I recently received an email from a church planter wannabe asking if I’d seen the latest statistics about what is relevant to young 20-somethings today. Apparently, along with the stats, was a book that told what these numbers meant to church structure and ministry for the 21st Century. Being open to the possibility that my general take on statistics concerning relevant ministry might be wrong, I checked into it. As a business major in college…and not a religion major…I always first check out the method for gathering data for any statistical analysis. In looking over the “collection process” for the statistics in this book I discovered that they were gathered from 25 to 29 year olds from 2002 to 2004. The book apparently took all of 2005 to write, edit and prepare for distribution and was finally released in 2006. After reading this, I knew my initial feelings were correct…statistics don’t mean crap when it comes to what is relevant!!!
Here is a book that untold thousands were buying in order to become “relevant” to young 20-somethings in hopes of growing a numerically large church. They should have flushed their money down the toilet…at least they’d get a thrill of seeing it go ‘round and ‘round before it disappeared down the drain. This book…and many like it…are just a colossal waste of time for church planters and/or churches that want to effectively reach the 25 years old and below crowd. The stats…and conclusions…are based on data collected almost three years ago. Much has change as far as relevance in that time. Forget the antiquated numbers on the “report”, just the time it took to write the book saw thousands of changes.
Last year MySpace was the rage. Today only 7th graders and Fortune 500 companies use it…the young 20-somethings have moved on to Facebook or Skype. Last year everyone wanted a Razr cell phone. This year it is cell phones with more Vcasting and text messaging capabilities. Last year Copeland and mewithoutyou were the hot bands for younger 20-somethings. Today it’s the Flaming Lips and The Mines. Oh yeah…The Police are back en vogue again with their latest tour. The point is, with all of the technology, internet and unlimited radio or television channels, what is relevant today is not relevant tomorrow…if you are trying to chase culture (more on the dangers of that in another post).
Statistics are great for letting church leaders know how many disconnected people live in an area or what kind of car people prefer. They suck when it comes to tracking culture, trends and relevance. By the time the data is gathered, analyzed and formulated into a conclusion…not to mention the time it takes to write and release the findings…the information is no longer relevant. Don’t buy it, don’t read it and don’t use it for a basis to structure…or restructure…a church.
So if statistics, polls and books about relevance are irrelevant, then where do you go to discover what is truly relevant? Just look around you! I’ll explain more in Part 2.
– written and posted by Chris Elrod.