Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where are the other generations?

Third Avenue Baptist Church (or 3ABC) is a downtown church in Louisville, KY that a group of young Mark Dever proteges have joined and are reforming (Capitol Hill BC Midwest?). One of the elders, Bruce Keisling, offered this post about their lack of middle aged and senior adults:

Where are the other generations?
By Bruce Keisling August 8, 2006
Last week we had some visitors come to one of our services and in talking with them afterward they asked me a question that is frequently asked. They asked, "Where are the other generations?" By that they mean where are the middle-aged and senior citizens. They also observed that this same phenomenon is true in some other Southern Baptist churches that are kindred spirits to us here in Louisville.
There are two primary reasons for the present situation. The first is that most of these churches didn’t have many people when folks like me first came to them. In 1999 when I first came to 3ABC, there were about 50 in attendance and 1,100 on the rolls. The people who were here then have mostly died or are no longer able to attend. Seven years is a long time for those who are in their 80’s.
So then, are there no middle-aged people going to church in Louisville? Yes, there are, but most of the middle-aged people who grew up in churches like 3ABC stopped going to church, or they took their children to churches like Southeast Christian. How do you think Southeast grew to have 20,000 members? Most of the children and grandchildren of those who were coming to 3ABC when I first came either didn’t go to church or went somewhere like Highview, 9th and O or Southeast.I would love to have it other than it is, but in God’s providence this is the lot that has come to us and other churches like us. As the sands of time sink, we’ll take care of having some older members. My gray hair is coming in nicely. Thanks for asking.

I also get similar questions about our lack of "middle aged" members from folk who visit JPBC (though unlike 3ABC we do have a strong senior member contingent). We are, however, largely lacking "baby boomers" (people in the 45-65 age range). Our folk tend to be in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 70s. The children and grandchildren of our senior members also do not, in general, attend our church, even if they still live in the area.

See also his follow up post: What 3ABC Could Be Today?


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