Who are those disappeared from the pew over the last 50 years?
The continuous Exodus from Christian churches or being unaffiliated with any religious groups (“nones”) becomes more like what Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old” (NASB, Exodus 10:9a). It is not limited to the young people anymore.
Considering those millennial and younger professionals up to 29 years old at the debut of PCs in 1981, they are now up to 37 years old and 65 years old, respectively. They are the one who represents the circle of the active members of the emerging culture. They are not young anymore. They are not a small part of the society, either. Instead, they will cover the entire age spectrum of our society in 10 years. The millennial have been born with a silver mouse in their hands. They are naturally the dominant players in the emerging culture saturated with technology. Those young professionals around in the pivotal year of the cultural shift became, by no choice, an early adopter of the digital culture. They are the ones “gone with the wind” from the churches. I call them the emergent group whom we desperately want to win back to the pew.
People age 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2015, account for 14.9 percent over the total US population according to US Census Bureau. The emergent group, thus, is taking up approximately 85 percents of the population. The major portion, if not all, of those who disappeared from the pew in the past decades, belongs to this group of people. To this group, there is a strong perception of the church, what it looks like and does things. Their perspectives about the traditional church have long been fixed and reinforced negative stereotypes of a church among them. As a result, without an understanding of the ‘real church,’ they don’t simply want to be identified affiliated with church anymore.
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