Welcome NOC Blog Tour

Sam Rainer

April 21, 2009


The National Outreach Convention will be making a stop at this blog on Wednesday. They’ll post a couple of questions in the comments, and I’ll reply to get the conversation going. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts. I’ll be leading a workshop at the convention in November, so I hope to see some of you there!

9 comments on “Welcome NOC Blog Tour”

  1. NOC says:

    Hi Sam! We are excited to have you on the NOC platform this year. In your session, you’ll be talking about re-engaging young adults who have left the church.
    Do you find that many have left their faith, as well as their church? If not, why is it so important that we try to bring them back to a local church?

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    I’m excited about being with you guys in November. It should be a great convention this year. I’m looking forward to adding some value to the conversation about reaching and keeping the younger generation.

    It’s not a surprise – it’s clear that we’re losing the younger generation. Most church leaders know anecdotally that many young adults leave the church in their early twenties. Our research shows that 70% of those that leave do so between the short, four-year window of 18 to 22. This dynamic is not new, and some do eventually return, but this trend does not bode well for the health of the church.

    Some that leave do so because they were never truly a part of the body – they were present in the church but did not have a relationship with Jesus. Some will leave even if the church does everything right. Most of these dropouts, however, do not lose their faith. Rather, they simply do not see the church as an essential part of their lives. Other people and social venues are more vital to them than their brothers and sisters in the local church.

    The younger generation is not mad at the church, nor do they have great desires for personal freedom from the church. One of the biggest issues, however, is the gap between the personal beliefs of the younger generation and their church’s stated beliefs. Half of ALL young adult churchgoers (not just dropouts) state that they are not in line with the beliefs of their church. The dropout crisis isn’t found in style, venue, programs, or location. This problem runs much deeper.

    To be blunt, we have converted our children yet neglected to disciple them. Our children grow up in the church, experience all the programs and fellowship, but they do not engage in why the mission of the church is so important. When they go to college or find a new social network, the church’s role is replaced. They have no need to maintain what they perceive as their parent’s social circle now that they have their own.

    In order to reclaim this generation, churches must be intentional about showing how they are the way God’s mission is accomplished. They must demonstrate how people can be part of something bigger than themselves rather than just being another social venue. And it’s vitally important that we retain and reclaim this generation because they know better than anyone how to reach their own generation for Jesus.

  3. kdb1411 says:

    Hey Outreach: Thanks for providing us Sam’s blog. It is one of the most informative and best written in the blogosphere. You really have a winner in him!

  4. lindy says:

    Sam, you write “In order to reclaim this generation, churches must be intentional about showing how they are the way God’s mission is accomplished. They must demonstrate how people can be part of something bigger than themselves rather than just being another social venue.”

    How are you seeing churches showing that they are the way God’s mission is accomplished, especially to youth and this generation of church dropouts?

  5. NOC says:

    kdb – he sure is!
    Sam – thanks for the comprehensive response…
    Let’s talk about those young adult “church droptouts” what do you find they are looking for in their lives and how can/should a church leader respond based on that knowledge?

  6. Sam Rainer says:

    Lindy = great question. One of the keys is older adults investing in the lives of teens and college-age students. This relationship takes the initiative of the adults – students typically don’t seek out the older generation, but they are receptive to them.

    The more students and adults serve the community and world together, the more cohesive the church’s mission becomes. Serving together can happen in a number of ways, from international mission trips to partnering with a local ministry. They key is to make meaningful impact in a community with all generations serving side=by-side.

    Then you’ve got to tell the rest of the church about the successes! In many cases, a church will get it right and not champion the success with the rest of the body.

  7. Sam Rainer says:

    NOC – Young adults not only want to know the purpose of the church, they want to know how the mission of the church is accomplished. Like Mark writing in his gospel to a Roman audience, this generation wants to know what the church is doing, not only saying.

    There is a generational difference between younger adults and older adults. And there is something to learn from both. In general, the older generation is more loyal to organizations, institutions, and social venues. For them, church activity was tantamount to obedience. This generation was loyal to their church, and what their church did is what they did.

    In general, younger adults are looking more for a place of meaning and less for a place of loyalty. The younger generation sees the purpose of the church and thus gets on board with the mission – activity itself is not necessarily obedience, but rather the consequence of church being a meaningful part of their lives. For this generation, the leadership must show that the activity of the church has a driving purpose behind it and that the church is making a difference in society.

  8. AA Morella says:

    Sam: What time will you be speaking at the NOC? I am a layman in my church and I would like to bring a group to hear you. I had not considered coming until I heard you would be there. Thanks!

  9. Sam Rainer says:

    Thanks AA Morella. The schedule is not set in stone, but I’ll let you guys know once it is.

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