On the FM radio dial, the low numbers used to tend towardclassical music, while the high end jumped with rock. But now you get tochoose between seventies rock, light rock, heavy metal rock, alternativerock, classic rock, or even classic light rock (and don't forget the "AllElvis" stations). Welcome to Niche Time, a.k.a. the 1990s.

Long gone are the days when Sears Roebuck marketers claimed, in a cleverphrase, that theirs was the store for "the middle 85 percent of Americans."In the nineties, nobody gets 85 percent of a market. The goal is to capturea niche, a targeted market that shares specific attributes or interests.

And therein lies a dilemma for the church. Our theology tells us that Godso loved the whole world that he is not willing that any should perish. Theapostle Paul insists that "all of you who were baptized into Christ haveclothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave norfree, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:27-28,NIV). Just how are we to make that happen in our niche-crazyage?

We have been trying hard, to be sure. The Promise Keepers movement has beenurging us to "Bring Down the Walls" (their 1996 motto), especially betweenraces. Also, we are more sensitive than ever to the matter of gender. Thesewalls, while not yet down by any means, are lower than they used to be.

While race and gender are at least on our radar screens, we are still largelyunaware of two other major walls that keep the church from full unity andgrowth. One of those is age.

Watch how we socialize at church. When did you last have a conversation morethan a few seconds long with someone 20 years younger or older than yourself?We sit together in the same sanctuary, and ...

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