Critical Thinking At A Bachelor Degree Level

How Do We Express The Gospel In A Time When Our Culture Seems So Morally Confused?

In Thoughts on February 10, 2014 at 2

In March, I will be attending the Messenger Fellowship Summit, which has leaders from all over the world gathering to provide answers to specific questions about the present-day church.  My previous two blog posts tackled the questions, “Where is the Church Headed?“,  “Why Are So Many Leaving the Church?” and “Why is Doing Church So Hard?” I will continue to give voice to other areas that branch from these important questions.

This is an interesting question that books could be written about because you really have to split it up into three parts in order to come to a semblance of a conclusion.  Defining what the Gospel is; what culture is (and what stream of culture); and what morals are being corrupted, is important.

The Gospel
Candidly, the Gospel is represented as sharing the good word of Jesus and what He did to reconcile God to sinners.  It was proclaimed openly amidst persecution throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa and even into Asia.  The promise of new life in Christ was more cherished than a mortal life on earth.  Something that we have little grasp of today in our Western world.

However, the question asks how do we express the Gospel?  This is an intriguing question considering only ten years ago college students would have naturally been sharing the four spiritual laws to other peers.  Even today, Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) is trying to find new ways to adapt an old way of evangelizing to a new culture, overloaded in the information age.

I don’t really have an answer here so I will move on.

Culture
As I stated before, we are in a historical moment between two very different generational groups: the Boomers and the Millennials.  Two very different groups, with different trends, approaches, semantics, etc.  To not value the differences is to miss the whole point altogether.

My expressed relief and concern that the questions I have been blogging about are being asked by Boomers shows a legitimate concern and naïveté on how to engage a cultural group (Millennials) that are closing their ears to them by the minute.  Because the real base of the question isn’t about how to express the Gospel to a full culture, it is the culture that is represented by MTV, the Grammys and the internet age.  They are losing Millennials and they know it.

Morals
I believe this is the greatest division between Boomers and Millennials.  While Boomers could rightly accuse Millennials of being soft on things like sex before marriage, stances on GLBT rights and abortion; Millennials could rightly accuse Boomers of not having empathy toward social justice issues, GLBT rights and overall hypocrisy.  There is clear validity in both, which confirms that all still fall short of the glory of God.

You see, when one cultural group is defining moral corruption for another cultural group, it leads to a dead end.  It can come off as condescending and simply leaves everyone walking away from the table.

So how do we express the Gospel in a time when our culture seems so morally corrupt?

After I broke that question apart, the one thing that I am missing is the answer!  The reality is, I need to hear more opinions on this before I really can form one.  I want to hear from Millennials and Boomers because for another 30-40 years, we will all be coexisting together, not to mention the generation that will come after us.  However, if we can learn from some of the points I laid out above, we could build a bridge earlier to those coming after us.  That alone should give us some hope.

 

Why Is Doing Church So Hard?

In Thoughts on February 3, 2014 at 2

In March, I will be attending the Messenger Fellowship Summit, which has leaders from all over the world gathering to provide answers to specific questions about the present-day church.  My previous two blog posts tackled the questions, “Where is the Church Headed?” and “Why Are So Many Leaving the Church?”  I will continue going through the other questions this summit hopes to give voice to.  

Why is doing church so hard?  It is an ironic question.  Ironic because we never think of Christianity as something to DO but instead as something to BE.  That is truly where the weight of the question falls, is church something you are doing or being?

Throughout the years churches have become more and more organized, less about freedom in Christ and more about submission to dogma, elders, pastors, teaching, etc.  It could amaze that Christianity has survived this long.  Churches in America are structured like businesses.  There is a CEO, the Pastor; a CFO, the Associate Pastor; a Board of Trustees; an Advisory Council; an Administrative Assistant; a Janitor; and a consortium of volunteers that are executing said vision of the CEO.  If said vision isn’t executed…well you are treated as an at-will employee and with the love of the Lord, out the door you go.

The problem is when doing church becomes no different than doing a job, it is not surprising to wonder why people aren’t willing to do it anymore.  We shouldn’t be slaves to an organized unit that is supposed to represent the figurehead that set us free: Jesus.

That’s why doing church is so hard because it does not reflect what the church was in the Bible.

I feel like pastors are presently living under a lot of pressure.  I saw it today in the pastor’s face at the church I visited.  He said that church attendance has been down across the board because people have lost hope in the church.  I wondered if he too had lost hope.  Churches are driven by a variety of measurements: attendance numbers, prophetic words, cash brought in, outreaches, etc and in the end they never truly help in defining the question of “how can we BE the church?”

I felt sad for that pastor today.  Maybe I will have the chance to ask if that spark is still there but I certainly will pray for the Holy Spirit to reignite it in the meantime.

Why Are So Many Leaving the Church?

In Thoughts on January 27, 2014 at 1

In March, I will be attending the Messenger Fellowship Summit, which has leaders from all over the world gathering to provide answers to specific questions about the present-day church.  My last blog post tackled the first question, “Where is the Church Headed?” and I will continue going through the other questions this summit hopes to give voice to.  

Why are so many people leaving the [organized] church?  I feel you need to put the placeholder of organized in this question because there are many who still consider themselves to be Christians but have simply refrained from getting up on a Sunday to sit for an hour in an organized church building.  Creating a distinction between the two is important primarily because of the connotation of judgment that exists upon Christians who do not go to a church building on Sunday’s vs those that do.

It would be unfair of me to speak on behalf of the Baby Boomer generation, since they have specific reasons for why they have chosen not to attend.  But from a personal point-of-view, I can express reasons from my own experience and stories I have heard from other Millennials.

It All Starts With Community

Millennials crave community.  I think we are driven by nature to desire a community, a place to fit in.  Prior to the age of the internet, churches remained a stalwart location where people from all types of backgrounds, likes and dislikes, congregated for the sole purpose of religion.  Communities as a whole were known in a five mile radius whereas you can now Skype with someone across the world if you desired.  By expanding the limits of community, we no longer share a dependency to coexist with people simply because of location, that in itself has removed a large reason for why people do not prioritize church attendance anymore.

Secondly, Millennials want to give their time toward an internal goal while cheering on others who strive for the same goals.  A great example of how this is manifesting in Millennials is Crossfit.  Crossfit boxes are opening all over the country.  They have literally become the fraternity/sorority of post-college life for 20-30 somethings.  Expensive memberships with basic workouts equaling great results with a loyal base has created a movement across America.  It is more than working out.  Crossfit creates a community base where accountable friendships form to hold people to the goal of a great body.

Promotable goals  are important for Millennials.  Where a church has structured itself vertically in leadership, typically leading to the all-powerful pastor, Millennials will simply scoff and walk away.  Why give time to a singular position that they will never be promoted to?  Crossfit represents a horizontal leadership where everyone is equal and cheering for one another.  In fact, it represents the Biblical concept of Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Millennials are tired of supporting and worshiping the singular ministry.  They want to partner together to bring change to the world.  Celebrity pastors are great for that one moment, that one speech but beyond selling a few more books, having a little bit more glory, they aren’t adding to the potential Millennials know the church can have in the world.  Millennials have felt fooled for spending so much time in a pew when they could have been doing what they see in the Bible.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the church.  In fact, it surprises me that we are still asking the question instead of admitting that we are missing the mark and developing solutions.

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