Interesting demographics for the Church
Dear Woodview friends and family,
Not long ago, the Population Association of America released some findings at their annual meeting. The Pew Research Center offered six "notable demographic trends". The Church should be aware of these trends and, if necessary, adjust to them.
Here are some of the trends Pew Research mentioned:
1. Millennials are the largest adult generation in the United States, but they are starting to share the spotlight with Generation Z. This year, Millennials (ages 23-38) will outnumber Baby Boomers (55-73). For years, sociologists have talked about how the Baby Boomers changed the face of America simply because of their numbers. If that is true, Millennials will have an equal affect. And Generation Z will also. Gen Z'ers (7-22) are on track to be the best-educated and most diverse generation yet.
2. Hispanics are projected to be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the US electorate when voters cast their votes in 2020.
3. The American family continues to change. In 1968, 7% of mothers were unmarried, today it is 25%. Part of the increase is due to the growing share of unmarried parents cohabiting (35%). Stay-at-home parents account for about one-in-five parents, roughly what it was 25 years ago. 12% of parents with a child younger than 18 at home are also caring for an adult.
4. Immigration in the United States is approaching a record high. The 44 million foreign-born people living in the U.S. in 2017 accounted for 13.6% of the population. That was the highest since 1910, when immigrants were 14.7% of the total population. The record share was in 1890, when immigrants were 14.8% of the total. The United Nations reports that there are 25 nations or territories that have higher shares of immigrants than the U.S.
5. Incomes in the United States are rising, but not everyone is seeing the rise equally. The disparity is more pronounced among some racial and ethnic groups than others -- for example, the disparity between low income Asians and high income Asians grew the most; the disparity between low income Hispanics and high income Hispanics grew the least.
So, as I look at these findings, what do I think it means for the church moving forward. It is obvious that the United States is becoming even more diverse. We used to call the United States a "melting pot" because everyone eventually all kind of melted together into Americanism. Today there doesn't seem to be as much melting, and there is greater diversity. Churches can respond by trying to become more niche focused...but I don't see that strategy used in the New Testament church.
As I look at these findings I also see that people feel great pressure and stress and insecurity -- whether it is financial or relational. The breakup rate for cohabiting couples is 50% and the divorce rate for couples who lived together before marriage is still somewhere between 50-70%. Children are growing up without the benefit of both parents. And those with low income or slow rising income feel the stress and pressure of increasing costs for healthcare, education, etc. So people are hurting and looking for help and comfort.
The way I believe the Church should respond to this information is to go back to basics -- love God and love others. Make Jesus the focus -- not this group or that group (unless you are trying to target them with the message of Jesus, just as missionaries adapt to the culture of the people they are trying to reach. But when they come to Jesus, you make it about Him instead of their culture). Point people to Jesus! There is an old hymn that says, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." If we point to Jesus, if we preach about Jesus, if we lead people to Jesus, if we make it about Jesus -- then it stops being about me and it stops being about you and it stops being about our differences.
I sincerely hope you will worship with us this Sunday as we begin our series on Ephesians. I am completely in awe of the wonderful truth of my salvation and I can't wait to share what I'm discovering with you!
Jon B. Stradtner