Red Brook Baptist church sits right outside of Atlanta, and resembles many churches across the American landscape. The church hit its peak back in the 1970’s, according to its Chairmen of the Deacons. In 1970 they were running well above 3,000 in worship and in student ministry attendance running 400 or more. They were also in the top 10 in their denomination in student baptisms.
Fast-forward 30 years and you will see a church that time has long passed by. Red Brook still has the large sanctuary and building but they have dwindled down to fewer than 300 members. The church’s neighborhood, once seen as a safe haven for suburban Caucasians, now is among many different cultures and nationalities. Just last year, Red Brook assembled a team of its members to decide whether the church should stay open or dissolve as a local assembly.
Red Brook is like many churches in our country. According to Tom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian resources ,“the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships.” Many churches across the country will be dealing with the hard reality that the culture they once ministered to is changing and becoming more urban.
Here are some hard facts about the culture that is awaiting the American church. The 2009 US Census states that there are almost 310 million people living in America today. 222 million of these live in an urban setting. Over half of our population is living in the city. Here are a few more hard realities that the report revealed.
• One of seven Americans is living in poverty—the highest rate in 15 years.
• Nearly 4 million Americans fell below the federal poverty line in 2009 compared to 2008.
• Nearly three in 10 girls get pregnant by age 20.
• More than three-quarters of teen boys (78%) agree that there is “way too much pressure” from society to have sex (according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy).
Many churches like Red Brook escaped to the suburbs in the early 80’s and 90’s to avoid dealing with urban issues. Now, the urban city has become the urban suburbs.
This is not the first time Christians have had to meet the hard realities of culture. Noah was the first Biblical figure who had to meet the hard realities of a fallen culture. In no way is today’s culture anywhere close to that of what Noah was facing but he did three things that should be an example to us.
First, Noah recognized that God knew the culture better than he did. Genesis 6:5 states “Now the Lord observed the extent of the people’s wickedness.”
Second, he listened to what God asked him to do.
Thirdly he acted on what God asked him to do. Even today we can learn from the wisdom of Noah by recognizing that God isn’t asking us to build a boat and wait for a flood. Instead, he may be asking us to build a ministry that can meet the demands of the cultural flood that is right outside of our doors. Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) exists for the sole purpose of: “Training leaders, who train leaders, who transform youth.” We seek to walk alongside youth workers who work with Urban Youth in any capacity. Maina Mwaura brings you this article. He is from the great state of Georgia. He serves as the student pastor at Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. Maina is one of thousands of youth leaders who partner daily with UYWI.
written by Leneita Fix