Adelaide Chapter

Recovering the missing generation in our churches by Dr Gordon Stanger

September 29, 2023

Many of the churches across the ‘western world’ are in crisis. Their congregations are ageing, and in some cases, they are vanishing to zero. Entire denominations are well on the way to extinction. This is most obvious in the age structure of congregations. There is an entire missing generation comprising teens, twenties and young families. In many cases children were brought up in a Christian environment, went to Sunday school, and were prayed for by their parents, but then fell off a demographic cliff, never to be seen in church again. We will look at who they are, the reasons why they left, and possible approaches to bringing them back.

Then there is the rise of ‘nones’, who are those who have never had any religious affiliation or interest of any kind. Their view of Christianity is woeful. Most have never had any spiritual conversation in their entire life! The passive easy-going feel-good church has failed these ‘nones’, and failed to seriously ‘go fishing’ as Jesus repeatedly taught his disciples. Jude so graphically put it:

“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire”.

The ‘missing generation’ is our mission field. Many of these missing youngsters were driven away by the church itself, whose attitudes, false preoccupations and blunders have sometimes been less than Christ-like! Today’s missing generation has grown into a culture which is dramatically different from those of their parents. They have moved on, but the church has not (with few laudable exceptions). This crisis in Western Christianity MUST be addressed as a matter of great urgency. It is the first call upon the 21st century church. It will be hard for those traditionalists who are much older; and probably impossible for those locked into extremes of either liberalism or inflexible fundamentalism. We need love, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to find the way forward.

Gordon’s talk is available on YouTube

Dr Gordon Stanger

Dr Gordon Stanger is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is an RFA committee member and is semi-retired.