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