Northern Ireland and the ‘Lost Generation’

In a recent survey carried out in Ireland only 21% of Northern Ireland  respondents aged 16-24 knew that there are four Gospels. Against that 54% of the over 65s knew that there were four gospels. Whilst such surveys are not always representative this one bears out other statistics that I have seen regarding the 16-24 age group. They are often referred to as ‘the lost generation’ as far as the church is concerned. Sadly ‘lost’ is not just a statistical category. Rather problematically many Evangelicals in NI still think in terms of being a Christian country or a country where people know the gospel. The reality is that many NI people do not know the gospel and treat Evangelicals with a degree of scepticism.

This generation presents  an enormous challenge to churches in NI. In the past we have lived off a culture where many people were taught some Christian basics in school but times have well as truly changed. Unfortunately as churches we are often unsure how to deal with this generation. Many churches fail to attract such people and even if they did they would not know what to say to them. Those who do attract these people often offer little more than a version of Christianity-lite that does nothing more than reflect the culture.

There are therefore huge challenges ahead of us as churches if we are to reach this generation with the life transforming message of Jesus in a way that speaks into the contemporary culture. NI churches need to adjust from a church going culture to being those who are on the cutting edge of a great missionary enterprise.

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