I am reading several very good books. The Last Harvest by Witold Rybczynski is about a new real estate development in southern
After the Baby Boomers by Robert Wuthnow is a more academically challenging book with numerous charts and statistics documenting how the post baby boomers are shaping the future of American religion by staying away from churches in droves. It is interesting that these two books are related in that churches target married people with children residing in suburban real estate developments like New Daleville. The post baby boomers generation is marrying later, having children later, moving frequently and staying away from churches. This is true even among church groups encouraging early marriages. The un-church segment of this group is increasing. Churches have a tendency to wait for these people to marry, have kids and return to their roots in the church. These people are a significant part of “the harvest that is plentiful” yet the church has responded “but the laborers are few.” There is no question that the words of the Lucan Jesus were uttered in the missionary context. Not is there any question that the church has not met the challenge uttered by Jesus.
It is easy for churches to target recent home buyers. For the last harvest, the churches will need to re-tool their marketing. More importantly churches need to provide services for those people who have delayed marriage and making important life decisions perhaps because there is no support system in place to help people the church considers to be adults. They have turned to internet dating sites because they do not have any alternatives. They have probably made a number of bad choices. Churches provide Sunday school and youth groups to target families with young people but no services for a group that may represent people between 20 and 40 numbering over one hundred million people.
There are exceptions. There are churches which have organized singles groups for those between 20 and 30 and singles groups for those over thirty. However even churches which have made this effort are being impacted by the demographics described in After the Baby Boomers. The most important point made by Wuthnow is that being married or unmarried is the single most factor affecting church attendance.
I will be discussing these and a number of other issues which have been overlooked by the religious communities in the USA.