Tag Archives: youth

The future of Church?

Ok, so I know the church of the future won’t just look like one particular church, but I visited St. Paul’s Onslow Square in London last week (a congregation of Holy Trinity Brompton) and had a number of thoughts:

A very simply format, with worship led by a very competent band which was situated in the centre of the church. The band stood in a circle facing inwards (presumably to take everyones attention off them and to divert it onto God). I did miss having something to focus on – usually in church your eyes are diverted to a cross or a window or eve a candle, which can be both helpful and unhelpful. Here there was nothing easy to focus on from where I was sitting.

Many young people were engaging with God throughout the worship. One young man who I saw was singing with absolutely all of his might. This was great, especially as engaging with God is what church is supposed to be about. The congregation was very young, possible with an average age of about 24 (made me feel old). I think the other congregations of HTB have a greater age range.

After quite a good half hour (maybe more – i didn’t notice as I was enjoying it) the band left their places and there was a sermon. The sermon wasn’t great but i know that was out of character for HTB as I’ve heard a number of other sermons given by podcast. It concetrated on giving – giving of your whole self to God which works itself out in giving of time and skills and resources to help build the kingdom and aid the mission of the church.

Surrounding the small stage in the centre were no pews and not even any chairs. Everyone was sat on cushions on the floor (with the exception of a few sofas round the edge). Very informal, very relaxed, a party atmosphere with coffee and cakes available.

After the sermon there was another chance to worship and also for people to be prayed with or simply wait upon God. This type of prayer minsitry seems to bee integral to the service and not just an add-on.

It was vision sunday. Inside the church they had set up stalls each giving information about a different area of the ministry of the church. People afterwards could go up and find out about this area of ministry, what is involved, whether it fits their gifts, and how to get stuck in. They do this twice a year which helps people easile get integrate with the church and serving in it.

The whole thing had the feeling of a (good) youth service in it’s simplicity and accessibility. Anyone could easily come and know what was going on. There are many excellent youth programmes around but many of them see a great drop out rate after the youth programme ends, as the young Christians try to integrate with a traditional church service. This service reduces the culture gap between youth work and adult services so it is easier for young adults to continue with their faith.

So, a few minor gripes about this or that, but very enjoyable nonetheless!



Mark Sayers has written a thoughtful post on twenty and thirty somethings who don’t want to grow up. The thinking is that we are less willing become adults and take responsibility these days than we were 50 years ago.

  • We don’t want to be adults because we are afraid of commitment and responsibility. By admitting that we are adults, it means that we will have to do some stuff that needs doing.
  • We don’t want to be adults because we are secretly afraid of dying. We have been affected by our culture’s materialist worldview. We are afraid of being adults, because it mean that we have to admit that we are no longer young, that we are aging, and that the countdown to our death is ticking. Our culture has no answer to this problem, many of us as believers have forgotten that we do posses the answer to this problem.
  • We prefer youth to adulthood because the young are pampered, they have things done for them, they have others looking out for them. By being young you expect others to meet your needs.
  • We prefer youth to adulthood because the young have not learnt to delay gratification.
  • We prefer youth to adulthood because the young tend to be more self-focused than adults.

I’ve come across some thinking like this before (can’t think where), where the young adults are called kidults – the get paid like and adult but seem to drift along without too much responsibility (I speak as a 30-something). I wonder what the root cause is? Perhaps due to a generation that has not had to think about global war? A generation that has grown up with everything one could need and more? A generation that cannot afford to be responsible (in the case of housing – they can’t afford them)? Perhaps, in also being a generation that has (generally) rejected God, of had God rejected for them by their parents, they do not know who they are suppose to be and are busy building an identity out of other things.

In her book Visualising Hope, Dr Sarah Dunlop found that the key values of the young people she spoke to (students) were self-expression, freedom, and fun. Perhaps if you play out these values without any balances you get a generation who are always seeking new things and never ready to take responsibility.