The past twenty-five years has seen the greatest cultural upheaval ever in the American Church. From dress to music, from preaching style to worship aesthetics, from programming to technology, from modern to postmodern – it’s been absolutely crazy!
Many smaller churches have changed with the culture, without changing their theology or commitment to truth. These churches have continued to make an impact in their communities. They have developed new programs to reach new people. They have amputated ineffective, worn out programs and ministries. Their youth and children’s ministries are full and active. That have stayed contextualized to their communities and are relevant ministries spreading the Gospel to their neighborhoods.
Other smaller churches have resisted change. They are committed to the fundamentals of the faith: hymns, suits, ties, dresses, their favorite Bible version, Sunday evening services, pulpit furniture with high back thron… I mean chairs, conservative everything, organs, the same curriculum they used forty years ago, etc. etc. The youngest couple in their church has been married for 35 years. They have no youth or children’s ministries. They have become irrelevant to their communities and are no longer able to share the Gospel with their neighbors. They will soon be gone.
Yet other smaller churches are somewhere in between. They are afraid to let go of much of the old, even as they are trying to embrace the new. Their leadership is still all over 50, and they are hesitant to let the next generation onto the boards and committees. The jury is still out as to whether they will yet be relevant in their communities in five to ten years.
Where is your church at? Last week we had “Robert” on the podcast. He is a next generation leader. He thinks differently. I don’t always understand him. Sometimes I’m concerned by some of his positions. But he and all those his age are the future leaders of our churches, unless we keep them out. Unless we hold them at arm’s length. Unless we simply refuse to engage them in discussion and block them from positions of influence in our churches. Then Robert and all his friends will simply leave. And our churches will last for as long as all of us can live. Then they’ll close.
How are you doing in your church in terms of engaging the next generation? If you and I don’t, who will?
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