Reaching the Next Generation

Kevin DeYoung has been writing a series about reaching the next generation by grabbing them with passion, winning them with love, holding them with holiness, challenging them with truth, and amazing them with God. The holiness and truth installments were particularly insightful and I know that these two aspects have had a great influence on me. I’ve found that, anecdotally, many solid Christians in my generation aren’t impressed by performance-driven worship styles; practical but shallow preaching; and no link to the historical church. Instead we want to grapple with hard truths of Scripture and apply them, apply the gospel to every facet of life, and learn from the good and bad of history.

I was particularly startled by some results on why people return to church that DeYoung cited in the truth article. Thom Rainer researched why formerly unchurched people chose the church they were currently attending. The results were:

11 percent: worship style
25 percent: children’s/youth ministry
37 percent: sensed God’s presence
41 percent: someone witnessed to them from the church
49 percent: friendliness
88 percent: doctrine
90 percent: preaching with certitude and conviction

Here’s to hoping the next “seeker sensitive” movement is one of sound doctrine, Scriptural fidelity, and biblical worship.

3 thoughts on “Reaching the Next Generation

  1. Two quick observations: Isn't it possible to preach with "certitude and conviction" and be completely wrong? The reason I attend my church is not on the list and I think (obviously) that it is more important than all of the rest. A church needs to love God and love people. With out both of these conviction is meaningless.

  2. Probably one of the limitations of the study is not being able to ask every possible situation, and wording of questions is always less than perfect.It is possible to preach with certitude and conviction and be wrong, but if a preacher is soberly reliant upon the Scriptures, their certitude is not in vain. Good theological training helps, too.I agree that a church needs to love God and love people. How can we love God without understanding his love for us first? Who is God? We can't love someone we don't know anything about or don't want to learn more about. The answers are in Scripture, and authoritative true preaching is a primary means to learn the gospel, who God is, and the believer's right response. Theology and practice are beautifully intertwined. Without both a knowledge of the truth of who God is and who we are, loving God and loving people is meaningless.

  3. I don't think you can ever say love is meaningless. Love can be misdirected or misunderstood, but it is never meaningless. In this context, unchurched people coming to church, our love (for God, for each other, and for outsiders) should be paramount. We are to be known for our love, and we have failed miserably. The greatest gift the church has to give to the world is love, because that is God's greatest gift to us. Doctrine and convection are important, but they need to be handled with care. Too often they can lead to moral superiority and conflict. How many schisms have occurred because of (major) conviction and (minor)doctrine? How many churches have been divided by conviction and doctrine? (I've lived through one)The church needs sound doctrine and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but without love, we are just a clanging cymbal. Sadly, the church has become well known for its noise.

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