In my role teaching students at the college and seminary level, I’ve noted that many of the best and brightest young ministers are increasingly resistant to serving in long-established churches. They are much more interested in church planting than in being part of existing churches.
In a recent post at his site, Thom Rainer suggests several reasons why this may be the case; among the factors:

“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 rather 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 the church and the denomination as anachronisms. They don’t see either as effective or relevant.”

Then Rainer adds: “My plea to Millennials is not to abandon established churches. Not all of them are as bad as many think. Consider yourself to be a part of the solution.

“Above all, look at these churches as mission fields just as you would a ministry in a distant continent. We need Millennials in established churches. Your present and future leadership is vital. Granted, church revitalization is messy and not easy. It is often slow, methodical and frustrating; but God loves the members of established churches just as He loves the members of new works.”

There are many long-established churches that—due to their inward-focus and resistance to change—already have voted to die; they just haven’t set the date. Yet there are many other churches that can be led into an exciting new future with the right leadership. One of our challenges as today’s church leaders will be to help the next generation capture that vision for themselves. (Click here to read Rainer’s full article.)

Michael Duduit

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