There are several topics that come up over and over again in Christian circles, particularly among church leaders, including:
- Reforming our ecclesiology, the idea that our worship needs an overhaul and…
- The segregation of the church into professionalized, age-specific ministries and the pitfalls that brings…and
- The failure of parents and youth ministry to disciple our kids and…
- Recognizing God’s mission for his church and how many churches have remained too institutional and neglected the biblical mission of the church which all leads to…
- Losing our young adults – the mass exodus of 18-28 year olds from church
These are not separate issues.
All these issues feed into each other in an interconnected ecosystem that we call the church. They cannot be dealt with on an individual basis. These are systemic issues that all work from a common core problem. I believe that core problem is our identity. Have we forgotten who we are? Have some preached Christ divided where the Bible proclaims Christ united? Is the body, then, only a body if it includes who we are comfortable with. Instead of wrapping our identity in Christ, some have exchanged that idea for a seemingly tight-knit, deductive system that is able to defeat all false doctrine, doing so without a dose of humility and love. Our identity get wrapped up in being right, having perfect doctrine and being undefeatable by the denominations. Find that for me in the Bible somewhere…
So who are we and how does that impact these interconnected issues? Once we fully identify with Jesus (which is God’s ultimate goal for our lives, Rom 8:29-30 & 2 Cor 3:18)
- Our worship and worshippers become so Christ-focused that our ecclesiology is no longer an issue (whether semi-archaic or technologically advanced) because they are so in love with the Lord and giving him their best that the bells and whistles become periphery. People who come into the worship will not be wowed by multiple powerpoint screens but by the Spirit that is at work within the congregation. Which would you rather draw them with anyway?
- Segregation in the church becomes a church united, where intergenerational ministry is taking place and not just ministry TO all the generations at once but the generations ministering together, engaging in the mission of God at the same time rather than in isolation from each other (our current system is like just having a hand throw a game-winning touchdown…just shouldn’t work like that).
- Parents are then reconnected with their kids in a spiritual setting and they are equipped to intentionally disciple their children. They see the need and their responsibility to do that because they realize just how much their kids need Jesus and how no one else will do a better job of teaching them than they will.
- When the body comes together like this, with Jesus as our focus, the church’s mission naturally flows out of our identity and our practices become more in line with the ministry of Jesus and less concerned with the perpetuation of an institution.
- Which results in our young people growing up with real faith that will last through their adult years because they know and love Jesus and our attrition numbers begin to decline.
These problems are all interconnected. We cannot just put band aids on symptoms. We have to get underneath it all and start addressing the core issues and I believe it all goes back to claiming the wrong or misplaced identity and putting our trust in the wrong things. I hope this post doesn’t sting too hard…it is not meant to be a rebuke. I also know not all churches suffer from this to the same degree. Also, this is not strictly a “church of Christ” issue but that many churches of all sorts of different denominational affiliations are trying to navigate this. I am afraid, we are taking this piecemeal and fear we won’t be able to solve a systemic issue by only focusing on one or two parts and missing the interconnection. This post is meant to help unpack where some congregations are at in this so we can move forward in healthy ways. The elephant is in the room for some, will anyone be willing to talk about it?