Is the ‘missing generation’ still missing?
The Evangelical Alliance (EA) has published a new resource that focuses on young adults in our churches
Entitled Changing church - is the ‘missing generation’ still missing? the resource is designed 'to help us reflect on this as a church', says the EA.
It pulls together in-depth analysis of research in this area of ministry and extensive conversations and interviews with hundreds of church leaders, young adults, practitioners and academics. It covers issues from social media to racial injustice, harsh realities, good news stories and transformative innovations.
The resource will help us 'listen to the voices of young adults, and ask the right questions as we seek to create a thriving community for all generations and opportunities for significant numbers of 20s and 30s to come to faith,' the EA continues. It comes more than ten years after the EA published The Missing Generation (2009) due to the dearth of 20s and 30s in many churches. This is still the case for many churches today, but there are reasons for hope, the resource underlines.
In capturing up to date research, the resource presents encouraging findings from recent months: namely that one in two young adults have prayed regularly (online or offline) during the pandemic; and that one in two young adults have attended services (online or offline) in the same period.
This suggests that 'the coincidence of the impact of the pandemic and the increased accessibility of church services have led to these high proportions of engagement.' Furthermore, it is 'striking and encouraging for the purposes of this resource' that engagement in both prayer and church attendance has been higher for young adults than any other age group.
However, it is 'not all good news' - a significant proportion of this generation is engaging less than before.
'When reflecting on figures like these it is important to tread the fine line between and unquestioning optimism and jaded cynicism,' the resource states. 'What these figures do not signify is that there will be millions of new young adults who will be waiting outside of the doors of our churches ready to worship as we return to normal.
'But they do tell us that the pandemic has caused huge numbers of this generation to engage more with church and to pray for the first time. Therefore, to some extent, we should no longer refer to them as ‘the missing generation’.'
In introducing the resource, Gavin Calver, the EA's General Director, said he hopes it 'will help your ministry to young adults as you navigate the changing landscape in the coming months.'
'Despite the challenges, the coronavirus pandemic has inspired many, especially 20s and 30s, to explore faith and ask deeper questions,' Gavin wrote. 'But there’s still a large number of unreached and ‘unchurched’ young adults.
'We pray this new resource will encourage, inform and inspire you as you seek to make disciples in all generations.'
The resource features a booklet backed by articles and videos, including this interview with Marjorie Allan about culture, discipleship and hope at The Well, a Baptist church in Sheffield.