I got my copy of Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them last week and read it in a few hours. The book was written by Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes and I am so happy they sent me a copy. I had heard about some of the research presented in this book while at several conferences were Ed was at. The book breaks the unchurched down into four different groups:
- Always unchurched
- Friendly unchurched
- Hostile churched
They also identified four markers that will help you hear what the unchurched are looking for;
- Depth (and content)
- Cross-Generational connection
Now with the community this group is really looking for something deeper than what most churches typically provide. I still wonder when some of our churches are going to watch an episode or a season of Friends to get a clue as to how we do community. We need depth, we need fun, we need authenticity, we need honesty, and we need more than a 50 minute lecture each week.
One of the hardest things about reading this book is the frustration inside many churched 20-50 something’s that it seems to also shines a light on. I do wish that the book gave more direct quotes from the churches and pastors that are connecting with both the unchurched and with 20-50 year olds. Maybe I do not want a book about transition churches or comeback churches, but maybe I want to read a book about the similarities in churches that are getting it done. For all the research that Ed and the boys are doing I still feel like it is not getting heard by enough people. I get tired of sitting in meetings with pastors who want to connect with the unchurched or young adults, but are unwilling to investigate how other churches are doing it or even take a first step. These churches are running out of young people, much less young leaders to carry on the work of the church. I speak as a person who has spoken with dozens of young leaders who cannot find a church that will give them the room and resources. These leaders end up giving their leadership to other entities and putting the church lower on their priority list. The fact that your parents go to this church or that church does not bind you to it. I keep hearing leaders tell pastors that they need to find their own swagger and their own voice. I believe that most of our young adults need the same advice. In many cases, if we are going to reach the unchurched, these young adults are going to need to leave the church to find a place to use their voice. Stop suppressing the Gospel for the sake of being a part of your parents church. Yes, you have found a place there to serve, but look at your baptisms over the last year or five to see how many people your age have been in those waters. If the answer is 0 then YOU are not using your voice and I want to know why you haven’t.
- What is keeping you as a young adult from inviting people to your church?
- Are you as a church pastor empowering younger generations with the space and resources to use their voice to reach others? If no, why not? If yes, how?
- Ask more people in your church what they think it would take to reach more unchurched and young generations.
- Are you willing to support a young leader who wants to reach out in new ways?
Alright, so I got on a tear there for awhile. If you can’t tell I have some pent up frustrations and feel ready to do something more than talk and write. The short of it is that Lost and Found is a good place to begin a journey. You will find several hints about what is connecting the church with the unchurched. My prayer is that pastors would read this book and get their butts in gear. Visit some churches. Ask lots of questions. Be humble in the process and remember that what got you here won’t get you there. I could write about this for days, but it is time that I did something too. More to come on that in the future.