Grow where you are planted

Have you ever heard the phrase, Grow where you are planted? I think that many of our churches would benefit from incorporating that phrase as part of their mission or vision statement. Churches I have pastored, as well as churches I have attended, long for the time when the Sunday School rooms were filled; when children and youth were an integral part of the congregation.
Churches like LeValley and Berlin Center, the smaller, rural churches, exist within a vicious circle in the 21st century. The younger generations of the congregational families complain that there are not enough young people and/or programs directed to them, so they end up leaving for churches that are able to satisfy their needs. Therefore, the number of young families declines, rather than growing, resulting in a futile effort to enhance programming for children and youth.
My prayer has always been, and will continue to be, that millennials will feel called by God to stay in the churches where they were raised and become the voice of the younger generation in their home context.
Hear these words from Paul to the church at Corinth. From 1 Corinthians 7:17, 20, and 24: Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Paul was serious. He repeated the same statement three times in just eight verses of scripture.

Research shows that if we are invitational and show that we are followers of Jesus through our worship and our programming, people will come. Recent research from Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network found that 67 percent of millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77 percent would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.” While we have yet to warm to the word “traditional” (only 40 percent favor it over “modern”), millennials exhibit an increasing aversion to exclusive, closed-minded religious communities masquerading as the hip new places in town. For a generation bombarded with advertising and sales pitches, and for whom the charge of “inauthentic” is as cutting an insult as any, church rebranding efforts can actually backfire, especially when young people sense that there is more emphasis on marketing Jesus than actually following Him. Millennials “are not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion,” argues David Kinnaman, who interviewed hundreds of them for Barna Group and compiled his research in “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith.”

I pray for the church universal, not just Berlin Center and LeValley, that young people will understand the importance of being part of a body of Christ and, if they were raised in a church, that they will desire to maintain and nurture that church family relationship, if at all possible. I am going to read Kinnamon’s book. Would anyone like to read with me and discuss it?

Pastor Nancy

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