Chris Campbell saw the trend. For the interim minister of students at Central Baptist Church, the aging face of the congregation was unavoidable.
Fewer young people filled the pews of the Southwest Decatur church during traditional Sunday morning worship, the mainstay service of churches.
How to reach the twenty-something population and build a community of young worshipers challenges churches across the nation. According to a Pew Research Center poll released in October, one-third of adults younger than 30 claim no religious affiliation.
To reach the "nones," as researchers dubbed them, the church would need to create a unique service.
"We wanted to have a service that is real, relevant, relational and relaxed," senior pastor Rob Jackson said. "The whole idea is to reach a new generation that's looking, yearning, for something different. Our mission at Central Baptist is to continue to reach more people for Christ. This is a perfect way to do that."
In the 6 p.m. contemporary worship service aimed at Millennials, Jackson delivers the same message as the morning service but in a different manner.
"We stress that the Crossroads service has a relaxed atmosphere but that it is not relaxed theologically. You are still getting the meat and potatoes, so to speak," Campbell said.
Instead of the sanctuary, the service takes place in the third floor worship center. Instead of a choir, a band provides the music.
Instead of traditional Sunday school, Campbell and Jackson organized life groups. Instead of a suit, Jackson dons khakis to fit in better with the jeans-and-sneakers-clad congregation, who sip on coffee and hot chocolate.
Two months into the worship service, Crossroads' target audience is expanding, meeting an unanticipated need in the community.
"Yes, we wanted to reach the young adults, but we also noticed we were reaching a second group, the group that has to work Sunday mornings and as a consequence have to miss service," Campbell said.
The service is attracting young adults, families and, most importantly, individuals outside Central Baptist's existing congregation.
Campbell, who hopes to begin seminary this year, takes every opportunity to spread word of Crossroads.
"One Sunday morning before service, I was at Starbucks, saw the people working and invited them to Crossroads," he said. "This is a great opportunity to reach out to those who are at a crossroads in their life."
Catherine Godbey can be reached at 256-340-2441 or email@example.com.
Not registered? Click here
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|