All posts by sandy

Our Changing World

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

This week I’ve been reading Graeme Codrington’s latest book and include some quotes below.

Please put the following dates in your diary and come along:

June 22nd 7.30pm – Growing The Vision
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!


The presentation that Ben Mizen shared with us on Generations took much of the inspiration from the work of Graeme Codrington. This week I’ve been reading Graeme’s latest book entitled ‘Leading in a Changing World.’ So far I’m about half way through the book and it makes interesting, and challenging, reading.

Here are some quotes from what I have read so far:

Jack Welch is credited with saying that ‘when the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight.’

‘The thinking that created the problems we are facing will not generate the solutions we need.’ Albert Einstein

Graeme identifies three fundamental forces that he says are causing deep, structural change in the world today: Technology, Institutions and Societal Values.

Technology has transformed the way in which we do business. Never before has so much information been available to so many, so quickly. In the past, information was powerful in so far as it was guarded.
Today, exactly the opposite is true: information is valuable only as far as it is shared.

When it comes to the institutions in which we work it is apparent that the nature of the beast is changing. Central organizational models, supported by impressive hierarchical structures, chain of command and clearly defined functions are giving way to decentralised models … The values and mechanisms used to keep this status quo well-oiled and functioning are a thing of the past.

We need to consider shifting social values … Generation X and Y’s behaviour, driven by their underpinning values, stands in stark contrast to that of those with whom they share their workspace … A simple example of this difference is the contrasting way in how the different generations approach authority and respect. For Generation X respect has to be earned and has nothing to do with title or position. Of course this isn’t the case with older generations for whom title and position garners immediate respect … The new generations need change, flexibility, informality and information. They are individualistic and are asking different questions of their employees.

Deep structural, disruptive change is the norm in the world at the moment. We are living through more than an era of change – we have reached an inflection point in history, and are now living in an era where processes, systems, structures, products, services and careers no longer change — they transform. The bad news is that this era is not going to go away. We firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of change we’re going to experience in our lifetimes is still ahead of us.

Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation… Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived.’ Peter Drucker

If we’re living in a new world, then new approaches to leadership are required. But are we really living in such a new world? Isn’t this just a blip in history that will soon be over? Isn’t history always changing anyway? It’s easy to think that maybe all we need to do to survive this crazy world we live in right now is just grit our teeth a little bit longer and wait for sanity to return, and then our existing models will still be valid. Hopefully soon, we think, the current madness will subside and then we can get back to ‘business as usual’.

But this is not going to happen. The signs are everywhere and they’re all pointing in one direction: we are living through one of those moments in history when all the rules for success and failure get rewritten. We’re living through a period of structural change and realignment. Every so often, history stops its relentless forward march, takes an abrupt turn and heads off in a new direction. This is often linked to a new technological development, which changes how people live, interact and work. We name these moments in history to mark their importance: The Industrial Revolution, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Renaissance.

A dependance on what worked in the past, coupled with the assumption that ‘we have been here before’ – will prove fatal.

We unwittingly employ old practices in the face of new problems – with disastrous results. Invariably all that is accomplished is that we end up digging the hole we are in, faster!

If it is true that we are living in a world, society and community that is changing rapidly, and some would say out of all recognition – then what does this mean for the church? How, if at all, does the church need to change? What is there that we should stop doing? What new things should we start doing? Are we willing to experiment and take risks, knowing that many will result in failure? What are the essentials that must be retained and how can we do that at the same time as trying new things?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Graeme’s book you can download it here: Leading in a Changing World – Chapter 1

More information about Graeme and his organisation can be found here:

I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday evening as we explore these areas together.



Growing The Vision – Indicators Of Growing Churches

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

Below I highlight some recent research that the Church of England has done. Please do complete the survey you will find at the end of this post. The more responses we get the more helpful it will be!

Please put the following dates in your diary and come along:

June 22nd 7.30pm – Growing The Vision
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!

From Evidence To Action

Between 2011 and 2013 the Church of England conducted a research project on factors that influence church growth. The focus was to look at areas of ministry that were growing numerically and find our why. It may, or may not, surprise you that this is the first study of this sort that the Church of England has done!

In the introduction to the findings Archbishop Justin Welby says:

“As Christians we believe that the best decision anyone can make is to decide to follow Jesus Christ. It must then be of primary importance to us that so many people live their lives unaware of Jesus’ invitation to follow him. How we as a Church help people hear, experience and respond to the call of Jesus is the most urgent of our priorities.”

So what did the study reveal? It identifies eight areas, some of which growing churches were likely to have in common.

  • A church that has a clear mission and purpose and whose clergy and congregations are intentional about growth
  • A church that understands its context, actively engages with it and with those who might not currently go to church
  • A church that is willing to change and adapt
  • A church which is welcoming and builds on-going relationships with people
  • A church that has clergy and lay leaders who innovate, envision and motivate people
  • A church where lay people as well as ordained clergy are active in leadership and other roles
  • A church that actively engages children and young people
  • A church that nurtures disciples

We will look at some of these together when Charlie Peer leads our evening together later this month. In the meantime it would be really interesting and helpful to know from as many people as possible how you think we are doing against the descriptions above.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY YOU WILL FIND HERE it will help us greatly as we prepare for our evening on the 22nd of June.

You can read more about this research here: From Evidence To Action


Things I’ve read this week:




Why does the Church exist?

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

The first of these evenings was last Monday when Ben Mizen led a great workshop on Generations and Church. Today I’m starting to point our thoughts towards our next evening on Growing The Vision.

Please put the following dates in your diary and come along:

June 22nd 7.30pm – Growing The Vision
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!

William Temple

Archbishop William Temple said: “The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.” One question that is helpful to ask, and difficult to answer, is how do those outside the church view what we do and how/when we do it?

It’s a questions that the church has struggled with since the earliest times. The early church was accused of cannibalism due to the way they celebrated communion with the body and blood of Christ. The question of how others view what we do came home to me in a previous parish. In the normal order of Anglican communion the Peace is in the middle of the service. That Sunday we had a couple who were visiting as they were due to be married in the church in a few months time. When it came to the Peace they started to walk out of the door! Why? They assumed the service was over – quite a natural conclusion as everyone had got up, people were milling around and chatting to each other.

As we think about the life of our church we need sometimes to look at ourselves through the eyes of the outsider. Are there things we should stop doing altogether? Are there things we should continue to do, but in a different way? Are there new things we should start doing?

Perhaps our answers are different depending on our perspective as to the purpose of the church. Does the church exist primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet it’s members? Or perhaps, if we are really honest, do we think it exists primarily for those of us who are already part of the church?

Based on this let me ask a few questions:

  • On what day and at what time should the church community gather for worship?
  • Should communion be the main focus of our worship gatherings?
  • Does The Peace make any sense to those who are outside the church?
  • If someone is part of a small group but doesn’t come to our Sunday gatherings does that make them any less part of our church?
  • If our whole education system has moved away from lecture style teaching to participative learning what future is there for the sermon?
  • How often does someone need to come to our worship gatherings to be part of our church – weekly, twice a month, once a month, whenever they can?
  • Are we prepared to give financially to support parts of our church life that we may never see and never benefit from?


Things I’ve read this week:

Generations – Communion and Preaching

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

The first of these evenings is on the differences in generations. When you were born has a big influence on your values and priorities in life. This is the final post on generations and reflects on research date from Australia.

Please put the following dates in your diary and come along:

June 1st 7.30pm – Church and Different Generations
June 22nd 7.30pm – Growing The Vision
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!


Whilst I was preparing to write this last post on generations I came across a report from a church research group in Australia. The research was in 2008 which may be somewhat out of date now, however there was one part that sparked my interest.

Styles of worship have, in my experience, always been one of the most potentially contentions areas of church life for almost all the churches I have been involved with. Should we use the organ or a music group? Was the worship band too loud? Should we use hymns or short choruses? Should the words of the songs/hymns we use speak to God or about God? Should music convey doctrinal truth or should it be an expression of our relationship with God?

Until the past few years I have always thought about this as an area of simple personal preference, however I am now aware how generational our responses can be. This came out in part of the research I referred to above. When asked which aspects of church that were valued most this was the response:

Generations and Church Table

The first two were no surprise to me now. Older generations prefer a more traditional worship style with hymns and organ. Younger generations prefer a more contemporary style – although this isn’t necessarily the loud band led worship that Baby Boomers may prefer!

It was the responses to the importance of Communion and Preaching that surprised me.

I have often thought that in a mission shaped church in today’s society we should be less focussed on communion services. However it is very difficult to make this change when the majority of congregations are aged 50+ and prefer communion as the main focus of their Sunday worship.

It may surprise you to know that this focus on communion as the main Sunday service is actually relatively recent! Up to the 1960s the main service for Anglican churches was Mattins, or Morning Prayer. It was only after the Parish Communion Movement took hold in the 1960s that the change took place and Mattins was replaced by Holy Communion as the main focus for Sunday worship. T Book of Common Prayer states that it is only “binding on everybody to communicate three times a year”, it was not the norm prior to this movement for the average church member to receive holy communion every week.

What surprised me even more from these statistics was the preference for preaching that is expressed by the younger generations. I know this data is seven years old, but much has been made of the changes in education that have moved away from didactic, lecture style, teaching to more interactive and participative learning. For the past few summers, and on other occasions, we have taken this on board with a more interactive conversation rather than up-front teaching.

There is much here to help and inform how we do church as we go forward. I hope many of you will come along on Monday evening for the workshop that Ben Mizen will kindly lead for us.


Things I’ve read this week:



Implications of Multiple Generations @ Church

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

The first of these evenings is on the differences in generations. When you were born has a big influence on your values and priorities in life. This is the final post on generations and is quoted directly from Graeme Codrington who did the presentation to the Portsmouth Diocesan Conference back in 2012.

Please put the following dates in your diary and come along:

June 1st 7.30pm – Church and Different Generations
June 22nd 7.30pm – Growing The Vision
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!

Generations 4

If the generational theory is correct, it will be helpful in thinking about all aspects of church. Of course, it is a generalisation, and should not be applied without thinking and careful analysis of your local situation. Nor does it replace prayer and godly insight. But, it can nevertheless be helpful in showing us some starting points in our journey of ensuring that church remains relevant to all generations.

What follows is neither a comprehensive list, nor is it meant to be step by step instructions. But the following areas of church life and ministry are in desperate need of regeneration.

The issue of worship is one of the most divisive in most churches. The older generations want well known hymns, solemnly sung to organ accompaniment. The younger generations want medleys of repetitive, new choruses led by electric guitars, keyboards and drums. The younger generations prefer a more intimate worship style, with songs that speak to God. The Boomers enjoy lively, loud worship that celebrates God. The older generations prefer to sing formally, about God. Multi-generational churches need to work hard to have something for everyone. The focus needs to be on quality and sensitivity, ensuring a mix of styles, with a blend of old and new. There also needs to be teaching on tolerance and diversity.

In Mark 4:33-34, we read an interesting statement about how Jesus preached to the crowds who came to listen to him. Yet, the older generations still prefer the preacher to preach in a traditional style, using three point sermons based on systematic theology and hours of research in the Bible. Younger generations would prefer more practical sermons, peppered with stories. Both of these approaches are Biblical, and each has strengths and weaknesses. Again, the best solution probably involves finding a balance between the different styles (and many other styles in between as well). This can best be done by developing more preachers from with the congregation ‘ both young and old ‘ who can bring different styles to the pulpit. This would also fulfil the requirement of 2 Timothy 2:2 to allow more people into the pulpit and develop their gifts.

It is only relatively recently in history that anyone was asked, ‘Are you born again?’ or was instructed to ‘walk down the aisle’ and ‘say the sinner’s prayer’. The Silent generation believe that you can convince someone to become a Christian by logically and rationally taking them through a process of thinking. This is exemplified in the approach of Evangelism Explosion, and, to a lesser extent, Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws. Boomers have codified approaches like this and created systems out of them, taking them around the world, with slick training courses and manuals. Similarly, Billy Graham type ‘crusades’ dominated the Boomer’s early memories of evangelism, and the rock n roll style, stadium events are still favourites for them.

Today’s younger generations much prefer a more relational approach, that treats other people’s beliefs and other faiths with respect and love. That doesn’t mean ‘selling out’, it just means a different starting point, and a different approach. Today’s evangelism techniques need to focus more on helping people to experience a community of believers, and to connect with the ‘kingdom of God’ in tangible ways that go beyond explanations and arguments. The world needs to see more Christ-followers, not hear more rhetoric.

Sunday School
Sunday Schools were initially founded in the Victorian era to help children get out of the virtual slavery of child labour in Dickensian factories. They were given basic literacy skills to help them improve their lives. Today, most children view Sunday School as anything but freeing. Even the name is off putting!

We need to urgently look at the curriculum, the teaching techniques (and the training and support we give the teachers), and the goals of Sunday School. I am personally very disturbed that my two daughters tend to lurch from stories about Easter to stories about Christmas, with very little else except a few parables in between in a year. And if I see one more felt-board, I think I might cry.

Something for Everyone
The church has some tough decisions to make. There is a massive generation gap in the church and the world, and many of the strategies and ministries the older generations would prefer to maintain are no longer effective for younger generations. But we cannot simply abandon the older generations. The church must ensure that all generations are both ministered to and have opportunities to minister. This is a difficult task, but not impossible.

A pastor friend once told me that he did not just want to be an echo of his own generation, building a church that only catered for the needs of one particular group of God’s people. Like him, I believe its possible to build multi-generational churches, where each generation learns from all the others, as we reflect the diversity and unity of being the children of God.

Quoted from Graeme Codrington, read the full article here


For those who are interested I thought I’d also start posting links to other things that I’ve been reading so here are some from the past week:



Generations and Church Life Part 2

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

The first of these evenings is on the differences in generations. When you were born has a big influence on your values and priorities in life. This is the third in my series of post on this and again I’m resurrecting something that I posted during my sabbatical back in 2012.



A baby changes everything – don’t they? When our children were born our lives certainly changed! But do babies and children (both physical and spiritual) change everything in the family of the church?

In his thesis Graeme Codrington very helpfully uses this as a challenging illustration of the relationships between the generations within church life.

Saying that young people must “learn to worship” with the adults is hypocritical to say the least. Why do adults not “learn to worship” with the youth. Why do adults believe that they have the right to be comfortable in the style of “doing church”, and that others must adjust? This is certainly not how a family works. Those newly pregnant parents who swear that “this baby won’t change the way we live” are rightly sniggered at by those of us who know what having a baby means. The child changes the way you live. It changes the way you talk. It changes the way you view life, and innumerable adjustments are made in the home to accommodate the new life. Parent’s preferences are deprioritised in order to make these adjustments. This is not to say that the baby becomes the boss. There must be give and take, and the child must learn to live in interdependence within the family. But saying this is very different from saying that the parents will make no concessions for the child at all. It is this latter attitude that is most prevalent, unfortunately often especially in “family” churches. (Quoted from Graeme Codrington’s Thesis see below).

How do our preferences differ? The following are drawn from Graeme’s thesis and looks just at the theme of worship:

The Silent Generation (now aged over about 70) “prefer worship to be structured, analytical, clear thinking and precise, with a clear emphasis on absolute and timeless Truth … it is right and good that everyone worships in the same way, and that all worship is the same … (they) also tend to be clock watchers.”

Boomers (aged approx 51-70) “are much less structured … value highly freedom, a sense of creativity, experimentation and innovation. They enjoy frequent changes in style and approach … Efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism are important elements in worship … They prefer a “personality” leadership style, where the leader imposes his/her personality fairly clearly onto the worship event.”

Generation X (aged approx 35-50 today) “enjoy the less structured and innovative … yet desire more intimacy and relationship to be expressed. Being able to express one’s hurt, find healing and develop relationships are important aspects of worship. They are experiential, and prefer the worship leader to be a fellow pilgrim in the journey of worship, rather than a leader.”

The Millenial Generation (aged approx 15-34 today) “values flexibility and change, and is comfortable with very different expressions of worship … Professionalism is not an important factor, as long as people are able to connect with God in a meaningful way … a connection to the “real lives” is absolutely essential. They look for stimulation in the worship experience, valuing multiple sources of input, such as having two projectors, one for words of songs being sung, the other for appropriate images.”

We all have preferences and values that relate to how we pray, learn, worship and express community that are expressed differently within our generations. It is easy to label the preferences of others as maybe old fashioned or a modern gimmick, both of these are to misunderstand where others are coming from. Generational theory says there are genuine and deep reasons for these differences and we need to learn to respect and honour each other in our differences.

There seem to me to be two ways that these differences need to be expressed. The first is to respect and reflect the differences within the same gathering, service or event. This can’t be a ‘sop’ to the different expressions but an genuine respect for each other in such a way that we enter into what others prefer and value and so find that our own experience of God and Christian community is deepened.

The second way is to understand that these generational differences may mean that there are times when the generations meet separately. This already happens with Sunday School and Youth Groups (although I wonder sometimes whether this separation is more for the benefit of the adults than the youngsters!). But I wonder if we need to look at this more closely. For instance should we look at providing small groups that relate to the values, preferences and stage of life for the Silent generation (those aged over approx 70 today) separately from the Boomers & Generation X because they not only have different generational values but are generally at a different life stage?

If you want to read Graeme Codrington’s work (and I think it is great stuff and easily readable) you can find it in his book Mind The Gap or by reading his thesis which you can find online here:



Generations and Church Life Part 1

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

The first of these evenings is on the differences in generations. When you were born has a big influence on your values and priorities in life. This is the second in my series of post on this and I’m resurrecting something that I posted during my sabbatical back in 2012.


One of the goals on my sabbatical is to improve my physical fitness and last week, whilst at the gym, I heard a gentleman singing to himself, he was aged about 75-80 (I know guessing is dangerous), and the song he was singing was ‘The Sound of Silence.’ This was very appropriate as I have been reading some material in the last couple of weeks about the differences between generations and he was a member of what has been called the Silent generation.

I heard of a conversation recently between a member of that same generation and another member in their church. The member of the Silent generation was talking about all the changes in church life over recent years,”The church hasn’t changed for 2,000 years why does it need to change now, why can everything just stay the same, as it’s meant to be!”

Not too long ago I had a conversation with someone I know very well about songs that we sing in our Sunday gatherings. They were expressing how difficult it is to sing some modern worship songs and how the music doesn’t follow the rules they were taught at school for good music writing. Emphasis is on the off beat or between the beats and that makes them difficult for public, corporate singing.

At the time of each of these I had no idea how generationally effected each of these situations was. My reaction to the more elderly person who complains about change and wants everything in the church to stay the same as they grew up with can easily be to see them as stubborn and awkward, standing in the way of progress! What is happening behind the scenes is that the person probably grew up in a time of great turmoil and difficulty and the church was the one place of stability and safety and, for them, became a sanctuary and this is the root of their generational preference for keeping things as they are.

My natural reaction to music that is more modern and written to different rules and is therefore difficult to sing in public settings (especially when you haven’t got the strong and imposing lead of a worship band) is to say its not working, it wont work, it’s bad musically and therefore we won’t use it. What is happening here behind the scenes is that a generation has indeed rewritten the rule book for writing good music, their music is written on the off beat or between the beats and it isn’t intended for public, corporate singing in the same way that hymns or choruses are. It is a style of music where participation is not expressed by singing all the words with heart and gusto, participation is by joining in, supporting and enjoying the performance of the song.

It is also important for older church members to understand that the radical societal changes of the last twenty years have not left cultural expressions untouched. In particular, music has changed radically. For example, “youth today, for the most part, are not listening to music that they can sing. Most youth music is simply heard but that does not make it nonparticipatory music. The music still demands nonverbal participation” (Schowalter 1995:21). (Quoted from Graeme Codrington’s Thesis see below).

The work I have read is by Graeme Codrington. His presentation on generational theory was for me one of the highlights of the Portsmouth Diocesan Conference in September last year. Since then I have heard him gve the same presentation again and I have read his book, Mind The Gap, and also his MA thesis on multi-generational ministry in the church. His presentations, both in person and in writing are thought provoking and challenging and potentially effect almost every area of the lives of our church communities. The way we prefer to pray, learn, worship, lead and understand or experience the Gospel can all have significant generational overtones.

I write this having just led a Myers Briggs workshop for people in Winchester Diocese (I know I’m on sabbatical but the fee for the workshop will help pay for a small part of my sabbatical!). I am aware therefore that there are many different aspects to who we are. Our family setting, upbringing, experiences, gifts and abilities as well as our personalities have made us who we are today. What I had not realised to any real extent before was how much the era in which we were born has also moulded who we are today. We are all created as unique by God, and yet there are similarities between us. There are 16 MBTI types and I was reminded last weekend just how similar individuals with the same MBTI type can be. Just as those with the same type are unique but also have deep areas of similarity, so those born in a generation are unique but also have deep areas of similarity. All is well and good with one type or generation until they meet another type or generation, and potentially mis-hear and misunderstand the other. It is so easy to think that our type or generation has the ‘right’ values, worldview, understanding likes and dislikes. When one type or generation is the dominant one it can be difficult and uncomfortable for the other types and generations and within the church the option is always there to walk out of the back door never to return (and many sadly have done so!).

I’ll pick up this theme in my next post but in the meantime if you want to read Graeme Codrington’s work you can find it in his book Mind The Gap or by reading his thesis which you can find online here:



Introducing The Generations

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

The first of these evenings is on the differences in generations. When you were born has a big influence on your values and priorities in life. Over the next three weeks I will be starting to explore this in a series of blog posts. The first of these today will introduce the different generations.


The Silent Generation Born 1925 – 1945

The Queen, Michael Caine


The Silent Generation was the generation born between the two World Wars, they were too young to join the service when World War II started, many had fathers who served in World War I.

Living through rationing and austerity, they believe in hard work with a waste-not, want-not mentality.

They are averse to debt, and with a strong belief in sticking to the rules and the importance of law and order.

Pre-feminism women; women stayed home generally to raise children, if they worked it was only certain jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.

Men pledged loyalty to the corporation, once you got a job, you generally kept it for life.

Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.

After the war they enjoyed near full employment plus rapidly improving schools for their children and free health care through the NHS.

They are avid readers, especially newspapers.

The Big-Band/Swing music generation.

Strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths.

Disciplined, self-sacrificing and cautious

They were the first gener­ation to contemplate early retirement and saw the class system begin to break down.

Baby Boomers Born 1946 – 1964

Tony Blair, Richard Branson


The Baby Boomers were the generation born just after World War II, a time that included a 14-year increase in birthrate worldwide commonly referred to as the baby boom. Baby Boomers in their teen and college years were characteristically part of the 1960s counterculture, but later became more conservative. And their kids were the first generation to reject the values of their parents in an explosion of new music, art and lifestyles. “Rock and roll” music generation.

Baby Boomers enjoyed free student grants, low house prices and they now hold the reins of power and have the most economic clout.

In 2004 Baby Boomers held 80% of the UK’s wealth, much of it comes from property they own.

In the 1970s, they had to borrow only three times their salary to buy a home. Today’s generation need seven times.

Buy it now and use credit.

Too busy for much neighborly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all.

Even though their mothers were generally housewives, responsible for all child rearing, women of this generation began working outside the home in record numbers, thereby changing the entire nation as this was the first generation to have their own children raised in a two-income household where mom was not omnipresent.

The first TV generation.

The first divorce generation, where divorce was beginning to be accepted as a tolerable reality.

Optimistic, driven, team-oriented.

Tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchal structure and tradition.

Their aging will change the country almost incomprehensibly; they are the first generation to use the word “retirement” to mean being able to enjoy life after the children have left home. Instead of sitting in a rocking chair, they go skydiving, exercise and take up hobbies, which increases their longevity.

Generation X Born 1965 – 1980

Ant and Dec, Ed Miliband


The first wave left school in the early 1980s in an era of mass unemployment with the Cold War threatening nuclear annihilation.

They are more tolerant of different religions, races and sexual orientations and more adaptable – one member of Britpop band Blur became a Labour councillor and one is a cheese-making farmer.

Entrepreneurial. Very individualistic.

Government and big business mean little to them.

Want to save the neighborhood, not the world.

Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years and are therefore eager to make marriage work and ‘be there’ for their children.

Desire a chance to learn, explore and make a contribution.

Tend to commit to self rather than an organisation or specific career. This generation averages 7 career changes in their lifetime, it was not normal to work for a company for life, unlike previous generations.

Late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents.

Want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt.

Cautious, skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.

Boomerang Generation is one of several terms applied to the current generation of young adults in Western culture, so named for the frequency with which they choose to live with their parents after a brief period of living alone.

Generation Y Born 1981 – 2000

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Adele


Also known as the Millenials and generation ‘Why?’, this generation has never known economic good times and with little hope of buying a home, many rely on mum and dad.

Jobs are low-paid and last for an average 15 months compared to more than 10 years for Baby Boomers.

The majority, 60%, believe they will be worse off than their parents’ generation.

But they have also resolved to achieve a better work-life balance after seeing those parents work day and night at stressful jobs to maintain a successful llfestyle.

Generation Y has been shaped by the technology revolution that saw computers, tablets and the web become central to work and life, giving them a skills edge over their elders.

They are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused.

Respect authority.

They schedule everything.

They feel enormous academic pressure.

Prefer digital literacy as they grew up in a digital environment. Have never known a world without computers! They get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet.

Prefer to work in teams.

With unlimited access to information tend to be assertive with strong views.

Envision the world as a 24/7 place; want fast and immediate processing.

They have been told over and over again that they are special, and they expect the world to treat them that way.

They do not live to work, they prefer a more relaxed work environment with a lot of hand holding and accolades.

Generation Z Born after 2001

Malala Yousafzai, Nick D’Aloisio


The oldest Gen Z child was six at the time of the 9/11 terror attacks.

They are growing up amid “chaos, uncertainty, volatility and complexity”.

But they are also hailed as “the first tribe of true digital natives” or “screenagers”.

There are two billion Gen Z-ers worldwide and they are socially-aware self-starters, more driven but less self-involved than their elders. 72% want to start their own firms.

They say they prefer saving to spending and they drink and smoke cannabis less than earlier generations.

They have fewer fights at school and less risky sex. In fact they have learned all the lessons their elders took a lifetime to understand.

They have never known a world without computers and mobile/smart phones.

Have Eco-fatigue: they are actually tired of hearing about the environment and the many ways we have to save it.

With the advent of computers and web based learning, children leave behind toys at younger and younger age. Many companies have suffered because of it, most recognizable is Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls. In the 1990’s the average age of a child in their target market was 10 years old, and in 2000 it dropped to 3 years old. As children reach the age of four and five, old enough to play on the computer, they become less interested in toys and begin to desire electronics such as smart phones, tablets and video games.

They are savvy consumers and they know what they want and how to get it and they are over saturated with brands.



Reasons For Attending Sunday Services Less Often


I recently read the online article below and it made me stop and think. All church leaders are aware of the trend that even the most committed members are often not at their service every Sunday. We all speculate about the reasons and I found this article helpful. I was especially challenged by number 6: The Cultural Disappearance of Guilt. This coupled with a recent statement from our Diocesan Missions Adviser about the cultural disappearance of ‘Duty’ is challenging.

If you are one of those who isn’t at St Paul’s (or another church) each Sunday then why? Do the reasons below ring true? If so which ones? Are there other reasons not mentioned below?

I would be REALLY REALLY interested in your thoughts. Be honest, if we are to help lead the church in the coming years we need to better understand the cultural shifts that are happening all around us.

You can leave your comments on the church website, or on the comments for this post on Facebook. We really do want hear!


10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often

It comes up in a surprising number of conversations these days. And no one’s quite sure how to respond to it.

The issue? Even committed church attenders are attending church less often.

Sure, the trend has been happening for years (gone are the days when people attended 50 out of 52 Sundays), but the issue is reaching a tipping point in the church today.

This isn’t a post about why people have left the church (that’s a different subject.) This is about church attenders who love God, appreciate the local church and are even involved in the local church, but who simply attend less often.

This trend isn’t going away…in fact it’s accelerating,

It impacts almost every church regardless of size, denomination or even location.

It probably marks a seismic shift in how the church will do ministry in the future.

Of course, church attendance is never the goal. But attendance is a sign of something deeper that every church leader is going to have to wrestle with over the next few years.

The first key to addressing what’s happening is to understand what’s happening.

So…why are even committed attenders attending less often? There are at least 10 reasons.

1. Greater affluence

Money gives people options.

If your church is at all engaging the middle class, the upper middle class, or a suburban demographic, an interesting trend is developing. The middle class is shrinking, but as this New York Times report shows, it’s shrinking (in part) because more of the middle class is becoming upper class. Both US and Canadian personal disposable incomes are at all time highs.

There are simply more affluent people than there were decades ago, which may in part explain why so many “average’ people indulge their obsessions with granite counter tops, designer homes and decent cars, even without being mega-wealthy.

Naturally, this leaves a huge theological void about ministry to and with the poor, but it helps explain what’s actually happening in the suburbs and increasingly with the re-urbanization of many cities as the affluent move back downtown. Please…I’m not arguing things should be this way. I’m simply showing that this seems to be what’s happening.

And again…people with money have options. Technology options. Travel options. Options for their kids. And, arguably, that affluence may be one of the factors moving them further away from a committed engagement to the mission of the local church. It’s perhaps fuelling some of the reasons outlined below.

2. Higher focus on kids’ activities

A growing number of kids are playing sports. And a growing number of kids are playing on teams that require travel.

Many of those sports happen on weekends. And affluent parents are choosing sports over church.

It’s as simple as that.

3. More travel

Despite a wobbly economy, travel is on the rise, both for business and pleasure.

More and more families of various ages travel for leisure, even if it’s just out of town to go camping or to a friend’s place for the weekend or a weekend at the lake.

And when people are out of town, they tend to not be in church.

4. Blended and single parent families

Fortunately, more and more blended families and single parent families are finding a home in church.

So how does this translate into attendance patterns?

Church leaders need to remember that when custody is shared in a family situation, ‘perfect’ attendance for a kid or teen might be 26 Sundays a year.

Similarly, while the affluent might not be in church because of access to reliable transportation, single parents (who, not always, but often, struggle more financially) might not be in church because they lack access to reliable transportation.

So here’s the strange twist. People who have a car are often not in church because they have a car. People who want to be in church are often not in church because they don’t have a car or because it’s not their ‘weekend’ for church.

Sadly, people who want to get to church simply can’t.

By the way, I lead a church that virtually requires a vehicle to get there. I love how we often see people with reliable transportation helping out those who don’t have a vehicle. That’s at least a partial remedy to this problem.

5. Online Options

Many churches have created a social media presence and many podcast their messages like we do at Connexus. Churches are also launching online campuses that bring the entire service to you on your phone, tablet or TV.

There are pros and cons to online church and there’s no doubt that churches with a strong online presence have seen it impact physical attendance.

But whether or not your church has online options doesn’t make the issue go away. Anyone who attends your church has free access to any online ministry of any church.

Online church is here to stay, whether you participate or not.

6. The cultural disappearance of guilt

When I grew up, I felt guilty about not being in church on a Sunday.

The number of people who feel guilty about not being in church on Sunday shrinks daily.

I regularly meet people all the time who haven’t been in months but LOVE our church.

If you’re relying on guilt as a motivator, you need a new strategy. (Well, honestly, you’ve always needed a new strategy…)

7. Self-directed spirituality

People are looking less to churches and leaders to help them grow spiritually, and more to other options.

We live in a era in which no parent makes a visit to a doctor’s office without having first googled the symptoms of a child’s illness and a recommended course of treatment. Just ask any family physician. It drives them nuts. (Google, doctors will tell you, is not a complete replacement for medical school.)

Similarly, when was the last time you bought a car without completely researching it online?

In an age where we have access to everything, more and more people are self-directing their spirituality…for better or for worse.

Similarly, another characteristics of the post-modern mind is a declining trust of and reliance on institutions.

The church in many people’s minds is seen as an institution.

I don’t actually believe that’s what a church is. I think it’s a movement…not an institution. But many churches behave like an institution, and the post-modern mind instinctively moves away from it as a result.

8. Failure to see a direct benefit

People always make time for the things they value most. If they’re not making time for church, that tells you something.

Even among people who say their love the church and who say they love your church, if declining attendance is an issue, chances are it’s because they don’t see a direct benefit. They don’t see the value in being there week after week.

That could be because there isn’t much value (gut check). Or it could be because there is value that they simply don’t see.

Either way, failure to see a direct benefit always results in declining engagement.

So what are you doing or not doing that leaves people feeling like there’s not that much value?

9. Valuing attendance over engagement

When someone merely attends church, the likelihood of showing up regularly or even engaging their faith decreases over time.

At our church, I find our most engaged people—people who serve, give, invite and who are in a community group—are our most frequent attenders.

More and more as a leader, I value engagement over attendance.

Ironically, if you value attendance over engagement, you will see declining attendance.

10. A massive culture shift

All of these trends witness to something deeper. Our culture is shifting. Seismically.

Church leaders who fail to recognize this will not be able to change rapidly enough to respond to the shifts that are happening.

Change is unkind to the unprepared, so prepare.

This article is from Carey Nieuwhof and can be read here: 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often



Christmas Letter from Prison

Pastor Saeed Abedini

Each year we write a Christmas Letter which we send out with some of our Christmas cards to friends we haven’t seen in the past year, you may well do the same. With that in mind I read the letter below which comes from a Christian Pastor in Iran. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been in prison in Iran since the summer of 2012. His story is long and heartbreaking, all attempts to secure his release have thus far been fruitless. In the midst of deplorable prison conditions, he has written this Christmas message to his family, it is both heartbreaking and challenging:

Rajai Shahr Prison 2014

Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ