Sword & Trowel: First, Middle, Last

We live in a culture that divides people. Socially, demographically, politically – our culture always promotes dividing lines. In particular, our society tends to pit young people against older people, leading to generational conflicts.

Fortunately, in the family of God we are led differently, led to unity between the generations. We are all one in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12; Gal. 3:28). From the womb to the grave to eternity, every member of God’s family has worth and worth.

Oklahoma Baptist churches are blessed to have strong members from every generation: Greatest Generation, Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and now Gen Z. Each of them plays an important role in what God does in our state and in the environment does world.

I am grateful for each and every one of these generations and individuals. I am especially thankful for older Saints who have served so faithfully for so long: pray, give, go. Because of them we have seen the gospel advance, to the glory of Christ!

Today I’m writing with a focus on that younger generation I mentioned – Gen Z. In a recent column, Lifeway writer Aaron Earls talks about how Gen Z is facing an exit crisis of epic proportions.

“Lifeway Research found that 66 percent of church teens between the ages of 18 and 22 drop out for at least a year,” Earls wrote. “Reflecting on the similarities between dropping out of the church while in college and COVID can give pastors and church leaders more realistic expectations for the future and opportunities to think about how to reach out to those who have not yet returned.

“As teenagers grow into young adults, many also turn away from their earlier religious beliefs and practices. In the Lifeway Research study of young adults, 29 percent of those who had dropped out of the church said they planned to take a break from church after high school.

“However, the number one reason young adults leave the church after high school, and most likely the number one reason churchgoers have not returned after the pandemic, is not a deliberate decision. Most just drifted off during those college years. And the same is true for many during COVID.”

Stop and think about it. What is true for young people was true for many other generations. We just gave up going to church.

Earls added, “Their living habits and routines were disrupted, and many did not make the deliberate effort it would take to find a new church. Many teenagers don’t change their faith, but their faith isn’t enough motivation for the church-searching and church-going work.”

It’s easy to imagine these young people boomeranging back into church once they get married or have kids. But there are no guarantees of that, and we need them to get involved now.

As a pastor said, the 18-year-old needs the 81-year-old and vice versa in church life. This all underscores the urgent need to pray for ministries like Falls Creek, Baptist Collegiate Ministries (also known as BSU), Oklahoma Baptist University, Vacation Bible School and so many other ministries that are reaching the next generation for Christ.

What can you do? pray today Pray for your pastor, your church, these ministries. Next, go to church yourself to set an example. Next, spend time volunteering if you can. Then spend time reaching out to younger people in fellowship and friendship. Finally, continue to support your community financially.

In the body of Christ we value all stages of life, from the first to the last. And we need all generations, from first to middle to last, to accomplish the gospel work that Jesus commanded us to do.

About Katie Curtis

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