A church’s life may depend upon its ability to pass the torch of faith to future generations of believers—but when young people stop walking through the sanctuary doors, does that mean it’s time for a church to reinvent itself?
That’s the question at the heart of Lee Kricher’s latest bookFor a New Generation: A Practical Guide for Revitalizing Your Church. As the senior pastor of Amplify Church in Pittsburgh, Kricher managed a difficult feat: Starting in 2003, he helped turn a congregation that was aging into extinction into what he calls a “new generation church”—a church whose congregants’ average age now matches the average age of its surrounding community. Now, he’s doing what he can to help other churches evaluate their programs, ministries, and practices with fresh eyes fixed on giving young people a place before the altar.
On this week’s episode of The Calling, CT managing editor Richard Clark joins Kricher for a conversation about how churches can create a compelling space for young people without sacrificing the integrity of the gospel they preach.
On how to keep a church from dying out: “I don’t think it’s a matter of prayer or sincerity. I don’t think that the church as a whole lacks a heart for God or a heart for wanting people to know him. I think it’s a matter of saying, ‘Hey, let’s deal with the realities that we’re surrounded with.’”
On the danger of digging your heels in: “If the next generation rejects the message of Christ, may God have mercy on them. But if they reject the message of Christ because we have assumed that they must accept it within the context of our preferred approach to church, then may God have mercy on us.”
On young visitors’ feedback: “It’s not like people were picketing out front: ‘Why don’t you reach us?’ The young people had already told us that we lost touch with them. They left.”
On “elevating your standards”: “There’s a gap—not between what you’re doing and what another church is doing, but between what you’re doing and what you could be doing. That’s the gap that we must be really committed to close.”
Subscribe to The Calling on iTunes.
The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Cray Allred.
Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more