Let’s imagine these realities. During the 1980’s there was a large body of research conducted about adult learning. The consensus was that roughly 85% of what adults learned then was not in a formal setting, classroom, or lecture hall. And that was 10-15 years before the internet!
We don’t have to think and look around a great deal to realize that there has been a significant paradigm shift with adult learning today driven by the internet and since 2007 by the Wiki world (peer to peer sharing). If 85% was the informal percentage in the 1980’s, just think what it would be today. What will it be tomorrow? What does that mean for all engaged in leading adult formation today? What kinds of things are going on in our church buildings? Do all people come to the church for their need to grow in faith?
A second scenario: a couple I know recently moved to Omaha. After doing some church shopping, they ended up going to Boystown where the liturgy was packed. In wondering why this was so, they conjectured that perhaps for some people – at this point in their lives - they just needed worship. Their lives might be overflowing (e.g. two-three jobs to survive, elderly parents for whom they were caring) and there wasn’t time to join committees or participate in a six-week adult learning series. They just needed good worship.
Are there people in our congregations who can’t or won’t come to the church for scheduled adult programs? If the answer is yes (it is, isn’t it?), who they are and what their reasons are for what we label as “non-participation,” fall in many, many categories.
Because they fall in various categories, there isn’t just one way of responding to them, meeting their needs, being where they are.
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