Headlines from First Thoughts

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Baptists of the Future- Part 2

Characteristics of 11/9 and 9/11 Baptists
I have noted several characteristics. Here are the first two.

1.) Loyalty to the institutional church is gone. Membership is declining among these generations, and financial contributions have followed suit. Roland Martinson, in a recent study of Lutheran demographics said, “75% percent of young men and women leave the church between ages 16-24, and 40% who leave return by age 35; 30% of those who return go to other denominations.” This is the case for younger Baptists as well. They drop out of church. If they return to church, they do not shop for “Baptist” churches or look for “Baptist principles” on the label.
Very few contribute to a church financially. Only 3 of 10 20somethings attend a church each week, and 30 percent of adults in their 20s donated to a church during the past year. This is not for lack of money. They are a wealthy generation. Many of them still live off their parents’ trust funds and the money they have earned while working or saved while living at home.

2.) Spiritual values are significant. Half of the children in these generations come from divorced families. Some react positively, others negatively. Children of divorced parents distrust their families of origin and are looking for a different kind of family.

In her book, The New Faithful, Colleen Campbell says that the new generations are moving toward orthodox expressions of their faith. Spirituality is up among young people. A recent UCLA study said that 20% of students are “highly religious,” and 75% of college students say that they “pray, discuss religion or spirituality with their friends, and find religion to be personally helpful.”

This may be why some of the mainline denominations are experiencing a decline in membership. For Baptists in the mainstream, this may mean that more people will be attracted to us and others will move away.

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