No one is surprised by intergenerational disconnectedness in the church. We can see it. The children go to their corner of the church, the youth theirs and the adults theirs. A lot of our churches are plagued by silos. This disconnection we see is one of the things contributing to the exodus of young people from our churches.
Research from multiple outlets shows that the largest cohort of disaffiliating young people are simply slipping away from the church. They are simply losing interest and drifting away from our midst. Why? There are multiple reasons for this, one of them being a lack of intergenerational relationships. When young people don’t feel connected to the church as a whole, it becomes easy for them to view the church as an institution, rather than a family. An institution is much easier to walk away from than a family.
Across a host of different research projects, studies have found that the most important driver of retention is actually pretty simple: actively engaging children and youth into a full life with Jesus (in the family) especially in the church. Being an active part of a church that prays together, regularly serves, evangelizes, and where they know, personally, other adults who take their faith seriously all contribute to young people having a desire to continue a life pursuing Christ into adulthood.
Our students have a desire to actively participate in the life of the church. We can help fulfill this desire through relationships. How do we create these relationships? The Pray for Me Campaign is a great start to answer this question! The Pray for Me Campaign is a church-wide initiative that equips adult believers to pray for the young people in their churches. The family of God is made up of all generations and the call to God’s people is to encourage one another, bear one another’s burdens, suffer together, rejoice together, and more. We can begin by praying for one another, especially the members of the next generation.
Let me leave you with a quote from Pastor Joe Novenson of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church. Joe had this to say after reading through the Pray for Me Prayer Guide:
“Just imagine if the concern on the minds of members of the older generation was not, “I just don’t know why I am still here.” What if the refrain; “I am just a dinosaur, old, outdated, unimportant and forgotten!” was never heard again? How glorious might it be if these melancholy repetitions were replaced with “I am a watchman on the wall of God’s City! I take my place with warrior-like vigilance to cry out for those who now fill the living rooms of the families I love, the school rooms of the academies that serve the youth of this city, and the community within which I live. I live my life now to fight in prayer for the spiritual life of the next generation. Those younger than me will not live their lives, will not struggle in this fallen world without my vigilant prayer cover. I am living for their well-being. I am praying for their flourishing! That is why I am here! I am a watchman on the wall!
Tony Souder has called you, the older generation, to not step down but kneel down; to not step back but step up! He is asking you to just imagine! What would happen if the homes where grandchildren love to visit, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes of our society became “houses of prayer?” What if those of us with more of God’s time spent more of that time interceding for young people than bemoaning their spiritual condition?
This is strong medicine for us older saints. Oh, how we need this! Heed the call! Join and become a watchman on the wall!”
Come join us — be a watchman on the wall! Get started with the Pray for Me Prayer Guides Today!