My name is Doug and I am the minister at Palace Avenue.
As we continue to try to work out God’s plan and purpose for us here at Palace Avenue I would like to share with you some thoughts.
I was talking to a young person the other day and asked why young people didn’t come to church. She replied, ‘Let’s ask them’ She then googled on her phone and asked the question ‘Why doesn’t generation X come to church?’ There were 3 prominent answers that kept recurring, so , as they say on the X-Factor, here are the results, in no particular order.
- First impressions count. This generation will not hang around to see if things are going to improve. They are not interested to see if next time will be better. The decision about church is determined very quickly.
- Every response (and there were a lot) demanded authenticity. Most young people seem to think that the church is not genuine. They said that the church would say one thing and do another! Some questioned if the church really believed in the claims they were making.
- We are not relevant because we are boring! We don’t seem to be happy, we don’t tackle the right sort of questions and we are seen as stuck in a time warp.
We might not agree and feel we want to argue with the findings but the reality is that this is how young people ( and I would go as far as to say the majority of most people regardless of age) view the church.
As I consider the way forward at Palace Avenue I quote from Andrew Clark’s editorial from Scripture Unions Encounter with God.
“It is often said that there is no sense in thinking that if we continue to do what we’ve always done in the same way that we will get a different result. In recent decades many Western countries have experienced a substantial decline in numbers and enthusiasm. So maybe it is a good time to re-evaluate how we ‘do’ church. Without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, can we get away from the patterns of church life that are tired and predictable and rediscover some of the fresh creative ways of building a community that Jesus modelled with his disciples?”
As we peer into the future it is important that we continue to think and pray. I would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts. In our current way of ‘doing church’ what is the baby and what is the bathwater? What should we change? Are we brave enough to embrace change? Is it time to change?