I began this post with a little background and a couple influencers (Technology and Social Media). Take a look back at Part 1 if you missed it. I’m picking up with influencer #3.
3. Changing Families: Today’s families look a lot different than the families many of us grew up in. Quite frankly, today’s families look a lot different than we wish they looked. Divorce continues to affect around 50% of marriages (there seems to be no difference for churched families) and the divorce rate escalates for 2nd and 3rd marriages. Blended families are the norm, and dual custody often leads to kids who attend every other week. Multi-generational families are increasing with grandparents having more and more influence and responsibility for raising their grandchildren. Parents today tend to be over protective, over indulgent, overly permissive, and they find their own social status in their kids and the activities in which they push them to be involved. Our communities (our Jerusalems) are full of all types of families. Not just ones that look like ours or fit a particular stereotype. Our command is to reach them all.
4. Religious Plurality: There seems to be a tendency toward religious pluralism and a tolerance and acceptance for a “whatever works for you” theology. Additionally (and unfortunately), a strong belief in Christ and a practice of His teachings is being equated to bigotry and intolerance. Researchers are reporting that as little as 15% of millennials claim to be Christian and that Islam and Mormonism are the fastest growing religions in the US. It seems to me that we had better be putting a lot of our time and energy into teaching kids not only what to believe, but why they believe it! It’s not going to be enough to simply teach Bible stories; we must help kids know how to defend what they believe to those who might challenge them. I worry that we may not be preparing our kids for the reality and future they may face.
Tomorrow morning I’ll post the final installment. Check back then for influencers 5-7.