There is a business that I drive past every day in on the way to work here at my church in northern Virginia, and I’ve got no real desire to stop in and check it out. It’s a local horse riding school right across the street from my church. Many have obviously been before, many are members. This riding school is where you can learn to ride horses. I’ve ridden horses a few times before but I’m not really a horse person. I don’t have anything against horses or horse people, I’m fine if you want to be a horse person. And I’m assuming that this riding school is a good place to learn how to ride a horse, if that’s your thing. But I didn’t grow up being a horse person, I didn’t ride horses growing up, my parents weren’t horse people, my family wasn’t a horse family. So, there’s honestly not a draw for me to go check it out, even though I don’t have anything against it. I’m just not a horse person.
So what’s the point of that illustration? I think it illustrates the way that many people think when they think about church, and it better helps us understand what we’re up against. Just like I would say “I’m not a horse person,” we’ve got more and more people that would honestly say, “I’m not a church person.” It’s not necessarily that they have anything against God or church people, it’s just not their thing. They didn’t grow up in church, their parents weren’t church people, maybe they went a few times as a kid but it wasn’t a good experience, and so now they drive past dozens of churches a day, never having any more inclination to ever visit than I do of visiting this horse riding school.
Many people are just not church people. In fact, that’s the fastest growing religious identification in the U.S., what’s called the Nones, those that check None when asked to identify their religion. A quarter of the US population now identify as None, and what should be more alarming is that those under 30, the percentage is 40%. Almost half of the next two generations. Whatever our approach has been as a church isn’t working anymore.
What’s at stake is that Christians don’t believe that someone’s eternal destiny depends on whether or not they ride horses or not. However, we better believe that eternity is at stake if someone rejects Christianity and remains far from God. Our approach isn’t working? What are we willing to adapt to see the next generation come to Jesus?