What is the future of the church as we know it in the western world?
I have written about this many times (see The future for the church), believing that much needs to change. It is like the tide is coming in, the island the churches are sitting on is shrinking, our feet are wet, yet things are just going on as normal.
But bit by bit, the evidence keeps coming in (just like the tide), that one way or another, things will indeed change.
Exodus or exile?
In his blog, Life.remixed, Matt Anslow observes that in his work as a Young Adults Coordinator with TEAR Australia, he meets many young adults who are committed to following Jesus. Some enjoy their involvement in their local church, some are involved but not enthusiastic, but some have dropped out completely.
Matt asks the question:
“Is this widespread young adult church defection an exodus, or an exile? That is to say, is it a form of God’s liberation, or the result of rebellion?”
Why would a christian drop out?
I was particularly taken by one response from a reader:
“I’m passionate about Jesus and the gospel, but the experience of my local church is deeply disconnected from the reality of both the world we live in and the radical calling demanded of disciples. Like many churches it is finance focused, deeply illiberal (in the sense that it remains unaware of the post-christian world it now operates in, but feels a little threatened and isn’t sure why), anti-intellectual, highly emotional and tribal, focused on what God can do for ‘me’ and not what our responsibility is as Christians, and, most disturbingly for a ‘denomination’ built on social justice and service to the poor, not inclusive due to a focus on particularly bourgeois values (dressing ‘well’, etc). So while I love the community of people in my church, the experience of church as an institution for me is boring, insipid and completely counter to the message of the gospel.”
And a word from Bob Dylan
When I read that, I feel reinforced that church leaders have two choices:
- “We cannot afford to lose people with that commitment.”
- “Don’t think twice, it’s alright.”