One of the proposed plants is actually a “replant” in the location of an existing congregation. By their own admission this congregation has failed to reach the community and the younger families that are part of that community.
Part of the replant process being proposed is closing the existing congregation for a time. Taking the “fallow field” approach for several months then restarting completely new from the ground up.
Some have asked why we don’t just use the current name and organizational paperwork. In effect — same church just different approach.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.
Millennials perceive established churches to have values that are entrenched in non-missional traditions. Millennials have values that focus on community, cooperation and service to others. They see established churches as barriers to those values, institutions that are more concerned about maintaining the status quo than making a missional difference.
They perceive that much time in established churches is wasted catering to members’ personal preferences. For a number of Millennials, the established church feels more like a religious country club rather than an outwardly-focused organization. Budgets, ministries and activities seem to be focused on preferences of members rather than reaching out to others.
Many established churches are denominationally loyal; but many Millennials see denominations as antiquated organizations. If a church is affiliated with a denomination, this younger generation views both the church and the denomination as anachronisms. They don’t see either as effective or relevant.
Millennials don’t see established churches as community-centric. The men and women of this generation typically have a heart for their community. Many have become key to the revitalization of urban communities and other locales. But they see most established churches with a minimal focus at best on the community in which they are located.
Millennials see church planting as a far superior alternative. To use a well-worn phrase, they would rather have babies than raise the dead. They see futility in wasting precious resources of people, time and money on churches that will not likely budge or change.
While we may or may not agree with some or all of these points. They do provide food for thought. Any congregation that is “growing older” and is failing to reach those considered to be millennials (young families) would do well to discuss these ideas and address them accordingly.
How is your congregation planning to reach the young families in your community that currently do not have a church home?