The church has mastered even the most demanding spoken languages throughout the centuries in order to get the Bible into the hands of the common man. Now, in the twenty-first century, digital language has become very important. For years, churches have been looking for ways to better communicate in the digital world. There has been documentation that churches can learn from one another about what is working and what is not among their adult congregations. However, what about the area of youth ministry in churches? It is entirely possible with the advances in technology that digital languages have become the preeminent form of communication among many American teenagers. Will the church be able to become fluent in these languages as well, or will it be confused and unable to reach this generation?
As it stands now, many teenagers and young adults are migrating away from the church. “Nearly six in ten Millennials who grow up in churches leave to join the growing ranks of Americans with no religious affiliation, new research shows” (Brumley, 2016). The main reason, according to Barna research, is that relationships and engagement are not reaching sufficient depth. Therefore, “youth leaders are right to prioritize discipleship and relationship building (otherwise known as community)” (Brumley, 2016). It is imperative that churches today look for new ways to communicate the same unchanging Gospel message.
Dr. Mark Agnor is the Associate Pastor at Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley, WV, where he focuses on teaching Christian theology and spiritual disciplines to young adults. Dr. Agnor earned his Ed.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.