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Generations Impact on Faith Formation

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  • 1. Generations: What Impact on Faith Formation? Beth Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress August 2010 All Rights Reserved © 2010 Augsburg Fortress
  • 2. 2010: Five Living Generations • G.I. 1901-1926 (84+) • Builder 1927-1945 (65-83) • Boomer 1946-1964 (46-64) • Gen X 1965-1981 (29-45) • Millennial 1982-Present (0-28)
  • 3. Who is in our mainline churches? 65% 35% 18% 4%
  • 4. The Builders 1927-1945 (65-83)
  • 5. The Builders 1927-1945 (65-83) • Wealthier, physically fit, and savvy consumers • Unique formative years: 1930’s to 1960’s (suffering thru depression and threat of cold war, yet enjoyed prosperity of the 50’s and 60’s • Conservative—don’t rock the boat! • As they age a) connect with grandchildren; b) think and act young; c) travel; d) loyalty
  • 6. The Boomers 1946-1964 (46-64)
  • 7. The Boomers 1946-1964 (46-64) • Formative years: 50’s to early ’80’s • Values: powerful message of idealism, sense of right/wrong • Activism of first wave of Boomers (Viet Nam war protests) • Empowerment: “We can make a difference!” • Experienced family of origin as a strong unit • Live life to the fullest, unlimited opportunities, career-driven/ competitive
  • 8. Adulthood of Boomers 1946-1964 (46-64) • Dual career generation • Struggle w/ marriage: high divorce rate • Struggle w/ parenting: neglecting children • Brilliant in the workplace: --Define self in terms of accomplishment --No rush to retirement • Forever young mentality • Free-spirited, boisterous • Comfortable in the spotlight • Consumption-oriented
  • 9. Gen-X 1965-1981 (29-45)
  • 10. Gen-X 1965-1981 (29-45) • First generation of latch-key kids • Formative years: ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s • Much of their life is about survival: – Widespread divorce (40% raised in single parent household) – Parents lacked time to spend with kids (dual career or single parent households) – Permissiveness (parents compensating for lack of time) • Mobile society (multiple schools)
  • 11. Core Values of Gen-X 1965-1981 (29-45) • Independence • High expectations of “having it all…now” • Self-reliance • Marriage is disposable • Us-against-them (generationally) • Non-racist, non-judgmental generation • Strong female generation (males seeking identity/masculinity) • “The Computer Generation”
  • 12. A few ways to reach the Gen X generation 1965-1981 (29-45) • A high quality website as an entry point to church • More intentional connection w/ preschool & school age families • Community events/Service events (connect) • Inspiring, multi-sensory worship • Authenticity/transparency
  • 13. Then, how do we keep them? • Small groups to build and enrich community…often outside traditional church settings • Kid friendly worship (children’s time, cry-room) • Hands-on service opportunities • Educational programs that relate to life issues (parenting, financial planning) • Help them become significant leaders in the church community • Communicate using technology (emails, good website, Facebook, etc.)
  • 14. Millennial 1982-2006 (4-28)
  • 15. Millennial 1982-2006 (4-28) • Formative years: 1980’s to 2010 • Two events that define this generation: September 11 and Hurricane Katrina • Most adult-supervised kids ever (vs. Gen X) • Raised with strong family ties & parental involvement • Optimistic and enthusiastic
  • 16. Millennial world-view 1982-2006 (4-28) • Focused on education • Team players • Active in the world: social service activities, concern about the environment, etc. • “The Giving Generation”: Helping others in record numbers • Declining teen pathologies (compared to Boomers & Gen X) • Digital “natives” • Active in social networks • Non-judgmental re: race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference
  • 17. A few ways to reach Millennials • Websites & social networking taken for granted • Text-messaging: their communications tool of choice • Many service event options • Intergenerational activities • Inspiring, multi-sensory worship
  • 18. Then, how do we keep them? • Communication via social networking & text messaging • Small groups to build and enrich community…often outside traditional church settings • Kid friendly worship • Hands-on service opportunities • Educational programs that relate to life issues • Intergenerational faith formation activities • Help them become involved in church with small, flexible commitments of time
  • 19. American Cultural Challenges • From 1984 to 2007, those who identify themselves as Christian dropped from 85% to 77%* • Americans with no religious identification: 1998 8% vs. 2009 16%* • Regular attendees in the average congregation were older than age 60: ** – 25% in 1998 – 30% in 2007 • Regular adult participants younger than age 35: ** – 25% in 1998 – 20% in 2007 * Gallup, 2009 ** General Social Surveys, 2010
  • 20. Congregational programming reflects the relative absence of young adults (or vice versa?) Religious education offered for those: • age 12 and younger = 82% • 13-14 year olds = 64% • 15-19 year olds = 53% • Young adults or college students = 37% * National Congregations Study, 2009
  • 21. Research How Young People View Their Lives, Futures, Religion, and Politics: A Portrait of Generation “Next” http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/300.pdf Religion Among the Millenials http://pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Demographics/Age/ millennials-report.pdf National Congregations Study: American Congregations at the Beginning of the 21st Century http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/Docs/NCSII_report_final.pdf
  • 22. Some good news for the church… • Teens & young adults want to serve others • Teens & young adults care about social justice issues • Teens & young adults often self-identify as “spiritual” • Teens & young adults crave community
  • 23. At Augsburg Fortress and sparkhouse, we think that we in the church have a chance to engage teens and young adults if we focus less on how “we’ve always done faith formation” and more on “helping them follow Jesus”
  • 24. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if we may assist you! Beth Lewis beth.lewis@augsburgfortress.org http://twitter.com/bethalewis www.augsburgfortress.org/blog