Preacher Andy Stanley on the 18-25 Demographic Leaving Church
Pastor Andy Stanly, son of famous Atlanta preacher Charles Stanley, was quoted as saying:
He insisted that church leaders “pretty much agree on the goal” and that “the problem isn’t Jesus or God or the Bible, but the approach that is driving people away,” citing historical trends which demonstrate the progressive decline in church attendance, particularly among the 18-25 year old demographic. “We are financing their exit from church,” he lamented. ((Link): Source)
Look, Rev. Stanley, it’s not just the 18- 25 age bracket that is leaving church: it’s people over 30 years of age, especially the never married, widowed, or divorced people, who are leaving. I’m one of them. We are leaving because our needs and concerns are not being addressed. Our needs are not being met.
The under- age- 25 demographic is leaving for some of the same reasons the over- 30 unmarrieds and single women in particular are leaving (which I won’t get into here – well, just a little bit).
What I can tell you will NOT work or bring in the under-25 demographic: rock and roll music; preachers wearing Hawaiian print shirts; neato, cutting edge multi-media in church services; the preacher of a church using Twitter and other social media; using gimmicks in church services (such as zip lines, live camels on stage, etc); trying to be hip, cool, or relevant.
“Gender complementarianism,” which is taught, believed, and practiced at most churches that teach conservative doctrine, is driving capable, intelligent females of all ages AWAY from church attendance, because such churches generally limit women to roles such as church nursery baby sitters or secretaries, and won’t allow them to fully use their God-given talents or allow them to pursue what they are interested in within church.
I could go on with other reasons why people have stopped attending church, but I’ll leave it at that.
I do agree with Stanley on this point (it’s one I have raised on my own blog numerous times before, that preachers and Christians spend more time bitching and hand wringing about liberalism than they do in actually helping those in their own churches, which offers no incentives for anyone who would otherwise consider coming to Christ, and is a turn-off); here are his quotes:
A major reason for the decline of the church, Stanley contended, is that Christians have focused too much on policing the behavior of outsiders without looking at the inside.
“If in the past 50 years, the church had done a good enough job policing our own behavior, then we would not be able to build churches big enough and fast enough today,” he said, adding that the imperatives of the New Testament are addressed to Christians. “Who doesn’t want to be part of a community that loves one another, prays for one another, shares and cares for one another? But that’s not what comes to mind when people think of the church.”
“The reason the church grew in the first century is because women were valued there like nowhere else in the world, children were treasured like nowhere else, and slaves were attracted because everyone was equal before God. It was all about ‘one another’ and the culture eventually paused and took a look at that and the Gospel spread.”
My advice to preachers and other Christians:
If you want your church to grow, start by meeting the needs of people in your church- all of them, in all life situations and from all backgrounds- not just homeless people in your downtown; starving African orphans; and don’t spend all your energy griping about liberalism, homosexual marriage, and abortion – maybe this is part of the reason Christ told followers not to obsess so much about the speck in someone else’s eye, but to concentrate on the log in your own.
For more on this issue, please see other posts at this blog: