Jump directly to the Content

The X Factor

What have we learned from the rise, decline, and renewal of "Gen-X" ministries?

When the willows sway in South Barrington, the evangelical world notices. So Willow Creek Community Church provoked headlines in 2006 when leaders said they would end Axis as everyone knew it. As recently as 2001, about 2,000 young adults had gathered on Saturday nights for alternative music and relevant teaching. But before temporarily closing in 2006, Axis attracted fewer than 400 twenty-somethings. How could a trend-setting ministry decline so severely in just five years?

Due in no small part to Willow's example, ministry leaders across the country once viewed separate, age-targeted services as the key to reaching a generation largely absent from the churches built by their Boomer parents. Little more than 10 years after Willow launched Axis in 1996, many of these once-prosperous twenty-something ministries have folded, spun off, or morphed. Leaders from these ministries have learned differing lessons from the experiment. Some are now advocating new messages for reaching the emerging ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

October
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
A Word, a Song, and a Moment with Worship Recording Artist Annie Sander
A Word, a Song, and a Moment with Worship Recording Artist Annie Sander
After listening to her new worship CD Brighter Day, I wanted to know more about the heart that drives Annie Sander's powerful voice.
From the Magazine
What Comes After the Ex-Gay Movement? The Same Thing That Came Before.
What Comes After the Ex-Gay Movement? The Same Thing That Came Before.
Old-school evangelical leaders once knew the value of “care” over “cure.”
Editor's Pick
How Might the COVID-19 Crisis Reshape our Churches for Good?
How Might the COVID-19 Crisis Reshape our Churches for Good?
We have a unique opportunity to reset, pivot from old patterns, and look afresh at the future.
close