5 reasons why young people are seeking old ways of doing church

This migration began in earnest back in the 1990’s and is not coming into its own. I look at my own experience and understand that those of us, back then, were on the forefront of this migration among X-er’s, and now even more so among Millennial’s.

These are the general 5 reasons:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Rootedness
  3. Mystery
  4. Icons & Symbolism
  5. Participation

From the article:

“The departure of young people from “new” churches to “old” ones can be deeply confusing to many who grew up with strict denominational boundaries. However, it has the potential to lead to healthy, restorative spaces for many of God’s people. After all, we are all one church. As Brian Zhand expresses it; ‘we need the whole body of Christ to properly form the body of Christ. This much I’m sure of: Orthodox mystery, Catholic beauty, Anglican liturgy, Protestant audacity, Evangelical energy, Charismatic reality — I need it all!’

Read the post, here

http://www.churchinacircle.com/2015/03/31/why-young-people-are-seeking-old-ways-of-doing-church/

The Church

“The Church, in common with the whole redemptive process, does not exist as the fruit of human endeavour, which has shown time and again by the bloody collapse of ‘civilized’ rationality to be incapable of attaining anything that is lastingly healing. Thus the Church cannot be reformed by human effort and ingenuity, any more than sin can be reformed by good will. We must hear the gospel of the incarnation as a summons to self-abandonment before all else, not as a reassuring endorsement of the best we can humanity do.”

– Rowan Williams in his book, “Anglican Identities”, p. 89-90, writing on on Michael Ramsey’s theology of the Church.

This is the problem we have today – those who still rely on Modernist notions for their base foundation of what can be known for sure are still trying to reform the Church by human endeavor and some kind of human ingenuity – and it isn’t working. There is too often a reliance on late 20th-Century American socio-political ideology (of the Left or Right) rather than what the enduring Tradition reveals to be the ways-and-means of the Kingdom of God. For example, demanding “rights” is not at all the same as living into “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

With respect to the “reform” of our Church (in this case, the Episcopal Church), what is needed is self-abandonment to the gospel-of-the-incarnation (understood in a Postmodern way), which is completely tied to the deep and flowing stream of the enduring Tradition (for us in its Anglican form) taken up  by us from generations past, experienced anew in our own day, and if we are faithful we will strive to understand how to pass it on to the next generations.

What will we do in this Anglican form of the Tradition of ours when we think about issues of a numerically and financially declining Church – a Church that has nearly lost what once was significant influence for the good within society – within a culture that no longer thinks and acts within a Christian worldview?

Change… Faith/Religion

What is the perceived or real difference(s) between a “person of Faith” and a “religionist”?

How might the difference(s) play out in everyday life and the practice of Faith (in my case, the Christian Faith).

I’m wondering in our changing cultural dynamic whether a “person of Faith” is becoming one who internalizes and lives as fully as possible into the Faith (in our case, the teachings and example of Jesus – fully love God with everything and neighbor as yourself), while a “religionist” may be one who holds the “Faith” at arms length – an academician or one who just engages in cultic ritual practices.

Next!

What is the purpose of the Church?

The Church of the 1970’s is over (social-gospel, mainline Protestantism); the Church of the 1990’s is over (Evangelical Seeker); the Church of the 2000’s is ending (GenX Emergent).

The late 20-Century Church model is over, even as the formal structures try in desperation to maintain it.

The culture is no longer with us. What are we to become in this day and this context?  That which has endured will continue to endure!

Motivation

One of the benefits of the Christian Church in the world, or
a benefit that we should provide but in these days often don’t, is that we call
society and culture to higher standards of discourse, politics, education,
ethics, and culture, and call individuals to their better selves.  God desires us to live life to the full – in
sane, healthy, altruistic, and responsible ways that are beneficial to not only
ourselves, but to all of society.

 

In times past, if people wanted to be educated they went to
the Church. If you wanted to be cultured, you came to the Church.  If someone wanted to help “the least of
these,” s/he went to the Church. 
Not so much, anymore.  And, of
course, there are plenty of examples throughout history where the leadership of
the Church exploited, tortured, killed, maimed, impoverished, etc., people and
societies.  Yet, the negative exploits of
those who used (and continue to use) religion for their own gain does not
diminish what the Church is supposed to be and do and what we as Christians are
called to be and do.

 

In these days, we tend to align ourselves with the
prevailing culture that too often wants to dumb things down – because that is
what people in the general culture have come to expect. The banal, the lowest
common denominator, the most profane or perverse, the most demeaning, the most
dictatorial, the most arrogant, the most selfish, and so forth, has become the
norm.  We make little effort to truly teach
and to call people to move beyond and above the crass, sterile, and
manipulative norm that invades all of life. 
The perception many younger people have of the Church is that it is just
yet another cooped institution or group of people that wallow in the cultural
morass and that offers no real escape and alternative way forward.

 

As a Christian, I take upon myself to be educated, to seek
understanding and wisdom, to be forgiving, to be giving of myself, to be
respectful, to love beauty, peace, and freedom. I also understand that in order
to do all of this in God’s economy of things, my first and primary motivation
and goal is to love God with all of myself – my intentions, my devotions, my
perceptions, and my thoughts. It is tough to do in our culture, but we in the
Church must stop giving into or aiding the dumping down of everything.

Communion Without Baptism

Considering what is going on in the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church right now with regard to resolutions related to changing the Church’s reaching to official acceptance of the unbaptized being given Holy Communion, I want to make more accessible the piece I recently wrote on the topic.

The piece that I wrote focuses to how emerging generations (younger folks) may or may not engage this issue (topic, point of contention, disagreement, fight, or whatever-else-it-might-be-called).  Primarily, what I say is that if we make this change for reasons related to “welcome” or “inclusion” or the removal of supposed “obstacles” to new people coming to our churches, that such reasons for such a fundamental change may play well with liberal-minded, Baby-Boomer sentiments, but it will be irrelevant for younger people.  Younger people deal with such issues from very different perspectives.

So that anyone who may want to read the essay/commentary without wading through irrelevent stuff, I have made a “Page” for my 2-cents worth of commentary.  Of course, you could just scroll down.

Here is the link:
http://www.hypersync.net/mt/communion-without-baptism-emer.html

The Next Step…

As we continue along the societal path leading us further into the “Post-Constantinian-Era” of the Church and society in the West – and I’m thinking primarily of those in the U.S., in more urban areas, and substantially those under 30-years of age – the way we go about doing church, the way we go about influencing society for the good and the beautiful, the way we go about the doing of Jesus’ two Great Commands, and particularly the way we go about evangelism/witness – by necessity will and must adapt and change.  This isn’t change for the sake of change, change to attempt to be all hipster-like, change to be on the presumed cutting-edge, or change to accomplish personal or group agendas, but rather change that should naturally come from careful observation, study, participation, and discernment with regard to the dynamic morphing of generational, cultural, perceptual, and/or ambition-al sensibilities and understandings we have of ourselves, our cohorts, and our world. After all, while we are called not to be of the world, we are certainly not called to be other than or out of the world!

So, what does this all mean?  Since we have entered into the cultural milieu where a Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity, our world, and our place in it is no longer the foundation upon which our society revolves with regard to so many things – ethics, morals, sense of purpose, how we relate to other people(s), concepts of freedom and integrity, material things, and our inner-selves – let along God – we must understand and re-engage the central purposes of the Church – the institutions that embody the Mystical Body of Christ in the world.  What are the purposes of the Church to be re-engaged?

I posit this: to begin, that which has endured through the centuries of testing – there is gravity here.  What purposes have been tested and shown to endure? The primary purpose of the Church is to worship God and be present with God in His desire for the good of the created order.  Secondly, the Church is to be the primary conduit through which people come into a salvific relationship with God through Jesus Christ, period.  Thirdly, the Church is to be the place where people are formed and re-formed into the Life-in-Christ by way of the transformative working of the Holy Spirit in our individual and collective lives. This happens as we give ourselves individually to the
practice of the enduring Christians Spiritual Disciplines and as we collectively provide place for the learning of, the habitation of, and the practice of such disciplines. The Church provides for the practice of these disciplines. Once these three enduring proposes of the Church are engaged heartily, even if imperfectly (which is inevitable), then we become the image of God and go about being a witness for Christ’s desire among the people we engage every day.  The way we are a witness – doing evangelism – changes, naturally.  The way we care for the poor and needy will change, organically.  The way we campaign against injustice changes, fundamentally.

The authentic Christian response to the profound needs of the outcasts and marginalized and the way to come against injustice can only happen after we come to love God with all of our being – then we are able to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The central purposes of the Church are not social work and political activism – sorry.  Those things are born authentically for the Christian out of worship, formation, and self-denial. Frankly, the world does not need the Church to care for the needy or to champion justice.  There are plenty of NGO’s and non-profits (religious or secular) that are very good at this. The world does need the Church to know God and to be transformed for living “life to the full.”

Worship/Prayer, Formation/Discipleship, Selflessness/Self-Denial,
Witness/Evangelism are the watchwords, and IMHO the more helpful progression
for action.

I am convinced that once we re-engage the core practices of the Faith, we will realize again the Church’s positive influence for the shaping of the world by God’s design, which is good, beautiful, and peaceful. Although, for the time being as we rebuild trust and authentic alternatives to the prevailing world systems to which we have become beholden, growth will be small and under the radar (because we need to regain our sense of purpose, value, and worth not born out of the seeking of societal approval and affirmation).  For those of us who are after such things, we will need to stay under the radar to a degree because such challenges to the status-quo always gather together those who oppose and resist.  So be it. We work with and along-side all
who wish God’s purposes to be realized, but the next step in the reshaping and reforming of the Church will take place with or without us – I want to be part of the reshaping!

I think here, in this messiness, is where I want to find situated the Imago Dei Initiative!

Discovery

It seems, and I experience, that within the Christian Faith, which is by nature relational (contra to the religion that developed around it), the more questions that are answered or settled the more we realize what we don’t know and what is yet to be understood and discovered! It is invigorating and confounding at the same time. It is infinite.

This, I think, is a similarity to the exercise of science.  Together, these both are the seeking of truth and knowledge, even though on different plains of experience, explanation, and understanding.

Wither the Church

I contend that a primary reason for the withering of the Church within the public mind is resultant of the Church – liberal and conservative – capitulating to the zeitgeist. When we simply mirror the prevailing culture or system whether political, economic, philosophical, whatever, we lose our significance, our voice, our purpose, our justifiable reason to be noticed.

The Witness of the Church

For Christianity to offer a true alternative in society, it does NOT mean that we mimic back to the culture itself, though dressed up in churchy garb or verbiage, in order to try to make people feel good about themselves or out of the Church’s collective insecurity regarding the culture.