Embracing Change: Relevance for New Generations

During the 2024 Annual Conference of the Greater New Jersey, held at the Wildwood Convention Center from May 19 to 21, clergy, laity, and leaders gathered to discuss the future of the church. One of the central themes was how to remain relevant and appealing to younger generations. The statistics are clear: the average age of clergy within the UMC is 57 years old, and the laity follows a similar trend. As we look toward the future, it’s essential to recognize that younger generations have different expectations, preferences, and needs.

To sustain our ministry and ensure its vitality, we must intentionally address these generational shifts. This involves being open-minded and willing to adapt our practices, traditions, and communication methods. Encouraging dialogue among church members—especially across generational lines—is crucial.

At Trinity UMC, we are excited for the new appointment year and what opportunities it will bring to us. For example, our commitment to campus ministry at The College of New Jersey brings us hope. College campuses are hubs of intellectual curiosity, social activism, and spiritual exploration. Strengthening Trinity’s social media presence is essential, as young people are active online. Social platforms offer opportunities to share our church’s mission, events, and messages.

Addressing relevant social and ethical topics is equally important. Young people are passionate about issues such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ inclusion, mental health awareness, and climate change. Designing sermon and organizing educational forums around these topics will foster meaningful discussions within the congregation.

At Trinity, we should also explore diverse worship styles, creative arts, and intergenerational connections. By thinking and planning how to pair older members with young adults and organizing joint activities, our church can bridge generational gaps and create a vibrant, inclusive community.

Let us listen to the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and allow it to serve as a catalyst for change. By embracing innovation, fostering intergenerational connections, and addressing relevant issues, we can create a church that resonates with both seasoned members and the next generation. Let us dream, plan, and move forward with hope, purpose, and a commitment to love and serve all people, regardless of age or background. 


Rev. David Gaitan

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