Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Last Harvest

I am reading several very good books. The Last Harvest by Witold Rybczynski is about a new real estate development in southern Chester County which we watched every Sunday from ground breaking to near completion. The story is told in a very easy to read fashion in a conversational way by an award winning author. This allows the reader to learn the history of residential real estate developments in general and in southeastern Pennsylvania in particular beginning with William Penn and a little bit about the process by which a community develops from idea to plans, hearings, permits, construction and occupancy as well as the economic cycle in which a development strives and/or fails almost as a participant.

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.

Copyrighted 2008


Blogger Diane R said...

You mean that churches will have to treat singles as a part of the church and with respect? That will be interesting and perhaps a challenge for them. I do not agree with the old hashed-out "singles' group" models because they isolate marrieds from singles. If you've ever visited a singles' group you'll see the unhealthy atmosphere. In addition, the postmodern marrieds in Gen X do not wish to be separated from their single friends and vice-versa. Maybe they are healthier in their view than we are?

7:38 PM

Blogger Frank Creed said...

Culturally, the US follows Europe's social trends by about eighty years. Less than one percent of europeans are church-going.

To avoid this trend the church must provide a real physical AS WELL AS spiritual community in our high-tech world. We must make a real difference in real lives.

To God be the glory,
Frank Creed--novelist & founder of the Lost Genre Guild
Book Review Blog:
Lost Genre Guild Site:
Lost Genre Guild Blog:
The Underground Series:

12:43 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home