Missy and I went to the LeadNow conference for leaders of 20 and 30 somethings and I have to say it was pretty phenomenal. Speakers included Dan Kimball, Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz), Erwin McManus, Todd Phillips and several others. I want to deal with what was presented in several posts but first I want to mention the things that stood out to me and the impact it is going to have on our ministry.
There is a paradigm shift that has already happened in many churches in America. This will already be pretty basic to many who read this blog but new to many others so I want to toss it out there. There is a movement in America away from institutionalized religion (hang with me here). The theory goes something like this – Jesus never meant for Christianity to be an institution full of rituals. He meant for Christianity to be about a relationship and a mission. It is not a place we go to but who we are. Some of that is a little unsettling for those of us who grew up in conservative churches who really love and value the heritage we have and the way we grew up. There is some good in that as we become more mission minded and some not so good in that as the church often gets a black eye.
Many young people today are unchurched and they are looking for a place that is making a difference in the community and in the lives of people. They don’t know all the traditions or the songs. All they know is when they read about Jesus in the Bible they see more than living out traditions. They see him active and involved in a mission that connects with God and with the lives of other people. They want to be a part of that. They want to make a difference. Churches that are not actively engaged in making a difference in their community may grow from transfer growth but will have an increasing difficulty in connecting with the generation now 30 and younger.
Like any movement it can and has been taken to dangerous extremes but that does not mean there is little or nothing we can learn from it. The challenge are going to be reaching out to young people in a way that is meaningful to them and still in line with our core beliefs derived from scripture. The good news is these young people are also moved by scripture and by the ministry of Jesus as they look for answers the world has not been able to provide.
In a series of posts we are going to examine some of the ins and outs of this perspective and how it can impact the church in a healthy way to move forward to a bright future as the people of God. This may sound a little edgy to some of you (some of it even sounds a little edgy to me!). But don’t worry. Just hang in there.