Many people have heard of the urban legend that is dog years. The theory states that one year of human life and time is the equivalent of 7 years in the life of a dog. Fleshed out this means that they age much faster and their bodies have a greater toll taken on them so they have 1/7 of the life expectancy.
My theory is that Christians who grow up in the church also “age” faster. I believe that over time those who grow up in the church age through tradition and religion making them think older than their age. This can result in a loss of relevance and awareness of culture.
Let me explain. The conversion is not as drastic as dogs to humans, I think it is closer to 1 year=1.3 years.
This means that someone who is in high school (16 years old) but has grown up in the church is unable to logically think how to best reach someone their age, because they are actually closer to 21 years old. Someone who is 25 and is often looked toward as a young leader might not be as young as you think when you realize that growing up in the church has them thinking more like a 33 year old. A 40 year old becomes a 52 year old and so on.
So how does this affect the church practically in day-to-day life? I assume that those looking to be in the world and not of and communicate biblical truth through cultural means plan how to embrace culture and reach the un-churched around them. Most of us have 30-40 year olds planning our services. If my theory is right that means that our services are hitting 50-60 year olds. This is not bad, but I bet if you would ask those planning that is not their desired audience or the one they think they are hitting.
When the church is reaching an aging audience and missing the younger demographic that will grow and sustain the church’s life it is not helping itself. The church as a whole already struggles with relevance and needs to be intentional about planning to reach younger un-churched people. The problem is that we might be even older and “churched” than we realize and it is catching up with us.
Next time you are planning to do something relevant to reach those around you, plan the coolest thing you can think of and than try to beat it by 5-10 years because if you grew up in the church you are probably thinking older and more traditional than you realize.