Read this article.
Notice in particular this statement: ““Unless something drastic is done now, the Church will lose a whole generation of leadership” to the infotainment industry, he warned.”
This is happening. People are not finding solutions in most local churches today.
What is the Church doing right and what is the Church doing wrong? Obviously it is not due to the lack of youth programs. We have ski trips, coffee houses, and mission trips to Mexico galore. Neither do I think that it is due to the lack of integration of the MTV generations entertainment genera. The church has had the coffee houses, rock bands, and reality shows for some time now. What is it that will bring this generation in. I am not so much thinking about the numbers alone, but the depth of thought.
I think there are a few things that I think are important:
1. Authenticity: This generation is highly suspicious. They don’t just take you at your word. They think older people (or at least people of the pre-post-modern generation are naive, believing everything because they have to. In order to present ourselves as authentic, we must be authentic (this is not rocket-science!). To be authentic, we must do away with the veneer faith that shows no depth, and allow people to see that we don’t have all the answers. We need to separate the things that are clear from the things that are unclear and the essentials from the non-essentials.
2. Innovation: No, I don’t mean tit for tat with the culture, but to recognize the redeeming elements of the culture and engage with the change. Culture itself is amoral, being neither good nor bad. The Church must not ever have a fear of culture and isolate ourselves from innovation simply because the outside world is using such things for bad. The innovation is God’s innovation. We must reclaim it.
3. Conviction: In the movie Bridge to Tarabithia (which I do NOT recommend–boring), one of the two main characters, a young teenage girl who was presented as the “enlightened” one, goes to church with the boy of traditional upbringing. She said, “I liked the Jesus story. Is it true?” To which the boy responded, “Yes, it is true. It is in the Bible. If you don’t believe the Bible, then I guess you are going to hell.” To which she responded, “You believe it because you have to. I just think it was beautiful.” The problem is that the traditional Christian kid did not really have any conviction of his own. He was 13 years old and only had hand-me-down truth. This type of truth does not last long once people are out from under their parents wings. We must have a way to teach critical theology early to think through issues and, when they are able, to make their own decisions. Of course, this is what we are trying to do with The Theology Program.
I am not saying that this is all there is to it, but I do think that these things are very important. I don’t think the Church has to lose a generation, but I think that in order to gain an audience with this generation we must become this generation, incarnating ourselves and our message. This will take the sacrifice of many sacred cows of practice, communication, and thinking. I for one am all for this. How about you?