The other day one of my friends posted the following blog:
I’ve been doing alot of thinking lately, not just in the ’I’m turning 30
this year’ mode, more general due to some situations I’ve been involved in
throughout the past few years. I haven’t come up with much so far, just
rethinking who I thought I was. For instance, I used to consider myself a
Christian, but I don’t claim to be that anymore. I do still believe
God exists, but due to my own experiences with the church and with ’fellow
christians’ I have no desire to be lumped into a group with most of them.
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been to with Ministers and District
Superintendents and Bishops who sit there bitching and moaning about, "What
can we do to start bringing more people back into the church?! Oh!
Let’s have another rummage sale!" Here’s a thought, start actually acting
like christians when you’re outside of church (for that matter, start acting
like it when you’re IN church!) And for clarification, this DOES NOT
mean browbeating people with your own judgements on their life or cramming your
beliefs down peoples throats. If you’re really a christian, people
should be able to see it in the way you act towards others and in the way you
live your life. The Methodist Church has this great advertising
campaign, "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors" unfortunately, in the 29
years I’ve been affiliated with the church I have only seen one church that
even comes close to living up to this. I don’t have a point, like I said,
I’m just bitter about some stuff lately and I feel like
ranting. I’ll probably add more to this over the next few days
but for now that’s all I have the energy to write.
If we think this is just someone that doesn’t know what they are talking about or not aware of what is happening in the church, think again! This is a preacher’s kid, (PK) that has lived the life at home and paid the price for the demands in the church in ways that we can’t even imagine. I don’t blame them for feeling this way. This is their experience and it is real. They have lived the life of a pastor from the inside and now are looking at it from the outside.
As I read the comments on her blog by others her age they were all in agreement with her on what the church is like today. They put on some of their own stories as to how the church has no idea how to connect with them and doesn’t appear to care. We can continue to ignore this kind of reaction or we can decide that we are going to start asking what needs to change for us to become a place of trust, grace and hope again. This is what I have been reading about his generation in the last few months. I have been out finding ways to connect outside the church with this generation and what I hear is not encouraging.
In the book UnChristian by Kinnaman, published by the Barna Group, is a detailed study of those between 16 and 29. It confirmed what I have been hearing in these conversations. They feel they cannot trust the church. We preach and teach one thing and then live another way both inside and more importantly outside the church. I love the title of a book by Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus But Not the Church, that talks about this generation and how they view the church.
In my message at the church I preached at this morning I started by saying “Good morning church!” There was a resounding “Good Morning” in both services. I was speaking at another church as part of a pulpit rotation. I wonder if we understand that we are the church to those that are both in and outside the church, especially to those outside the church. When we proclaim ourselves as the church we better be prepared to be the church both inside and out of the building.
As my friend tells us in their blog, and I hear when I talk to so many outside the church, we are not known for being the face of Jesus to the world. Does anything have to change in your church for the world to see the grace and love of Jesus?