Three convergences go into this post. The first was Willow Creek’s decision to end Axis, something that I both understood and worried about. The second is Robert Wuthnow’s fact-filled and nearly undeniable claim that the generation of 18-30 year olds threatens the livelihood of the future of the church. And now I’ve read an article by Christian Smith. Here is a brief summary and I’m interested in your take, especially if you are in ministry to young adults.
Many today calls this “emergent adulthood” and so I’ve called them “EGens.”
Four social forces:
1. Growth in higher education to an expectation for many if not all.
2. Delay of marriage — average male marries at 27.
3. American and global economy that destabilizes careers.
4. Parents willing to extend financial support much longer than previously.
Manifestations in Christianity and Church:
1. The content and texture of the faith shifts for EGens.
2. The family life is not as stable.
3. EGens may miss church attendance for 15-20 years.
4. EGens participate in sexual serial monogamy — a series of partners.
5. EGens expect financial independence before marriage.
What to do? If our churches and leaders don’t devote their attention to these issues, and there are many more, they may wake up in 15 years in a world so unchurched they may not recognize it.
What can we do?