Thinking About What it Means to be The Church

In the little spare time that I have recently, I’ve been finding myself this week picking up the book UnChristian by David Kinnaman. The book is a couple of years old, but this is the first time that I’ve really sat down to consider the major points in the book as it relates to reaching out to a new generation of people who have been turned off by Christians

For those who have not heard of the book, Kinnaman uses years of research to understand why more and more young adults are turning away from Christianity and wanting nothing to do with the faith. It’s a sobering tale of views and interactions with Christians that have made non-Christians (for lack of a better term) want nothing more than to not be associated with Christianity.

As I proceed through seminary and ordination, this is a question that I will be considering for the next 20 to 30 years. How do we reach this generation? How do we grow the church and seek people in ways that are real and transformative?

Perhaps before we can answer those questions, we have to understand ourselves as the church right now. There may be no better way to say it, but, by and large, we have not been the church.

Instead we have been a small reflection of the church wanting to convince people by our words, but yet our actions don’t follow suit. We have been more concerned about numbers than wanting to meet people where they are and walk with them through discipleship, friendship, and love. We are becoming more judgmental towards those who are outside the walls of the church. We would rather look down than lift up. We’ve allowed political ideology to shape theological discussions.

We have not let the Triune God be at the center of the church and our walk.

And it shows.

Of course these statements are not representative of all Christians, but all Christians are responsible and hold some claim to the perception that the younger generation have about the church. I don’t have all the answers, but I don’t want to be a Christian who seeks to build on the perceptions of the world, but instead live by the truth and transformative love and grace of a loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If I have not, and I am very sure there have been times that I have not, I apologize.

As leaders, we must be concerned about how we are reaching out to the next generation of believers. The same old methods will not work and have not work. Perhaps maybe, just maybe, what will work is what work for Jesus – spending time with them, being open and honest, and showing them love that flows out of faith and relationship with God.

If we are not concerned about how to reach this new generation then we can guarantee that our churches will be ineffective and our ministries will only scrape the surface of reaching out to new people about what it means to follow God.

Perhaps as I read more, I’ll blog more about what I am thinking and processing. It certainly has open my eyes to what lies ahead, while also encourage me in the path that I have felt led in my life.

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