We are living in a transitional period of time in the life of First Baptist Church Muncie. In many ways, we find ourselves in a drastically different world. Muncie is not the same city that it was 50 years ago; the world is not the same world. We have moved from being in the center of the community to being on the fringes. I am not talking about geographically, but culturally.
For those of you who’ve been around a while, you may notice more empty pews these days. This is not a characteristic unique to First Baptist Church Muncie. It’s happening all over the country. Thom Rainer tells us that 65% of the Builder generation (born before 1946) attends church on a weekly basis. The next generation (Boomers, born between the years 1946 and 1964) is about** 35%. Their kids (Generation X, born generally from the early 60s to the early 80s) attend church at rates around **15%. The youngest generation (termed Generation Y, born from the mid 80s on) attends church at about 4%.
It is mind boggling to see such a drop in church attendance. No doubt, our world is changing. It is clear that we cannot continue to pretend that we exist in 1950. We are called, as a congregation, to navigate these cultural changes as we follow the Spirit of God. In many ways, we are returning to the world much like the early church. We, as the church, are no longer in the center of society. We no longer have the prestige, the power, the privilege of building a big building and watching droves of people flock through our doors. Our posture will need to change; we will have to focus outwardly.
A group of young adults has been discussing the cultural shifts and considering ways to navigate the changes in our world. At the beginning of 2013, a small group will be experimenting with new models of ministry, in order to reach our community with the message of Christ. I hope that each of you will pray that God will direct First Baptist Church Muncie as we respond to God’s leading. I am sure that God will resource this congregation to fulfill His calling. You will hear more of these experimental ministries in the coming months. I mentioned them now so that you will join me in praying for God’s leading as we plan.