Their ideas seem so strange. They don’t appreciate the sacrifices of those who came before them. You know, the same complaints your parents had about you.
But this current generational shift is different than previous ones.
It’s no coincidence that the rise of the Church Growth Movement, megachurches and program-driven ministries happened on the heels of two world wars.
In World Wars I & II, top-down systems and structures provided the tools that helped the Allies save the world – twice! Then, through the Marshall Plan, the G.I. Bill and other massive commitments of people and resources, they rebuilt the world they had saved.
Highly dependable, structured systems provided a sense of security and stability in a fractured world.
Structures and Systems Came at a Cost
While those top-down methods and machines gave us structure, what most people didn’t realize was that they were also promoting the slow erosion of relationships.
No, we’re not quite living in the world depicted in the TV shows and movies of the 1950s and ’60s – with machines replacing people in a fully-automated, Jetsons-like, society. (Where is my flying car, by the way?!) But, to a larger degree than we realized, systems and structures have undermined true relationships.
We have access to more people and information than ever before. But we’re more lonely and less trusting of our neighbors, too.
So, yes. What this current generation needs, including what they need from church, is different than what our grandparents needed. And those needs may not be met by the churches our grandparents built.
Our grandparents took relationships for granted and needed to build structures.
Our kids and grandkids take those structures for granted and need to build relationships.
Structures still matter, of course. They always will.
But relationships matter more. And they always should.
Keep Relationships the Priority
If you minister in a Small Church, don’t neglect good systems and structures. Make and keep them solid. But structures need to support relationships, not vice versa.
Small Churches are not necessarily better at relationships than bigger churches. But, because of our size, it’s more important for us to put them front and center.
When people – especially younger people – choose to worship in a Small Church, it’s not because of our awesome programs. They can get those anywhere – and at a much higher level than we can do them.
They’re not coming to our churches for systems and structures. They’re coming because they want a place that focuses on relationships.
Let’s give them what they’re coming for. Because, in this instance, it also happens to be what Jesus said we should be all about.
And with people who love each other.
So what do you think? What is your church doing to meet people’s relationship needs?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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