Grandma Nooma: the other side

So is the traditional church style exempt from generational examination?  Here we go.

After the article Nooma Grandma was posted I received a barrage of emails with a similar theme:  The progressive/modern/postmodern/emergent style churches are not the only ones guilty of limited age connection.  I agree.

Churches who have bucked and at times criticized the emergent, postmodern, or progressive movements have seen success in retaining an older demographic.  How have they faired among the youth?

Not much better than the former has with the older generation.  Go to a self proclaimed “Old Fashion” church and what will you see?   Is there a vibrant community of all-aged worshippers?  Unfortunately many times there is not.

Now I mistakenly did not qualifying in the article Nooma Grandma and I will not repeat that mistake.  So here is the qualifier:  Not every church that considers itself traditional has failed at reaching 20 and 30 somethings.  (Not every progressive church has failed in the mature member category.)

However there must be some admission that traditional models have struggled to reach younger generations.  The amount of 20 and 30 somethings in traditional churches is dropping.  Some would be quick to blame the young generation for abandoning the faith.  But you have to wonder, has the traditional church abandoned a generation?

Has traditionalism, dare I say fundamentalism, had short comings in its abilities to reach a generation that interacts socially through entirely new medias? Are the internet, Facebook, and TV only instruments of the world and the Devil or can they be used for the kingdom?  ( I know my Dad’s years on television were helpful to many)

Truly the problem runs both ways.  Regardless of the predominant style/methodology of your church, concessions should be made to accommodate all members or potential members of the body of Christ.  As a church leader or member you have the opportunity to accommodate or separate.  Too often traditional Churches have raced to the later.

At times accommodating is considered sinful.  Some churches refuse to change graphics, update the auditorium, talk to people because they have buckles on their shoes (true story) but, love suffers long and is kind, it is not easily provoked and does not think evil.

I am not talking about sacrificing doctrine, forgetting the old paths, becoming theologically liberal.   I am talking about style and methodology. Whether traditional or contemporary every church has a style.  And that style must be constructed to be Biblically appropriate while crossing generational barriers.

Grandma can be cool with Nooma if grandma will watch with an open mind.

Do you feel your church has succeeded in bridging the age gap?  Any ideas on how this can be done?


  1. I agree that traditional style/fundamentalist churches have struggled in the past at attracting the younger age denomination. However, I believe that there is a ground swell of movement back toward the younger generation among churches that would be considered traditional. I believe that a case in point would be Lancaster Baptist Church. Staunchly conservative, LBC attracts 500-600 teenagers alone every week. This is outside the multiple college and career age young people who attend and are not a part of the on campus Bible college. I believe that it is possible to stay strong on convictions and standards, and be able to have a vibrant, exciting, next generation ministry.

    I find it interesting that when people discuss standards, technology is almost never an issue. The vast majority of the discussions revolve around music. I believe that the key is separating musical preference from musical “doctrine.” Some would argue that the use of a guitar in a service is wrong simply because you are using a guitar. I would ask how the guitar is used, and what association one is attempting utilize with the use of the guitar. There are many factors that make the situation so sticky. What are your thoughts on the ability of fundamentalists to reach the next generation while sticking to their standards, and why do you think music always seems to be the issue?

    • Really like to hear your perspective. There is no doubt Lancaster Baptist is a fantastic example of reaching the entire spectrum of age. Good point.
      I think there will be a return to a more structured non-culture connected worship styles in the future Taylor. I think it will be fashionable to not be so culturally hip. These things go in cycles and I fully expect a return.

      I think it is important that when you use Lancaster Baptist (or Campus Church) as an example you have to keep in mind how many of those college students attending have an option? The same with the teens? Great thoughts keep them coming!

  2. I would say the key to reaching the younger in our society is not necessarily in the music style and technology you use but in the sincerity of the church. Gen Y and younger can usually spot false advertising in seconds. As a graphic designer, that’s been clear both in my education and my career. You don’t get Millennials with flash, you get them with substance. So, if you’ve got super flashy graphics, lights, smoke, rock star praise leaders, and a super entertaining preacher but no Jesus, no love, no grace, no truth, then you’ll lose them faster than a sincere traditional/fundamental church would. It’s all about what’s underneath.

    Now, this is coming from a Millennial who no longer attends a fundamental baptist church. When my life crumbled beneath me, the fundamentalists left me to ruin. People I would have judged as weak in their faith because of their worship practices were the ones who showed their sincere love for Christ and for me during the most painful part of my life. For me, it’s all about the reality of Christ in the life of the church. Everything else is just personal preference.

    • Thanks Rachel. So true. I am thankful that you are in a place where you are experiencing God’s love not only from him but from your church community.

  3. As a missionary heading to another culture, prehaps evaluating a culture not your own is easier than yours. We need to get back to understanding what fundamentalism actually was, not what it is thought if today. The fundamentalism of the past was one that focused on doctinal purity in the midst of denominational drift. It seperated the doctrine of apostasy from the docrine of genuine Christian orthodoxy. Today fundamentalism has become externally focused. Battles over doctrinal orthoxy within denominational drift have been replaced by practical differences amongst those who are doctrinally orthodox. There needs to be a re-thinking of the issue that divide the sheep from the goats in proffessing Chirstianity. Many churches are loosing their young people because their is a dearth of doctrinal depth and legitimate Biblical application. The priesthood of the believer has been ignored and people are taught to follow a man rather think Biblicaly. Media is a powerful tool, and ought be used to the glory of God.

  4. THANK YOU Joel! Few people understand the origin of fundamentalism as a movement focused on preserving the lines of orthodox Christianity.

    Your comments about depth and individual priesthood, in my opinion, could not be more accurate. Great thoughts!

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