Religion has made significant strides recently toward reaching younger audiences.Faithbook launched as the first interfaith page on the popular site Facebook in an effort to foster greater understanding among people of different religions. While there are other faith groups on Facebook, Faithbook is the only page that welcomes people of all faiths to join.The Movement for Reform Judaism, responsible for Faithbook, hopes the page will “engage the younger generation,” inform them about people of other faiths, and engage them in constructive debates. Members can upload photos of themselves and others, view images of sacred texts, and view prayers for international and interfaith understanding. Faithbook already has 498 fans.Also, the Bible found a new home-on Amazon Kindle, a wireless digital reader. The Contemporary English Version of the Bible (CEV) is available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99 and can be instantly accessed through the Amazon device without the use of a computer. A high resolution screen displays the text and the CEV Bible is searchable. The simplicity of the Kindle device is a plus for those looking to get specific books of the Bible or the entire Bible itself. This makes the Bible into a highly portable library.The director of licensing and product services at the American Bible Society said the digital platform will allow readers to share scriptural texts with all of those interested in the Bible—especially new readers and younger readers. Other current innovations include putting the Bible on cell phones and the prospect of special ring tones on cell phones.Why all the recent technological and social networking advances? Because religious organizations and faith leaders nationwide are observing declines in membership, largely due to the lack of participation of younger generations.Consider this:
Regardless of religious affiliation, young adults attending churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations will strongly influence the direction of religious life in the United States over the next 25 years. It remains to be seen whether religious organizations can successfully engage Xers and Ys in their communities.
Generations X (1965-1981) and Y (1982-1995) have challenged religious organizations to become more intentional and strategic in the ways they serve their members because they are the first generations to want new ways to worship.
Religious organizations everywhere are struggling to understand this generational shift. As a result, they are observing a decline in membership among younger generations.
I recently wrote an article about this decline for Church Executive magazine, which will be published in next month's issue. Here are a few of the tips I outlined for religious leaders to consider in the article:
While the Traditional and Baby Boomer generations have sustained religious organizations for quite some time, many organizations have made the mistake of ignoring the Xers and Ys or waiting for them to conform to the traditions and the values of previous generations. Xers and Ys are actively seeking a place to belong, and they will abandon the idea of going to church or synagogue altogether when religious organizations don't meet their interests and needs.
There’s a tremendous opportunity here for the religious organizations that can find meaningful ways to integrate their involvement into young people's lives, and literally focus on the next generation of faith leaders and members.It’s important to understand that younger generations haven’t lost their faith. Research repeatedly indicates this is not the case. Xers and Ys are faithful and spiritual generations–they are simply seeking new ways to worship than the generations that came before them.The question is: Will your organization be the answer to their prayers?
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