In his book You Lost Me, David Kinnaman talks about the research he has done at Barna Research about the numbers of young adults who are leaving the church or, never finding it in the first place. A lot of what he has written we can verify from our Kairos ministry, a young adult worship service we started over 8 years ago. There is greater detail of how Kairos happened in my book, In Real Time.
Pastors of other churches will call me and ask me how we reach young adults in our setting.
As I tell them some of the things we have done, they will inevitably respond by saying something like, “Well, we just can’t get young people to come to our church.”
To which I will answer, “No, they won’t come to YOUR church. You don’t speak their language. You don’t pay attention to their culture. You don’t listen to their questions…in short…everything about you and YOUR church tells these young adults no one here cares about them.”
- We wouldn’t send a missionary to Japan and not require the missionary to learn Japanese.
- We wouldn’t send someone into tribal lands and not expect them to understand the ways of the tribe.
- Once the missionaries learn the language, the customs and the values of a culture, then they can translate the gospel in ways the people can best hear it.
- The Gospel doesn’t change, but the way we communicate it must change.
We have to understand that our churches—wherever they are located—are on the front lines of the missionary movement and Nashville is the buckle of the Bible belt.
- Missions is no longer “over there.”
- Missions is “right here.”
- And that makes us missionaries.
Everyone one of us is on the front lines of places where the Gospel has never been heard. So, you have to study the language. Pay attention to the culture and then, translate the gospel into your setting. The church must stop playing defense in our culture. We have to find ways to get the gospel to them. Frankly, they aren’t coming to us.
No, they won’t come to YOUR church. But here is what we have found out. They will come to THEIR church. They will come to a place that tells them the truth about Jesus in a way they can understand, in a way that makes sense for their living. In fact, they will stand in line to get into such a place.
Churches in North America have to stop being OUR church or YOUR church…we have to get back to being HIS church…so we in time, can become THEIR church.