• Church hopping, church shopping may be wave of future

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If you want to see the future, look at the kids. The New York Times ran a piece today about teens and churches, that may be indicative of the future of congregations that accommodate young people—and those that don’t.

A reporter followed a couple teenagers around to their churches in Colorado Springs, Colo., documenting how an increasing number of teens now opt to switch churches in order to meet their spiritual or worship needs, or to simply meet up with their friends.

In a survey of 13- to 17-year-olds conducted from 2002 through 2003, the National Study of Youth and Religion found that 16 percent of respondents participated in more than one religious congregation, the Times reported. Four percent attend youth groups outside their congregations.

Considering what other trouble they could have with their teens, parents, obviously, aren’t too opposed to their teen going to another church, even more than one each week. But some church leaders see a danger in the shallow sort of commitment this sort of church hopping may produce on the part of young believers who act more like consumers than congregants.

There is a fine line between serving the unchurched or adapting to a culture, and creating a consumer-driven church, however. Certainly traditions should give way to relevance if churches are intent on attracting each successive generation. But, in creating worship environments that appeal to contemporary culture—which is largely based on consumption in America, churches may also inadvertently be creating more young consumers of spirituality, rather than discipling believers and growing church members as servants of Christ.

Churches as consumers

The tables are turned when churches find themselves in the market for goods and services. From churches in the midst of a building project, to those remodeling, expanding or refurbishing, congregations have material needs as well.

Information may be the best tool for wise stewardship in this case. Church Central is helping church leaders who may be in the market for church furnishings or supplies. In addition to the www.ChurchCentralSupplies.com Web site that connects churches to suppliers of everything from audio/visual equipment and computer software, to signs, Church Central published free special reports this week to educate would-be church consumers on furnishings. Specifically three free reports are available on the Web site as a free pdf download: baptisteries, seats, and pulpit furniture. You’ll find the reports here.

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