Regenerating the Church
To paraphrase a folk song, where have all the young ones gne? Demographics cast a shadow over generations X and Y. Like their parents, seven of ten will quit church after high school, and half may return by the age of thirty. But their numbers are fewer in the sanctuary.
In their efforts to attract and retain the young, evangelicals have stressed style over substance. Gatherings are scripted events catering to high tech sensibilities and short attention spans—lots of edgy glitz and fanfare. Just like electioneering for public office, churches campaign for consumers of their marketed message, trying to impress with trendy relevance.
How much should believers blend with current culture? Should congregations mimic contemporary cool? The gospel is already a tough sell, so why not widen the appeal and soften the negatives?
The church template in Acts favored no geography, gender, wealth, or age. No one was segregated into coddled enclaves. Teaching could be contoured for capabilities and schedules, but worship was for everyone all together at once. Members were unified under a ministry governed by gifts and calling.
Children or youth quarantined within an ecclesiastic apartheid will become aliens to the gamut of church life—mentoring from a senior, serving the needy, sharing the full circle of fellowship. When their participation becomes an adult choice, other venues can just as easily fulfill these stylized habits.
Just like the first generation of believers, churches proclaim that Jesus saves and we belong to Him. Methods vary, but the message is constant.
We must be wary of reducing the gospel to bromides or platitudes. Biblical truth is not a mush of moralism that offers a better way to gain the good life.
We must not equate salvation with subjective feelings and personal experience. The church is not an amalgam of trendy crusades or mutual interests, but a real community that demands commitment.
The body of Christ is tasked with the development of disciples, approved workers and discerning thinkers who are capable of doing the deeds and explaining the creeds. Disciples are changed from spectators to participants, from consumers to sellers, from outsiders to insiders. Age becomes relative to the relationship that transforms eternally.
1 John highlights the truth, Jesus Christ and His abiding love. The Truth liberates in every season of life, whether Gentile or Jew, female or male, bonded or free. The Truth unites all the followers into a fellowship that shares the same Savior, same Spirit, and same Scripture. The gospel is for all ages in every age.