There's a sad reality occurring out there: the Church appears to be losing ground to the world's influence, marketplace trends, technology advancements and social networking infrastructure. Innovative solutions are needed.
GIFT believes we can address this situation by helping the Church explore new strategies and solutions -- including Cafe & G.I.F.T. Shoppes and more -- to reach our communities in relevant ways.
GIFT is also developing an innovative strategy to help raise funds to support both the Church and global compassionate ministry during this period of financial decline -- "The GIFT Card That Makes Change."
This strategy includes leading the Church in exploiting the mobile wallet and its ability to encourage stewardship, collect donations, earn a share of revenue from everyday transactions and even remit funds to global causes. This innovation will be particularly effective in supporting the youth with "An Invitation to Help Change the World."
GIFT is committed to helping the Church find and build upon effective solutions.
Consider these alarming church statistics:
- Only 29% of people born between 1977 and 1994 attend church
- Just 34% of those born between 1965 and 1976 attend church
- 70% - 80% of young people abandon church after leaving home
- Less than 6% of churches grow at or above the rate of growth in their community
- The Christian researcher Barna also tells us that a growing number of Christians are seeking to build their faith through non-church outlets such as small groups, Christian music, technology and family. Today, only 70% of professing Christians nurture their faith via a traditional church. This percentage is projected to decrease to only 30% pursuing their faith via a traditional church by 2025.
- Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed in 2005, "The so-called traditional churches look like they are dying," and he attributed this to increasingly secular societies seeing less need for God.
Conversely, coffee shops and hamburger joints seem to be winning the battle for our minds and affection.
- Business analysts have even branded some of these places "Third Places" representing Home, Work and your favorite Coffee Shop.
- Open extended hours, many are even integrating technology into their offerings -- such as music downloads, large plasma screens and content.
On top of this is the realization that our youth are advancing in their reliance on mobile and social networking technologies.
- Pew organization findings indicate "48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more often; 26% visit once a day, 22% visit several times a day."
- According to Pew "64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engage in at least one type of content creation."
- According to Pew survey findings, "content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content. Nearly half (47%) of online teens have posted photos where others can see them, and 89% of those teens who post photos say that people comment on the images at lease "some of the time."
- Pew also determined, "about 28% of the entire teen population are super-communicators... teens who have a host of technology options for dealing with family and friends, including traditional landline phones, cell phones, texting, social network sites, instant messaging, and email."
- Finally, over 90% of college students and 70% of high school seniors and juniors now own cell phones and many consider mobile phones to be an extension of their personalities and critical aspect to their social networking.
GIFT asks: where's the Church in this new social networking, mobile community and venue prioritization?
At GIFT, we want to help enable the Church to reach our communities -- and our youth -- amid this movement to new venues, social networks and technology.
We also recognize the social networking and viral communications capability of our youth can present new witnessing and testimony-sharing opportunities for advancing the Church. And we want to see the Church access these incredible lay assets.
We want to help the Church build on and expand upon the successes of programs like "Theology-On-Tap" and "Cyber-forums" by exploring the latest technology and creating exciting "Christian Experience" venues.
At GIFT, we want to help the Church reach into local communities with new approaches to helping others. Like potentially providing nutrition support and cooking classes to help avert people getting sick and to help those with health problems address physical and spiritual concerns.
And, we want to harness these outreach strategies and tools to help bring people back into full communion with the Church and fellowship with the Church body where they can be nourished with the love of Christ.
At GIFT, we want to work with the Church to help it reassert a position of relevance and vitality in this new culture of social networks.