From ‘repentant sinners’ to ‘helping Jesus fix the world’

1001 movement interviews reveal shift in approach to evangelism

October 23, 2015

LOUISVILLE

New Worshiping Community leaders say people in the millennial generation—those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s—respond differently to evangelism than previous generations. It’s an important finding, as, in many cases, millennials comprise the majority of a new worshiping community’s participants.

It’s just one of the more interesting reflections found in a recently completed 1001 NWC Conference Interviews report by Research Services of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Based on interviews conducted at the National New Worshiping Communities conference earlier this year, the report delves into a theory presented by some leaders that “millennials do not feel the guilt and shame the same way older generations do,” in part, “because they were raised without corporal punishment, and with more positive, rather than negative reinforcement.”

The report finds that telling millennials “they are sinners and need to repent” doesn’t work. But they do respond to evangelism that tells them, ”the world is broke, and it is only through Jesus that it can be fixed,” and then asks the question, “Do you want to help Jesus fix the world?”

This evangelism shift in new worshiping communities is evident in some of the other major findings of the report:

  1. Leaders have strong denomination ties, but generally do not emphasize the need for their participants to have strong ties.
  2. This approach is geared to being inviting to those with no church experience (unchurched) or those who have been hurt by church (dechurched) to dispel stereotypes about “church people.”
  3. For many worshiping communities, evangelism and worship are the same—there is not always a clear distinction between the two.
  4. Leaders share same goal to create a new church for our changing world.

The report adds that interest in the 1001 movement comes out of a desire to, and a belief that, new worshiping communities can help the church adapt as it works to address societal shifts in norms and values, and changes in our cultural landscape.

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This most recent report is part of a 10-year longitudinal study on the impact of the 1001 New Worshiping Community movement in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Download complete findings of the current, and previous reports, by clicking on the links below:

1001NWC Winter/Spring 2014 Survey
1001NWC Leaders Survey Spring 2015
1001 NWC Conference Interviews report