Sunday, May 10, 2020

The joke. . . is not so funny

We spend our days plotting and our nights fretting about our seeming inability to bring back the Millenials and beyond whom we have lost and to bring in for the first time those in these generations who have not darkened the door of the Church.  We treat it as if it were a pirate's treasure and the Scriptures were but a scrap of the map designed to get us to the mother lode.  Read it and weep.  Blog after blog, junk mail after junk mail, and pricey program after pricey program promises us the rest of the story, the hidden way, and the easy path to success.

In reality they are all pretty much the same.  Both of them insist that this tired old church (our tired old church) cannot be attractive to a people whose technology, interest, music, and social media are cutting edge.  The screen is merely the medium but the medium is the message to this generation -- or so we are told.  As one church growth consultant put it:  “You can’t reach the next generation of young adults without being a church for young adults. In other words, everything you do must be designed with the next generation in mind.”  But how on earth do you do that?  And why on earth would you try something designed to fail from the get go?

Perhaps it is the Achilles' heel of the Boomers to presume that what was true for them would be true for all (that the world revolves around me, my taste, and my preferences).  But surely there is enough blame to go around!  Yet it is exactly this that is at the heart of it all.  If the Church is to offer more recent generations anything, it cannot and will not be a souped up version of what they already have.  They have brand names to turn to for such as these.  It is what they do not have that the Church has to offer.  That is the past.  Anchored in history, in the mighty acts of God to deliver His people, and in the people who have from year to year gathered around His life-giving Word and grace-filled Sacraments, the Church has something to offer that they do not have and yet what is, as one author put it, a sacramental yearning.  The Church has failed not because it was up to speed but because it was too up to speed.

It would be a joke except it is not funny.  It is a Church that has lost sight of its purpose, of its mission, and of its very identity.  It is a people who have lost confidence in the Lord, in the means of grace, and in the very promise that is the foundation of faith.  Perhaps we would be wise to listen to those who desire to reach their generation with the truth.

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